Thursday, July 10, 2014

Book Review: Donald E. Westlake, The Road to Ruin (2004)

11 Dortmunders down, 3 to go. By now I know that I enjoy the Dortmunder formula, and I thoroughly enjoyed The Road to Ruin, but this may have been the weakest entry in the series thus far. The novel is free from the out-and-out silliness that I sometimes complain about (though to some readers, the entire Dortmunder series may seem an exercise in silliness), but it also lacks the gravitas that elevates some of the books in the series. As well, for the first time while reading a Dortmunder novel, I was acutely aware of the padding. The supporting cast (exclusive of Dortmunder's usual crew) seemed to arrive more quickly than usual, all with backstories and occasions for us to see the narrative through their eyes, and all seeming to lengthen the narrative more than enrich it. The heist this time involves Dortmunder & Co. planning to steal a collection of rare automobiles, but—spoiler alert—things go so wrong that we never get to see them even try to drive away with the cars. In sum, if you enjoyed the first 10 Dortmunders, you will enjoy this one, but if you are looking for a random Dortmunder to read, pick a different one. Grade: C+

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