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The Hot Rock by Donald E. Westlake

The Hot Rock (1970)

by Donald E. Westlake

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Dortmunder (1)

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Showing 1-5 of 23 (next | show all)
The Hot Rock is the first in a series about John Archibald Dortmunder written back in 1970, this is something that I had to keep reminding myself while reading, as it is also set in the time frame it is written in. I kept having to remind myself that what was happening could be possible since they wouldn't have many of the technologies we have now. Imagine only needing a dime to make a phone call at an actually phonebooth. Once I put my mind in the prospective of the timeline I enjoyed it much more. (I mean come on it was written before I was even conceived of, three years before in fact). Still some of the things seemed a bit far-fetched. I find it hard to believe someone could fly a helicopter from only reading about it without being a genius but instead because he fully believes he can "drive" anything. Still it is fiction, a crime fiction with the perfect touch of comedy. I wish I could find the movie to see how well Robert Redford portrayed John Archibald Dortmunder.

When we first meet John Archibald Dortmunder or just Dortmunder he is sitting in the office of Warden Outes keeping up the appearance of a rehabilitated parole. All he really wants though is to get out to collect his three hundred dollars for selling his jail cell and leave the jail. Unfortunately the warden insists on walking him to the gates of freedom leaving him unable to collect.

Outside waiting for him is friend Andrew Philip Kelp, once again he goes by his last name Kelp. Kelp has come from New York to pick up his friend and tell him about a job he's lined up. The job involves stealing an emerald worth half a million dollars (in 1970), but small enough to fit inside a cuff link case. Kelp is pretty good a stealing cars and tends to go for doctors cars because they have all the bells and whistles. I'm not completely clear on his other talents besides maybe hustling.

Major Patrick Iko is the UN Ambassador of his small country in Africa. His country had been a civil war that had ended when the one country became two smaller countries. The problem is the emerald had ended up in the other country though it had been a religious icon to Iko's people. They had tried to get it back but to no avail. So Iko comes up with the idea to have it stolen while it is being displayed with other artifacts from Africa. He has offered to pay thirty thousand per man to Dortmunder to steal it, Dortmunder negotiates week to week living expenses of one hundred and fifty per man plus any supplies needed to pull off the caper on top of the thirty gee.

Dortmunder decides that they need three more men to get the job done a driver, a lockman and a utility outfielder better known as a jack of all trades. They grab Roger Chefwick a model railroad enthusiast whose good with locks. Stan Murch who claims there isn't anything he can't drive. He's so obsessed with cars he buy's records of the recordings of car sounds like most people buy a regular album. Lastly there is the utility man Alan George Greenwood who also happens to be a ladies man. All of the men go by their last name throughout the book.

Everything seems to go well and they get the emerald but that's when everything goes sideways. The rest of the book they try and fail several times to pull off stealing the emerald. The story is full of hi-jinks and barely believable stuns to pull of these jobs. So if you can overlook the non practical acts of these five men and just enjoy the ride of the story give this book a shot. Your sure to laugh and shake your head more than once at what they go through for one little rock. ( )
  MicheleTunnell | Mar 22, 2019 |
I was hoping to start another Westlake series as I come to the end of the Parkers, but even though this started life as a Parker, it was a little disappointing. Smart-alecky. Nice to see Grofield make an appearance. I may search out the next couple just to see if he found a surer voice for Dortmunder, but for now I'm underwhelmed. ( )
  asxz | Mar 13, 2019 |
Dortmunder #1 - a true caper. Outstanding! ( )
  ParadisePorch | Sep 18, 2018 |
Wholly enjoyable. Can't believe this isn't a movie, with J. K. Simmons as Dortmunder, Joe Pesci as Murch, and Danny DeVito as Kelp. Great caper book to listen to on walks or read on an airplane. Or at the kitchen table, for that matter. Why did I try to qualify the enjoyment I got from this? It's not up to Parker levels, but neither is anything else. (BTW, I wrote this before I knew that there was already a film version from 1972 with Robert Redford as Dortmunder, which, as a piece of casting, seems like having Tom Arnold play Don Corleone.) ( )
  Stubb | Aug 28, 2018 |
Hot Rock, Donald Westlake. Tracking down this book was difficult. In the end I had to be content with an old paperback from ebay. But what a good story and what a laugh. No wonder this was made into a successful film with Robert Redford starring.

I think my paperback would win the contest for the worst ever front cover “artwork”. ( )
  Novak | Feb 22, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 23 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (4 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Westlake, Donald E.primary authorall editionsconfirmed
Jakesevic, NenadCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kramer, MichaelNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lamut, SonjaCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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This criminal is the type of the strong man in unfavorable surroundings; the strong man made sick.

—F. W. Nietzsche
This is for Milt Amgott,
who has helped to keep me from a life of crime
by making it superfluous
First words
Dortmunder blew his nose.
He'd preferred to drive up here today rather than take the train, so he'd gone shopping for a car last night, and he'd found this one on East 67th Street. It had MD plates and he always automatically checked those, because doctors tend to leave the keys in the car, and once again the medical profession had not disappointed him.

It didn't have MD plates now, of course. The state hadn't spent four years teaching him how to make license plates for nothing.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0446677035, Paperback)

The Hot Rock introduces John Archibald Dortmunder, the thief whose capers never quite come off, as he and his convict friends plot to steal the fabulous Balaboma Emerald.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:22:39 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

At the request of the U.N. ambassador from the African nation of Talabwo, Dortmunder and an ill-assorted group of hoodlums join forces to steal the fabulous Balabomo emerald, a priceless jewel of great cultural and historical significance.

» see all 4 descriptions

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