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Get Real

(Dortmunder #15)

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  1,151 ratings  ·  196 reviews
In Donald E. Westlake's Get Real, the bad get better, the good slide a bit, and Lord help anyone caught between a thief and the current object of his attention: laughs "land on every page" (New York Times).

Getting caught red-handed is inevitable when a TV producer convinces a thief named John Dortmunder -- and his merry gang -- to do a reality show that captures thei
Paperback, 304 pages
Published June 1st 2010 by Grand Central Publishing (first published 2009)
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Average rating 3.86  · 
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I'm assuming that this is the last new Dortmunder book since it was published after Westlake's death, and it's a very funny reminder of what's great about Westlake's comic writing. And it makes me more determined than ever to avoid reality television by any means necessary.

Professional thief Dortmunder and his crew get an unlikely offer to star in a reality series where the planning and execution of a robbery will be televised. Dortmunder and his friends aren't wild about filming their illegal a
Lance Charnes
Jun 13, 2018 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Dortmunder completists
Recommended to Lance by: Powell's Books (it was the only one they had)
John Dortmunder is Donald Westlake's working-stiff thief, a way-downmarket Danny Ocean, probably within hailing distance of Lawrence Block's Bernie Rhodenbarr on the social ladder. As I understand the concept, each of the fifteen books in the series features Dortmunder and his crew of mixed nuts happening on something valuable that begs to be stolen. They piece together a Rube Goldberg plan to steal that something, then the plan proceeds to come unglued from Step 1, to much hilarity.

Get Real is
Mar 23, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Even towards the end of his life, Westlake could write beautifully contemporary and very funny fiction.

Taking aim at such crap faux reality shows such as ‘The Simple Life’ or ‘The Hills’ (I doubt he’d have seen such nonsense at ‘The Only Way Is Essex’, which us British types have to put up with), he ruthlessly skewers both the conventions and the people behind such shows. (On this website, we probably think of him as splitting Jekyll and Hyde style between Donald Westlake and Richard Stark, but
Sep 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another good one by Westlake. This the audio book was really good and so was the reader.
Aug 09, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Donald Westlake's death this year was one of the saddest bits of literary news to darken my viewscreen. No more Dortmunder novels? Oh man, I'm already going into withdrawals! I plan to savor every word of this last brilliantly-written highly-amusing source of joy.

If you've never read any of Westlake's ingenious novels about Dortmunder the burglar, you are in for such a treat. The only character I can think of who compares would be Fletch.

R.I.P. Donald, and thank you.
Feb 26, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The gang was called upon to do a reality show. Dortmunder was not for it, but finally agreed to use the idea to rob the owners of the production. Of course things don't work out quite as planned, as usual, fun, short read, but not as funny as some of his in this series. ...more
Jan 16, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: x2019-20-season
Dortmunder and his pals just don't belong in a world of cell phones and reality TV. ...more
Jeff P
Mar 28, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Dortmunder and the gang get involved with a reality TV show, making a show about a heist. This was a fun read.
Mar 24, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone

And now, dear friends, it is time to say goodbye to John Dortmunder and his fine feathered friends (no, wait, I’m channeling Burgess Meredith!)

But it is true that Get Real is the last novel in this decades-long adventure, ending only with the Grim Reaper prying Mr. Westlake’s cold, stiff fingers from the keyboard. Although it is possible, I don’t see another author continuing this series at the behest of the publisher (and author’s estate). (There is a collection of short stories that I have yet
Jennifer (JC-S)
Dec 21, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
‘The rest of your future starts right here.’

"Dortmunder did not like to stand around on street corners. A slope-shouldered, glum-looking individual in clothing that hadn't been designed by anybody, he knew what he looked like when he stood for a while in one place on a street corner, and what he looked like was a person loitering with intent."

John Dortmunder, New York thief, finally has something to smile about. A television producer, Doug Fairkeep, has convinced him and his gang of thieves to s
Sep 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: noirboiled
The career of John Dortmunder came to an unexpected end with the sudden death of Donald E. Westlake on December 31, 2008. The final novel in the series, Get Real, was published the following year, and it hits a fitting final note. Get Real’s premise, which is both silly and inspired (always a delicate balance in Westlake’s world), finds Dortmunder and crew as stars of a fledgling reality TV show. The novel’s ending (no real spoilers here) has Dortmunder and Andy Kelp walking off into a New York ...more
Kathy Szydlo
The last of the Dortmunder gang books, which I have enjoyed over the years. This one has the gang hired to be on a reality TV show. Of course, they plan to steal much more than the producers are aware of. Westlake stuck with a core group on this heist, so I missed reading about the odd assortment of misfits and characters usually involved. I thought May's role, as Dortmunder's longtime faithful companion, was particularly underutilized. I wouldn't say this was one of the best about the gang, but ...more
Craig Pittman
Apr 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Hard to believe that the 15th book in this series could be as funny as the first couple of them, but it is. The addition of the reality TV angle allowed Donald E. Westlake to skewer one of the most influential of modern communications media, and it just gets more and more hilarious as the book goes on. It's a shame Westlake died before he wrote another one -- but unlike Westlake's Parker series (written under the pen name Richard Stark), the Dortmunder series had the perfect finale with this boo ...more
C.I. DeMann
Sep 27, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Dortmunder books are always enjoyable. This one took us behind-the-scenes at a reality TV show, which was cool.
John Fiala
Jun 11, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, humor
"Get Real" is the fifteenth and last of the Dortmunder novels, and was published after Westlake's death a few years ago. It, like the other Dortmunder novels, involves the work of a small gang of working class criminals who find something worth stealing, work out a foolproof plan to steal, and then run into ridiculous complications along the way. If you're a fan of the books then you're more then familiar with the characters: Dour John Dortmunder, who belongs in a 50's caper movie and distrusts ...more
Jul 14, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The great Donald Westlake passed away last year, so fans necessarily approach this final caper of John Dortmunder & crew with some sorrow and perhaps raised/changed expectations. I know I wanted GET REAL to be a particularly hilarious & memorable entry in the series, with an all-out zany plot and visits with as many recurring characters as possible, just because it's the last and that's all we get. What it is, is consistent and worthy, but not that sort of all-out amazing that the unfortunate de ...more
Jul 28, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Like many of the other readers of this book, I couldnt stop thinking the whole time about how this would be the final adventure of Dortmunder and his gang of thieves, as author Donald Westlake passed away last spring. I came a bit late to the Westlake game, only discovering him five or six years back, but there are very few authors as consistently entertaining as he is (at least for those of us who like goofy caper stories).

That said, I was probably willing to overlook some of the flaws of the n
Sometimes it seems as though every legitimate profession under the sun has been used in a a reality show. But when producer Doug meets Murch's mother driving a cab, he decides that criminals have been sadly neglected.
Dortmunder and his gang are a little skeptical, but the money sounds good and Doug promises them that the legal problems will get solved. But Doug is concealing soething from Dortmunder's gang, and Dortunder and the gang, heaven knows, are concealing a lot from Doug and his bosses,
Dec 29, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: humor, crime
#15 in the John Dortmunder series. Dortmunder is a career criminal conceived by the late grandmaster Donald E. Westlake. Dortmunder and his hapless band of crooks have ingenious plans for capers that somehow seem to go hilariously awry. This 2009 series entry was the final caper as Westlake passed away in December 2008.

John Dortmunder and his band of thieves are approached by the producer of reality shows. His concept is to follow and film the gang as they plan and execute a heist. The gang's co
Mar 09, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Malia by: Merciful
Crime does pay, I'm glad Dortmunder got what he wanted, I laughed all through this book...However Dortmunder was pretty quiet until the end.
The other characters were very entertaining.
From Lueen trying to be a battle axe, The regulars at oj's,bar
discussions are always funny and hilarious.
This book ended on a good note.
Donald E.Westlake passed away, and
he did an excellent job writing through the years, I will miss him.
But I plan on going back to read the other comedic books he wrote.
But alas Dor
Susan Katz
This being the last Dortmunder book forever, I read it as slowly as possible, savoring every bite. This one centers on reality tv, a great topic for Westlake's satirical wit, and features the most faithful members of the Dortmunder gang, all performing up to standard. It was a sad moment when I reached the end of the book and watched Dortmunder "[keep:] walking, on around the corner." My only consolation is that I'll wait for awhile, maybe a decade, and then read them all again from first to las ...more
Aug 20, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who likes humorous crooks; heist stories; New York.
Recommended to Richard by: I read all Mr. Westlake's work.
when you laugh out loud in public reading a book, strangers will come up to you and ask what you are reading. In the case of Donald E. Westlake it could be any of his Dortmunder stories. This one is especially funny.

The boys are all back and become reality TV stars and learn a lot about how those reality shows are made while they help themselves to almost anything that is not nailed down.

Set in New York City, the scenes are very familiar. The dialogue, characters and behavior are very believable
Jul 24, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's hard to believe this will be Westlake's and Dortmunder's last new book. (Review: as good as ever.) He wrote the first books I took out of the adult section at the local library, some 35 years ago, and has been a constant companion ever since. I miss you, Donald (Richard/Timothy/Samuel/...)!

I gather one early novel, called Memory, will be published by Hard Case Crime next year. One final book to look forward to ...
The last book about the very funny Dortmunder gang in New York, since Donald Westlake died last year. This one ranks in the top three for me..I laughed so much. This time the gang is approached by a reality TV producer that would like to film them as they plan, then carry out one of their "seems easy" capers. As John Dortmunder says, "the part I don't get is the part where we don't go to jail." Lots of twists and turns as the gang try to outmaneuver the reality show people. ...more
Aug 14, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nyc, thief, caper, reality-tv
You would think that reality tv and Dortmunder's gang would not mix. After all, recording one of the gang's trademark capers might leave one or two clues behind. However, Dortmunder is not one to say no to a challenge. While not quite the tour de farce that some of his earlier novels were (the caper is fairly pedestrian and the tv producers aren't very interesting), Westlake does deliver some ROTF moments. As always, the crooks are the sanest people in the room. ...more
Nov 18, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Westlake passed away last year, and it makes me feel blue as John Dortmunder after a hoist gone bad. Westlake started with the standard heist caper formula and transformed it into a slice of common humanity. His characters are warm but pragmatic. The drama comes from their desire to make a living doing the only thing they know how to do well. Westlake was a master to the end. If you've not met Dortmunder, you really should soon. ...more
Apr 15, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those wishing to bid farewell to Dortmunder
Sadly, I guess this is really the final Dortmunder novel; it is, by Westlake's exalted standards, rather Lenten fare. The plot lacks the typical twists and turns, and the satire devolves to a rather one note riff on reality television.
Uncharacteristically, the Gang succeeds, which is only fitting for a valedictory novel.
Jul 07, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What can I say. It's Westlake and it's Dortmunder. The gang is all here and for once, everything goes pretty much to plan. The worst thing about the book is it's the last. But when you reach the end, there is a moment that makes you believe Westlake knew this was his final Dortmunder book and it's bittersweet. ...more
Lynn Kearney
3.5 Great premise! A reality show featuring Dortmunder and the OJ bar irregulars. A little disappointing in its development. Still, it's the last Westlake, so I savoured it. (Actually, V.C. Andrews and Ian Fleming still seem to be churning out the books decades after they've died so maybe there'll be more to come.) ...more
Aug 09, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The last Dortmunder novel is fun reading, though not among the best (see Why Me). In this caper, the gang gets involved with some TV producers who want to do a reality tv show about them planning and carrying off a heist. The tension between the tv types and thieves is fun, as is the way the gang gets seduced by TV. A few laughs, and they will be sorely missed, but as I say not among the best.
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Donald E. Westlake (1933-2008) was one of the most prolific and talented authors of American crime fiction. He began his career in the late 1950's, churning out novels for pulp houses—often writing as many as four novels a year under various pseudonyms such as Richard Stark—but soon began publishing under his own name. His most well-known characters were John Dortmunder, an unlucky thief, and a ru ...more

Other books in the series

Dortmunder (1 - 10 of 15 books)
  • The Hot Rock (Dortmunder, #1)
  • Bank Shot (Dortmunder, #2)
  • Jimmy The Kid (Dortmunder, #3)
  • Nobody's Perfect (Dortmunder, #4)
  • Why Me? (Dortmunder, #5)
  • Good Behavior (Dortmunder, #6)
  • Drowned Hopes (Dortmunder, #7)
  • Don't Ask (Dortmunder, #8)
  • What's The Worst That Could Happen? (Dortmunder, #9)
  • Bad News (Dortmunder, #10)

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