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Drowned Hopes

(Dortmunder #7)

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  1,436 ratings  ·  110 reviews
(7th in Dormunder Series )

John Dortmunder strikes it unlucky again when he gets a visit from an old cellmate, Tom Jimson. During Jimson's long stretch in the pen, the State of New York decided to turn a certain valley near Albany into a reservoir and it just so happens that the loot from Tom's last bank job was buried in that valley. Now the cash is under fifty feet of wat

Paperback, 547 pages
Published April 16th 2010 (first published 1990)
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Average rating 4.14  · 
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 ·  1,436 ratings  ·  110 reviews

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Charles  van Buren
Sep 02, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If it weren't for bad luck....

Crime doesn't pay but it sure is dangerous. Dortmunder and associates attempt to recover the loot from an old armored car heist for the only surviving robber, Tom, a dangerous killer whose partners have a habit of dying.

The problem is that a reservoir has been built on top of the hiding place. Dortmunder, the planner comes up with improbable ways to get at the money but can't catch a break. The reservoir itself seems to be out to kill him not to mention Tom who will
Apr 18, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For a series of criminal capers, Westlake’s Dortmunder novels unspool at their own comfortable pace. Readers just sit back and let the whole thing unravel in front of them. The same amusing characters – Andy Kelp, Stan Murch, et al – appear again and again, and it’s like being with friends (shady, criminal and sometimes incompetent friends, but friends nevertheless). That’s not to say that these books lack dramatic tension or suspense, as Westlake will happily take his readers to a point of real ...more
Apparently there is a whole series of "Dortmunder" books and this isn't the first. It's a mildly amusing crime caper novel, in which Dortmunder is the brains (allegedly) for the underwater salvage of a recently released psycho's spoils from an armed robbery. It would have been a lot better, though, if not for the computer geek and his computer. The book was published in 1990 and the PC was still pretty new-fangled (the first time I used one was only the year before). The computer geek as comedic ...more
Mar 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this book many years ago at the recommendation of a friend. It was my first Dortmunder novel- and the funniest one yet. I just remember that the characters were all well-drawn, each with their own quirks. It was my introduction to 'Murch's mom', an ace driver, as well as the rest of the unlucky gang. I highly recommend it! ...more
Jun 13, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: x2018-19-season
Substantially longer than previous entries, and less enjoyable for it. The central conceit is good, and the new characters well drawn, but the entire experience is fatiguing in a way previous volumes weren't. ...more
Mar 07, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
2017 was certainly the year of Westlake for me. Now 2018 may be the same. I finished this and I'm looking for the next inn the series. ...more
Apr 05, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those who take delight in things going awry
For some reason, it is becoming incredibly hard to find Dortmunder novels in this City. To satisfy my Dortmunder jones, I was forced to borrow this volume, which I had read many years ago, from work. No matter: with Westlake's intricate plotting, and the gang's brilliant malaproprisms and general maladroitness, it was as fresh to me as if I had never read it before. I had even forgotten that herein it is revealed that Murch's Mom, um, rejoices (?) in the name of Gladys.
While reading this book, I
Sheila Roberts
Jun 28, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is probably my all-time favorite Donald E. Westlake book. So cleverly done, such great humor. How sad that he's no longer with us! ...more
Apr 03, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime, comedy
Dortmunder's glum fatalism is more justified than ever in this installment, as his conscience gets him in over his head (literally). The poor guy just can't catch a break.

Prison overcrowding means that an old cellmate of Dortmunder's, Tom Jimson, is back in the world, and while Tom might be ready for retirement, he's still a cold-eyed, cold-hearted son-of-a-bitch who doesn't see any reason for the deaths of hundreds of people to get in the way of him retrieving the seven hundred thousand dollars
Martha Grace
Jun 01, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was my introduction to Donald Westlake and there are things I really like. He is funny and plays with language. John Archibald Dortmunder is an anti-hero, a small time criminal who literally struggles to keep his head above water in this tale. His old cellmate, Tom Jimson, shows up unannounced at Dortmunder's home with a proposal for a caper that John just can't stomach. Many years ago, Tom heisted $700,000 that he stashed behind the library in a small town in upstate New York. He did some ...more
Jun 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, starklake
Truly great Dortmunder caper where he is invited to help an old cellmate who happens to be a terrifying sociopath recover stolen money from the bottom of a reservoir. It's not really Dortmunder's thing, but seeing as if he doesn't the old cell-mate intends to resort to dynamite and flood a valley full of unsuspecting citizens, he feels obliged to make the effort. There follows a series of attempts to get down to the money and to get the money up. None of them go smoothly. Complications accrue an ...more
Mar 16, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: rented
This may be my favorite of the Dortmunder novels (that I've read). Which is funny because while they all share the pessimistic worldview of Dortmunder himself, this was the first one where Westlake's side narratives painted a truly dark and misanthropic, if humorously done, picture of the world. Maybe because the antagonist of this book is so much darker then the ones in the other D. novels I've read? So, anyway, that tonal switch interested me.

I also favor this book because it had a three para
Sep 26, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: noirboiled
In which Dortmunder must figure out how to retrieve money buried at the bottom of a lake. My pet peeve about the Dortmunder series has been that the lighter tone of these books (compared to, say, oh, I don't know, the Parker novels?) tempts Westlake sometimes to take the easy, sophomoric route (e.g., fart jokes). This time out, plot and execution are strong (the first major underwater scene, in particular, is brilliantly claustrophobic), and the proceedings stay mature . . . but Westlake cannot ...more
Donna Davis
A guy gets out of prison, and he goes to get the loot where he buried it. Unfortunately, he's been gone quite awhile. A dam has been built and the water for a whole town is on top of it now. In order to get to it, he just may have to drown the whole town.

The protagonist is the guy he goes to see about it. Our protagonist, of course, is not a big-time hoodlum with a heart of flint. Westlake doesn't write that way. No, our guy is callous, certainly; selfish, no doubt. But he does not have anywhere
Neill Goltz
Jul 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, comedy, detective
This was my first Dortmunder by Westlake. Recommended to me by good reader friend Bruce Binger. It was years ago - circa 1991 to 1995 - but it is extremely funny as I think back on it today. Dortmunder and his inept team of ne'r-do-wells attempt to recover a stash of previously ill-gotten loot now under the waters of an abandoned town immersed by the state approving a new dam and reservoir.

Highly recommend!
Oct 03, 2013 rated it it was ok
Worst in the series so far. The book is twice the length of some of the previous ones, and for no apparent reason — some of the shortest have had much more elaborate plots. This one merely plods along, with very little cleverness or humour in the main plot (rather than in the asides), and the dialogues between Wally and his computer are simply painful.
Phoebe Matthews
Oct 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
All the books in the Dortmunder series are wonderful, but this is probably the funniest. With his stuff, I read it, get to the last line and so know the story, and then I go right back to page l and read through again to enjoy all the subtle bits.
Rog Harrison
Apr 13, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is only the second book I have read featuring Dortmunder and it certainly made me want to read more. At 550 pages it's a long story with more than a few twists and turns but with a satisfying ending. It's over the top but makes you smile even though there is some violence and people do die. ...more
Larry Webber
Jan 11, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the first Dortmunder I ever read, and it has grown on me with a second reading. One of my favorite Westlake novels.
Carol Silver
Mar 08, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you've read enough of the Dortmunder novels and have a feel for the characters, it makes this book extra funny. It is one of my most laughed out loud during reading books ever! ...more
Apr 23, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery-crime
Now this is good Dortmunder! It's been years since I read this one, but I remember it as delightfully funny. It has one of the best comic crime caper set-ups that I've read. ...more
May 23, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My first Dortmunder, and I really enjoyed it. I'd rank Parker ahead on gritty crime and deadliness, but this was more fun. ...more
Jun 11, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, humor
The cover blurb on my copy of Donald E. Westlake’s Drowned Hopes says that this is the best Dortmunder novel to date. Of course, Drowned Hopes was approximately in the middle of the late Donald Westlake’s chronology for his master burglar/criminal planner, John Dortmunder, and I don’t think I’ve read the whole series. But, I don’t think I disagree. I particularly liked Drowned Hopes because the motivation for pulling off the job was more than making a big score moneywise.

To summarize as best I
James Reyome
Jan 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's always very difficult to rate/rank books in the same series. I'm thinking of the Cussler Dirk Pitt boks, which get progressively worse as they go along, or the Preston & Child Pendergast series, which happily, hasn't yet, tough it has come close to losing my interest. The most consistently wonderful series of books I have yet to read are F. Paul Wilson's Repairman Jack tales, which have remained both engrossing and original throughout.

Still. Having now completed book number seven in the Dor
Sep 07, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
There is a lot to like here. Westlake is a master of writing what I call "caper stories." The plot here is ingenious, and meticulously worked through. There is a fair amount of character development, and abundant humor which often led me to laugh out loud. And the whole gang is here -- Dortmunder, of course, May, Murch and Murch's mom, Andy Kelp, and Tiny. A number of new characters are also well crafted: Wally Knurr, Myrtle Street and her mother, Edna, and Doug Berry.
In addition, Westlake must
Nov 24, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
My fifth Dortmunder book! He and the gang are after a coffin full of money - in a reservoir, under fifty feet of water! And, believe it or not, they didn't get it on their first attempt! Or second. Or...

LOVED the subplot of Bob, the young fella who works at the damn! The poor guy! Lol!
I also loved (as I have in other Dortmunder books) Andy Kelp’s penchant for stealing cars with MD plates! And finally I loved that in this book, Dortmunder believes that the reservoir is trying to kill him! Believe
Apr 26, 2021 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Several authors have written books with criminal protagonists. Of those I have read, Donald Westlake’s Dortmunder series has been the most consistently entertaining. They almost always rate four to five stars from me. This one is a little weaker in some ways but there are things I like about it. I like that May plays a bigger part and the humor is great as always. There is good tension and suspense in the gang’s attempts to achieve the goal. There are enough twists and turns to keep it interesti ...more
Kat Blockade
This is my all time favourite book in the Dortmunder series. It has all the regulars, plus a series of side plots which follow other characters and their (sometimes incredibly tenuous) links to the current caper and those involved. Laugh out loud funny! I really enjoyed all the different character point of view chapters in which all the main characters and their capers are described by the supporting cast- you get a sense of how truly ridiculous Dortmunder's world is. ...more
3.5 stars
A longer than usual and frustrating Dortmunder adventure, this time outside of NYC. The first 6 in the series were all 4+ star reads, but this didn't match the quality of the previous ones. All the familiar characters are there plus a few new bizarre new ones. There's humor, but no real LOL moments.
Sally Peters
Nov 26, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Funny Caper Mystery

The usual suspects are back once again proving crime really doesn't pay. Dortmund comes up with the plans, Andy Kelp gets the transportation, Stan Murch drives it and Murch's mom and May provide support. But when the pay off is fifty feet under water and a ruthless killer is involved, the result is bound to be chaos and mayhem and rib splitting laughs.
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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 Park ...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)
  • Don't Ask (Dortmunder, #8)
  • What's The Worst That Could Happen? (Dortmunder, #9)
  • Bad News (Dortmunder, #10)
  • The Road To Ruin (Dortmunder, #11)

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