Donald Edwin Westlake (1933 – 2008)

Welcome and thanks for visiting the official website of crime novelist and MWA Grand Master Donald E. Westlake, creator of John Dortmunder, the most clever and least lucky thief in crime fiction, and, writing as Richard Stark, the hard-boiled heist master Parker. Variously know as Tucker Coe, Curt Clark, Samuel Holt, Timothy J. Culver, J. Morgan Cunningham, Judson Jack Carmichael (what’s with all the “J” names?), among others, Donald Westlake penned more than one hundred books, mostly in crime fiction but also in genres from biography to history, science fiction and children’s stories.

The News page is where interesting updates and news items related to Don’s work appears.

The Parker, Dortmunder, Tributes and Interviews pages will grow as more fun stuff is added.

More stories are being added to the Shorts page over time.

The Bibliography and individual book pages are static but will continue to be a work in progress as more material is discovered, uncovered and digitized for the web

Also, be sure to check out Don’s very short Autobiography and the Multimedia page for audio and video related to Don’s work.

I have also decided to open the comments sections on the book pages. Some of Don’s work was considered groundbreaking, especially for its time, and what better place to have the discussion than right here? I have no idea if anyone will care to comment on specific titles or if this is just an invitation to web trolls but I thought I would start with an open platform and adjust if necessary.

In costume for a community theater production. That’s me on the left.

Oh, and here’s all the “about me” you could possibly need: I’m Don’s youngest son. To understate the matter, my background is somewhat different — music, film, tv, web — but my inspiration has always been the same. In more than twenty years of working in the creative fields, I still have never met another human being with the level of discipline and sheer volume of creative output as my father. Intimidating, to be sure. He was the consummate storyteller and I owe every ounce of my comparatively laughable imagination and work ethic to his example. This is one small way in which I’m trying to return the favor.

I hope you enjoy your visit. Come back again and comment liberally.

Thanks again,

Paul Westlake
Caretaker

PS – Bookmark the next page if you don’t want to see this message again.

Continue

85 thoughts on “Welcome

  1. Alan Lipsky says:

    I want to thank you for maintaining this great website. As a fan of your Dad’s writing for more than 40 years, I am so pleased that I can continue to find more of his work than I knew existed! (Under his many pen-names!) It is a real pleasure for me to keep discovering heretofore unknown Westlakes!
    Sincerely,
    Alan Lipsky

    • pewestlake says:

      Thanks, Alan. It’s very gratifying to me that I can continue to provide this venue for Don’s fans. This is almost as much a process of discovery for me as it is a labor of love. It’s also been interesting to come into contact with people who probably know more about Don’s work than Don did! Thanks for the comment and hope you continue to enjoy spending time here.

      Best,
      Pw

      • Tom Jamieson says:

        Hello Paul,
        Thanks so much for your work on this site. Great work!

        I have read several of your dad’s books and I admire them greatly. His work is in a class by itself.

        I am a self-stated Parker fanatic. I’m also a graphic designer. I’ve seen the small original book covers to all the Parker books in the “Parker” section of the website. I’m in the planning stage of creating a comprehensive Parker poster that will illustrate how all the parker books work together, and I’m writing to ask if you could send me large jpegs of each Parker book cover. The original cover of each Parker book will be on the poster, but I need larger images than the ones you have on your site. The poster will be similar to the graphic recently done by the University of Chicago Press but will be more detailed and inclusive. If you can send jpeg images of each cover, I will – obviously – observe all copyright rules. I’ll also send you a digital image of the poster when it’s completed.
        Thanks,
        Tom Jamieson

  2. Anonymous says:

    Funny, I just discovered your books and I’m tearing thru them and accidentally read Bad News and Busy Body back to back. Are they the only two that have that grave-robbibg element in common?

    • pewestlake says:

      I must confess that I haven’t read every book my father wrote — but I’m working on it! Alas, Don won’t be able to answer your question directly… not in this realm, anyway.

      As far as I know, no other books had grave-opening so central to the story but I think I recall other graves being disturbed somewhere. Will let you know if I remember. Perhaps one of the self-made Westlake experts will stumble upon your question.

      Thanks for the visit and comment.

      Pw

  3. Dave says:

    Did I miss my favorite Westlake novel from this site’s bibliography page, or did it perhaps get overlooked? It’s *Kahawa* (about the theft of a traiload of coffee in Uganda) and I believe it was published in approximately 1988.

    • pewestlake says:

      Yes, you missed it. ;-)

      It’s in the bibliography between “Castle in the Air” and “Why Me?” and the most likely reason you missed it is because it was published earlier than you thought — 1981.

      The book page is here: http://www.donaldwestlake.com/bibliography/kahawa/

      And, btw, it’s one of my favorites, too! It should really become a movie at some point. Maybe if the Parker series is successful we can find a director willing to do some Westlake a la Spielberg. ;-)

      Thanks for the visit!

      Pw

      • Kathryn says:

        Just saw the 2013 film, “Parker” which gave an “In Memory of” to your Father. I googled his name and found this site. Jason Stratham played Parker, Jennifer Lopez also co-starred. The film was excellent, and just wanted to let you know they must’ve gotten the screenplay from your dad’s writing to give tribute to him in this way. If so, he has found a director that not only was willing to make a movie of the Parker character, but the best actor to capture him in such an honorable way. Glad to meet you via your webpage. Blessings to you and your family in 2014. Happy New Year!

    • pewestlake says:

      PS – Part of my ongoing project to rebuild the Westlake bibliography from scratch is to create a sortable database that would have enabled you to find the book much faster. Alas, the new biblio is not yet anywhere near complete or ready for prime time but it is in the works!

      Pw

  4. Peter Stubbins says:

    Is this the same Donald Westlake who was at Cherry Point NC USMC with me in 1957?

    • pewestlake says:

      My dad served in the Air Force and was stationed in Germany in the mid-50s. I would say probably not, unless you were sharing the base with the AF and my dad was passing through. Westlake is only a semi-common name. I suspect your search will not be in vain.

      Good luck!

      Pw

  5. Wendy says:

    Hi

    I am so pleased to see the website updated (I used to visit regularly, since his death I find it enters my consciousness at this time of year).

    I have loved Westlake books since I first found “Help I’m Being Held Prisoner” in 1977. I came to regard Donald as something of a grandfather figure, a constant in my life, and someone whose writing made me feel like there was such a strong connection between us that it was personal. My grandfather died when I was in my early twenties, and Donald never knew it but he was a surrogate!

    His books have reduced me to tears of laughter, on buses, in bed at night, in public and in private. I read my collection so often, that the tears are flowing and the shoulders heaving long before I get to the punchline. I once found a book of his – Jimmy the Kid – at a second hand market. I had read a library copy but been unable to find a copy to buy. The stallholder thought I was having a heart attack, I was so ecstatic at finding it!

    I was so upset to read of his death, and felt it personally. As a Scot, I now always think of Donald Westlake at Hogmanay, and raise a glass to him, a truly great writer with an epic sense of comedic timing and plot creation. I miss him!

    • pewestlake says:

      I miss him, too! Thank you for sharing your story. I’m still amazed by how deeply Don’s work touched so many lives. And it will be nice to know that at least one more glass is being raised for Don on the anniversary of his passing (though I suspect there are more). Thanks for that.

      We’re all one-of-a-kind but he really made the point!

      All the best,
      Pw

  6. Naomi Bradshaw says:

    It’s an absolute CRIME that he had to die. Oh.
    It figures.

  7. Naomi Bradshaw says:

    In all of his books that I’ve read so far, I have seen maybe 2, maybe 3 at most, typos. And they probably weren’t his. I just made one in my e-mail address which I now have corrected, so will repeat a comment I just tried to make:

    It’s an absolute CRIME that he had to die. Oh.
    It figures.

    • pewestlake says:

      I see what you did there. :)

      Actually, he rarely corrected his first drafts and left plenty of typos in for the editors. There’s only so much correction tape a stream-of-consciousness writer can tolerate, you know. But he did type at a frightening pace and made very few mistakes on the first pass. And he was so accustomed to the manual Smith-Corona that he found it almost impossible to type on anything else.

      Thanks for the visit and condolences.

      All the best,
      Pw

  8. Frances says:

    Thank you for continuing with this site! Your father’s works are much appreciated within the mystery genre. Our clients are always asking for them in my shop! I have most of them in my personal collection.

  9. Gershon Silins says:

    Like so many others, I was shocked and saddened by Donald Westlake’s passing. I continue to scout for Westlake novels I haven’t read, and this website will help me find the ones written under pseudonyms I didn’t know about. I will always remember reading Dancing Aztecs in 1981 in a dingy New York diner at around 108th and Broaway, laughing out loud and getting the kinds of looks that you might expect from other, quieter customers.

  10. Hello, Mr. Westlake,
    Thanks so much for such a thorough site devoted to your dad’s work.
    I’m a contributor to the online publication Word & Film, which this week highlighted the upcoming release of the movie “Parker” (with some of your comments about the film), as well as your father’s other forays into film (other books adapted as films, and screenplays he wrote). We included a link to your site. I’m sharing a link to our story here: http://www.wordandfilm.com/2013/01/parker-as-parker-the-long-road-to-the-big-screen/.
    Please don’t hesitate to contact me directly if I can be of further assistance.
    Best,
    Valerie Kalfrin

    • pewestlake says:

      Thank you, Valerie. I saw your piece and thought it was very nice. Thanks for the links and the mention. Hope you see and enjoy the movie. It’s pretty darn good!

  11. Joe Riccobono says:

    Great article posted yesterday covering the work of Mr. Donald E. Westlake. While much of the article pertains to the character Parker, it’s still a rewarding read covering the span of Mr. Westlake’s career.

    http://www.grantland.com/story/_/id/8876204/donald-westlake-man-created-parker-quest-perfect-character

  12. What a great site! I was introduced to Donald E. Westlake’s work by writer friend of mine William C. Martel; who happened to pen many crime films himself. I’ve always been an avid reader but had somehow missed Mr. Westlake’s wonderful stories. It’s safe to say that they’re now easily one of my favorite series of all time, and that’s a lot considering that I’m no youngster. The audible audiobooks are especially great, narrated perfectly.

    Thank you for the wonderful website and some personal insight into your father’s work. He’s an inspiration for all of us who’ve ever held a pen or planned a heist.

    • pewestlake says:

      Shawn, thanks for stopping by and for the kind note. I listened to my first audio book last year, “The Comedy is Finished,” and thought it was a great way to take in another Westlake title. Unfortunately, I thought the VO artist got the lead character’s persona wrong but it didn’t detract too much.

      Don has also been an inspiration to people, like me, who don’t have anywhere near his writing talent but can still benefit from his wisdom and discipline.

      Thanks again and sorry for the delayed reply.

      Pw

  13. Chuck LaForte says:

    My introduction to Westlake was in the 8th grade with Cops and Robbers; I was hooked. That was 34 years ago. I have amassed over 60 hardcover Westlake titles in my collection, a few are inscribed, though not to me; I found them in a used book store and am happy to own them. Several early titles have alluded me and can be quite pricey. My recent find was a very clean edition of Gangway. I was excited to find this and enjoyed the story. I was elated to pick up the last couple titles published after his passing. One day I hope to have them all. I was deeply saddened at Don’s passing as I felt he was like a distant friend, always there with a great story about a bumbling crook or some other adventure.

    • pewestlake says:

      Hi Chuck,

      It took me many years to come around to the Parker series but I drank it all up in just a few months when I finally did. I knew Don was fairly popular and highly regarded among his fans but running this site has revealed a devotion to his prose that I’m still absorbing. I thought it was just my familial bias but he really was a very important innovator. I hope his contributions are remembered for ages to come.

      Thanks for stopping by with the friendly note.

      Pw

  14. Toshihiro Saida says:

    Thank you for continuing this website. I’m Japanese. I am a big fan of your father, especially Richard Stark. I love to read Paker series and have read almost all of them. Unfortunately, after Firebreak, they haven’t been traslated into Japanese. So I read Breakout, Nobody runs forever, Ask the parrot,and Dirty money in English. I was very excited and touched. Moreover, I was surprised and pleased to find that the last three books are connected in the story. I am dying to translate these four books into Japanese and introduce them to readers in Japan. It is my dream. Bye for now.

    • pewestlake says:

      Toshihiro,
      I’d be very interested to learn about the differences and similarities you discovered when you switched from reading the Japanese translations to the English. As I go through Don’s catalog (slowly!), I come upon all kind of little differences in translation to various languages, especially the Italian versions. I’ll find out if there are any plans to finish translating the Parker series to Japanese. Nobody should be denied the last few books in the series!

      Thanks for the note and kind remarks. I appreciate your enthusiasm very much.

      Don’t be a stranger!

      Pw

  15. Pat Woodbury says:

    Love Dortmunder. Am reading Brothers Keepers. So much commentary on many things that I agree with. His (authors) background seems Roman Catholic but the scripture contest clearly isn’t. Where’d he get that from? He scares me. I’m 76, my house is a mess. I’m obsessed ( but not to point of getting it cleaned up) with death. What if I should die? I’d be sooo embarrassed!

    • pewestlake says:

      Hi Pat,

      I don’t know where he got the scripture contest from but I’ll try to find out. He did have a scary mind at times! Imagine being a teenager trying to get away with teenager crap in his house! Yeah, no.

      The only piece of good news about dying is that we won’t give a damn anymore! So at least there’s that. ;-)

      Thanks for stopping by and the kind note.

      Pw

  16. Tom Bennett says:

    You have a great site. My father, the illustrator Harry Bennett, passed away back in November, 2012. He created the art for quite a few of Parker/Stark paperbacks in the 60′s: The Hunter, Man With the Getaway Face, The Outfit, The Mourner, The Score, The Jugger, The Seventh, among others. That was a wild, fun era. Your father made some strong contributions to popular fiction culture.
    Your site inspires me to devote a forum dedicated to my dad. Thank you.

    • pewestlake says:

      Hi Tom,

      I’m so pleased that my work here has inspired you to do a similar tribute for your dad. His was the original visualization of Parker and I always loved what he did with the hands. Great stuff! Please send anything you post my way and I’ll link to it here.

      My father was dragged, kicking and screaming, into the internet age so it was long overdue by the time I got involved. He deserves a special place in American culture and I hope this little site will help keep that flame alive. And I hope your dad’s contributions are similarly preserved and extolled.

      All the best,
      Pw

  17. Gary Hyslop says:

    I had just suggested the Dortmunder series to a friend and went online to find a list of titles for her when I saw that Donald E. Westlake died in ’08. I am truly sorry. I had hoped he would write for the rest of my life. The man was incredibly talented and had a sense of humor that brought me to my knees sometimes. He will be greatly missed.

    “Kahawa” is still one of the most riveting works of non-fiction I’ve read. It truly reads like one of Westlake’s best crime novels.

    • pewestlake says:

      Thank you, Gary. He was the definition of unique. And I agree with you on “Kahawa.” It also reminded me of “Catch-22″ in a lot of ways. I understand there may be a screenplay floating around somewhere and I’m trying to find out the status on the original option. It is long overdue for that book to become a movie.

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your kind thoughts.

      All the best,
      Pw

  18. Richard Bennett says:

    Thanks for keeping up the website. I have been coming to this site every 6 months and was hoping to see if there was new information on any novels that your father wrote prior to his death. He was my favorite author and have read most of his novels. Thanks and keep up the good work.

    • pewestlake says:

      Hi Richard. Thanks for the encouragement and for repeatedly stopping by! The only two novels published posthumously are “Memory” and “The Comedy is Finished.” If any other old manuscripts come to light, you can rest assured it will be announced with full fanfare here!

      Thanks again,
      Pw

  19. Bud Elder says:

    Interviewed your father many times over the years. He had, for some reason, a great feeling about Oklahoma. I absolutely LOVE the site and appreciate your work to get all the stuff collected. I know that Costa Gavras made a movie of, what, “The Ax?” Is that available for American audiences to see?”

    • pewestlake says:

      Hi Bud and thanks for the encouraging comment! I’m so glad you like the site. It’s a slow-going labor of love and it’s deeply gratifying to know the effort is appreciated. I wasn’t aware of Don’s affection for Oklahoma but it doesn’t surprise me. He spent a lot of time driving around the lower 48 and his affinity for OK may be partly a result of the high speed limits!

      Yes, Gavras directed “The Ax,” but it’s best known by the French title, “La Couperet” (also “The Ax”). It’s available on DVD from Netflix and the soundtrack is available at Amazon. It’s a good movie. Hope you get a chance to see it.

      Thanks for stopping by and the kind words.

      Pw

  20. Dear Paul: I am both moved and overjoyed by the work you’re doing on your father’s behalf. Thank you for taking it on. I have been a devoted fan of his stick since the early 60s, have done my poor best to imitate him since making my own first story sale in 1972, and am proud to have exchanged letters with him a few times. He wrote to me once that he considered himself a writer of grim existential tragedies of the human condition….which everyone kept insisting on misunderstanding! No other artist in any genre has ever made me laugh so much, so hard, or so consistently. One of the great regrets of my life is never meeting him; it almost happened once at a writers’ festival, but my flight left at exactly the same time his arrived. Sigh. The very best of luck to you with your ongoing project. Having just this week read both THE COMEDY IS FINISHED and his biography of Elizabeth Taylor, I believe I may have now run the table on him. But I hope I’m wrong.

    • pewestlake says:

      Spider,

      Thanks so much for the visit and sharing your memories. I’m constantly blown away by the impact Don has had on so many published authors. You have an enviable career and it’s deeply gratifying to learn that Don played a small role in your development as a writer. Thanks very much for sharing.

      If you haven’t read “Under an English Heaven,” the non-fiction history of the Anguillan “revolution,” I highly recommend it. Side-splittingly funny in a not-too-condescending manner. And the Anguillans still love it to this day.

      Also, I’ve unearthed a few old titles you might want to check out. Until recently, only a few people even knew that Don had helped another writer finish a book under the pseudonym, “Barbara Wilson.” Also, the first title under the house psuedonym, “John Dexter” (a name used by several writers), was his. So it’s possible you still have more “new” Westlakes in your future.

      Thanks for the visit and let me know if you have, in fact, read the whole canon!

      All the best,
      Pw

  21. Joel says:

    Dear Mr. Westlake,

    Since I first picked up a copy of “The Road to Ruin” at a library book sale, I’ve been an enthusiastic fan of your father’s works. I’ve read a number of his standalone novels and some of the Parker series, but it’s the character of John Archibald Dortmunder who holds my primary devotion. I own every one of the novels as well as all of the short stories that featured Dortmunder; I’ve even written a couple of short stories featuring Dortmunder and company for my own personal enjoyment.

    At the risk of offending you or seeming to slight your father’s legacy, would you be at all interested in discussing the possibility of publishing a couple of new Dortmunder short stories, or possibly even a full-length novel?

    As reference, I’ve listed my Lulu self-publishing site; I would be glad to send you, at my expense, copies of anything you would like to read, and I would be honored to be given the chance to email you the Dortmunder short stories I’ve written.

    I completely understand if you are not interested in this possibility, and I would not want to do anything to infringe on your father’s legacy or the amazing characters he created. Either way, I look forward to hearing from you. Thank you for continuing to promote your father’s books and stories through this website.

    Yours sincerely,
    ~Joel

    • pewestlake says:

      Hi Joel,

      Thank you so much for the visit and for your enthusiasm for Don’s work. I’m personally very interested in what you’ve done with the characters but you should know that the family has decided not to allow the characters to be used in any new stories or novels, as a rule. The consensus is that Don’s sardonic wit and unique writing style are too difficult to replicate to do justice to the characters or the storytelling. And even if his writing was replicable, it still wouldn’t be “Don.”

      All that said, I’d still be interested in reading your work and sharing it with the family. If you’re still interested in sending the material, drop an email to me at pewestlake[at]gmail.com and let me know you did so here so I can be sure you weren’t caught by the spam filter.

      Thanks again for stopping by and for being such a big fan. Your enthusiasm won’t go unnoticed at the homestead!

      All the best,
      Pw

  22. Paul; Great you’re keeping your alive for us, his fans. Parker is my main guy. I’m almost through reading all the books, and my own two series characters, Baylor Ruymble and Logan Sand carry many of his traits. Nobody will ever do it as good as Westlake writing azs Stark though. I was surprised to learn he never wrote a best seller. That’s criminal. Keep up the good work.

  23. Sorry for the typos, it didn’t print like I wrote it.

  24. Jill Jones says:

    Dear Paul:
    Thank you for this site. I’m a long-time Westlake fan; I started out reading “The Busy Body,” and just read on from there, having scoured libraries and used book stores, and keeping every Westlake I find. This is a great place for me to come to find what he has written that I haven’t read yet, and to learn about your Dad…I will be back, for sure.

  25. Lynn Munroe says:

    Paul – Wanted to thank you for maintaining this fine site dedicated to your Dad. He was one of my favorite authors and just a great guy, always very kind to me. I have a couple questions, can you email me? Lynn

  26. I discovered Donald Westlake – and John Dortmunder – a couple of years ago and my life has been richer (and funnier) since. What a talent your dad had! He was such an elegant writer. He could tell the most complex story simply. The story would flow and dip and dive, but never lose you. And now, I’ve discovered Sam Holt and the magic that your dad was lives on.
    You should be very proud of him!

  27. Pat black says:

    I buy many of my used books online at thriftbooks.com. Free shipping. Many titles are $3.99. Also Awsesomebooks.com. Tho that is really good for UK books. Also mostly free shipping.
    Love Dortmunder! Believe I have all of them now. I don’t usually root for the crooks, but who can help it in these books?! I don’t like violence or suspense so these suit me perfectly. Many thanks to your father for oh so many hours of enjoyment! And a plus is I love to reread them over and over, even knowing the end!

  28. Alicia says:

    Thank you for creating this website in honor of your father. I truly enjoyed “Parker” and can’t wait to read more of his work. I’m sure your father would be very proud of you for keeping his work alive. You move me :)

  29. Mark Scott says:

    Dear Mr Westlake,

    Thank you so much for this site. I have been a fan of your father’s work since I read Help, I am being held prisoner back in the late 70′s. I had never written a fan letter to anyone before so several years ago I tried to find an email address for your father so that I could tell him how much I enjoyed his writing. I was very upset the last time I checked a couple of years ago that he had died before I had the chance to write him.

    Thanks also for updating his bibliography and especially including the Starship Hopeful series. I had read them in Playboy but could never find them again. Any chance of publishing a collection of them?

    Sincerely,

    Mark Scott

  30. peggy sue boyington says:

    First book of Donald Westlake I read was dancing Aztec priests. I never knew a writer could b so lol funny! I remember chasing around family members making them listen to certain scenes as I read them out loud. And then dortmunder series. John & Andy & may & stan-they are like family to me too. Your dad was such a funny heartwarming writer. We will miss new stories from him. Thank you for making his old stories so much easier to find! And btw you are quite the handsome lad! Keep up the good work

  31. Dear Paul

    I first discovered your Dad’s work forty years ago, at one of the few times he was published in Britain. My local library had almost a dozen of his books, the first of which I read being ‘Adios Scheherezade’, which is still today one of the most fascinating books I have ever read, and one of the very few I’ve met that successfully combine humour and pain.

    The second one was ‘The Hot Rock’, and I am still hooked today. In fact, I’m currently blogging the Dortmunder series on my blog (http://mbc1955.wordpress.com/), as a lead-up to reading ‘Walking Around Money’ – the last Dortmunder story I can ever read. Humour and sadness.

    I’d like to congratulate the family on their stance about your father’s characters. It’s one thing for fans, such as the gentleman who appeared above, to write stories for their own amusement, and even share them with fellow enthusiasts, but as a writer myself I have always strongly believed that the only true legitimacy comes from the author, and I’m delighted that you are against ‘cashing in’.

    You are a worthy curator of your Dad’s inestimable legacy. Thanks indeed.

  32. Vicki says:

    Loved the Dortmunder books, and just stumbled on all these other pen names and more books thru some postings on bookish.com. Thank you for maintaining this site.

  33. Randy smith says:

    Just watched the movie “Parker” and seen the “in memory of” and looked on line. I’ll be hitting the book store tomorrow!!

  34. Rich W says:

    I lived in the same barracks as your Dad at Ramstein Air Base in 1955. I remember him sitting in the orderly room at night, typing stories to submit to crime magazines. Chatted with him quite a few times. We had several units in the barracks, think he may have been in either the postal detachment or the weather detachment. Still have some old b&w photos of the barracks, but none of your Dad.

  35. Jennifer says:

    I have been reading Westlake for years and he is one of my favorite authors. My mother and I have both recently discovered the Parker books and love them. Problem is I can’t seem to find the last three books, Nobody Runs Forever, Dirty Money, and Ask The Parrot. Does anyone here know where I could find them, other than scouring used book stores? Are they currently in print?

  36. Rich Wall says:

    I posted a comment from my Kindle, don’t see it here so maybe it didn’t make it.

    I was stationed at Ramstein Air Base, Germany in 1955 and lived in the same barracks as your Dad. There were several detachments in the building. He was either in the Postal detachment or the Weather Detachment, not sure which one. He would be sitting in the orderly room, on the first floor most nights using the typewriter to write stories he said he was sending to crime magazines. Had chats with him many nights when I was on duty, as Charge of Quarters (CQ) for the night, to answer the phone etc. Nobody had personal phones in their rooms, and we had 2 to 3 men in each room. He often talked of his ambition to become an author. Not until many years later when browsing through the shelves at the library did I stumble across his books, seeing his picture on the cover confirmed that. I have pictures of the outside of the barracks building but none of your Dad.
    There is a web site for Sampson Air Force Base, NY veterans, where he most likely went through basic training…Geneva, NY. They have pictures of many of the basic training flights. You can search by name and maybe find a picture of the group of guys he went through basic training with in a picture including him in uniform. Your efforts to maintain this site are sure appreciated by his fans.

    Rich

    • pewestlake says:

      Rich,

      Very sorry for the long delay in replying to your comment.

      Thank you for recounting your experience with Don. I had the pleasure of doing theater and a few other projects with him, giving me more than the usual insight into how he worked and ticked. But his life as a young man has always been somewhat shrouded in mystery.

      I know he burned with the desire to write from an early age but I didn’t know he often shared that ambition with others. He was a workaholic for as long as I knew him. It seemed to me that it was probably his way all along. This is a wonderful addition to my personal portrait of my dad.

      Much appreciated!

      Best,
      Pw

  37. Shawn says:

    Just finished watching 2013 Parker on Netflix. The ending credit mentioned in memory of Donald E. Westlake. I was wondering what the connection was. It was a great movie.

  38. Parker was based on the Donald E. Westlake (under his pen name Richard Stark) novel called “Flashfire”. If you enjoy the film then pick up the Richard Stark Parker series of books. You’ll like those even more.

  39. Hi Paul – fantastic site and thanks for all the hard work in keeping it up to date. I have been a fan of your father since I first read the Dortmunder books when I was ten years old. I am now one of the partners in Santana Films, a company first put together in 1948 by Humphrey Bogart. I recently partnered with the Bogart estate to revive the company, and to focus on crime thrillers and noirs. Could you please let me know, either here or through private e-mail, who represents film rights for the estate? Thanks so much. I think a Bogart/Westlake combination could be a pretty amazing match. Thanks again for everything.

    • pewestlake says:

      Hi Steve and thanks! I watched the trailer for “This Last Lonely Place” and it looks very pulpy. Always appreciate a strong female character.

      Your idea sounds very intriguing. I’ll send an email to the contact form on your website and we’ll take it from there.

      Thanks for the visit and the note and hope we can put something of yours in the multimedia section someday!

      All the best,
      Pw

  40. Mark Higgs says:

    We didn’t realize that Donald E. Westlake had passed on until recently we saw, “In memory of Donald E. Westlake” at the end of the credits for a movie ?? we watched. So I Googled the name.
    My wife had introduced me to the Dortmunder series. We loved to listen to the books on tape as we traveled by car. We fell in love with the recurring characters. We sometimes call our male border collie, “John,” as we imagine his expression at times must resemble Dortmunder’s. We will miss Donald’s work.

    • Pat black says:

      As shall we all! Mostly dearly beloved Dortmunder. Why did your dad waste time on Parker when Dortmunder is so superior! ? In spite of the misbegotten fans who praise the wrong character. Really wish you’d find a few more Dortmunder and pals.

      • pewestlake says:

        Parker put me and my siblings through college. That’s why. :)

        Have you read all the Dortmunder short stories? I’m working on that part of the bibliography, too. But it’s going to take some time for me to get through the entire catalog. In the meantime, the Thrilling Detective website has a good list of Don’s short stories with the Dortmunders indicated. Might be hard to track them down but I’m working on that, too!

        http://www.thrillingdetective.com/trivia/westlake.html

    • pewestlake says:

      The dedication was at the end of “Parker,” the Jason Statham version. It was a nice touch by the filmmakers.

      Dortmunder was my introduction to Don’s work, too. Had me in stitches all the way through. I just finished “Killing Time,” one of his early novels. Not so funny but a very satisfying quasi-detective story. For a fella who tended to write about the bad guy, you can see why he was so well appreciated by the detective story crowd.

      Thanks for the visit and the kind remarks.
      Pw

  41. I just heard about your father’s passing and I as shocked to hear about it. I am sorry to hear that an amazing writer has passed. I remember the first book I read by him was Bankshot at around 13 (oh geez 13 years ago) which got me hooked onto the Dortmunder Novels. Ever since then I have been on the search for other books by him. I especially love The Hook, it kept me captivated. His writing is one of the main reasons that inspired me to try my hand at becoming a writer myself. Great website, I’m sure I will be visiting again in the future!

    • Pat black says:

      How about oh geez 63 years ago. You young things….

    • pewestlake says:

      Thank you, Dallas. I’m glad his many fans have a place to visit and enjoy.

      The Hook is among my least favorite of his stories, probably because I think both men are assholes. It’s a good, tight story, though. And it reveals a lot about the foibles of sustaining a career as a writer. My entire family is lucky that Don was such a natural.

      I dropped by your blog. Interesting reads and bold choices, especially in our world of self-flattering PR. If you don’t get around to that great novel, you’ll at least make a good conversationalist. Ever consider radio? :)

      Thanks for the visit and the kind words. Hope you come back often.

      Pw

  42. Pat black says:

    I think so. ( got all short Dortmunders) ill have to check the web site to see. I love short stories. Not out of any personal expertise, just cuz they’re short and fit small time slots. If I start a book I tend to finish it before sleeping. So for many years as a working single mother I had to give up reading altogether lest I be a ….. every day! Now I’m retired… Ah life is good!

  43. Pat black says:

    Well I suppose you deserved an education!
    That list is impressive! I got my list from good ole Wiki. I’ve only read his Dortmunder shorts that have appeared in anthologies.
    So… I’ve been wondering. Why haven’t you read them all? Are children of writers more likely to see their parents as parents than as writers? At least when young? So you started late?

    • pewestlake says:

      He was dad first and foremost for many years. Only when I was mature enough to fully appreciate his work did the magnitude of his accomplishments come into focus. He worked every business day and often on weekends and that happened behind a closed office door. We saw the finished products when they were handed out at Christmas. Otherwise, it was just another day at the office. I can’t speak for other families but that seems to be the size of things for ours.

      I was luckier than most of my siblings in that I was able to collaborate on various projects with him when I got older. We acted in two plays (community theater) with multiple scenes together. I helped him write a couple book reviews and he handed me a job writing a screenplay he wanted nothing to do with but that fit my musical background. (Don liked my ideas but the producers didn’t like that I’d made the main character a black man. Oops!)

      The one project all of us got to participate in at one time or another was the series of mystery weekends he staged at Mohonk Mountain House (overlooking the Hudson Valley) over the course of nine years. I was a “suspect” in two mysteries and participated in the filming for one of them. It was a hoot. By the time I graduated high school, I had already worked with my father multiple times and had a deep respect for his creative process.

      I’ve read most of his novels now, including all the Starks and even Ex Officio. I’m slowly working my way through the shorts. I plan on reproducing the ones that are out of print here. Stay tuned!

      Pw

  44. Tom Jamieson says:

    Thanks Paul. I appreciate your response and especially your willingness to sort me out with some images. Very much obliged.

  45. Jim Hassett says:

    Looks like the long lost Mise a sac (1967) may be getting a release.A French film festival is soon to screen a print of the film with English subs.Here’s the link:
    http://www.moma.org/visit/calendar/film_screenings/19300

    • Jim Hassett says:

      No interest in this?It’s probably the least known of all Westlake adaptations,even in France where it apparently hasn’t had a television screening since the seventies yet it’s supposed to be very good indeed.My original post is badly phrased.The festival screening the film is actually being held in New York.Hopefully a DVD release is on the way.About time.

      • pewestlake says:

        On the contrary, I find it very interesting. Thank you for the heads up and sorry for the delayed reply (other obligations sometimes keep me from staying in touch here).

        There’s a website called GurlMedia that purports to have a copy of the movie for streaming but the hoops it makes one jump through and the scam-like setup make it totally untrustworthy and not worth anyone’s time. So, for now, it seems like the screening at MoMA is the only game in town.

        Thanks again for the FYI. I’ll be doing a post about it soon.

        Best,
        Pw

        • Jim Hassett says:

          GurlMedia is a scam site.Avoid at all costs.I’m sure they don’t have the film at all.Dullard that I am,I have only just now copped onto the fact that Mise a sac is screening at Museum of Modern Art so of course I didn’t need to tell you it was in New York.Stupid of me.Parker would not be impressed.Glad to hear you’re going to share your thoughts on the film.Perhaps you’re in a position to press for a wider release?

  46. Jack kennedy says:

    recently discovered you and your books. Counter/hero dortmunder is a gem. Mostly (wipe my eyes as I write) your smart cracks leave me in fits of laughter. Who done its with a bubling set of crooks, smart cracks and lampoons. What is next an opera. Best Jack

  47. I’m a fan. A big fan. Read all the Dortmunder and Comic Crime novels. I just finished “Put a Lid On It” and am re-reading “Money for Nothing.” Working my way through Parker. My wife has trouble with me when I read them in bed at night, because I laugh out loud and she can’t fall asleep. Other than that minor annoyance, we have a wonderful marriage. DEW was one of a kind. Wonderful story teller with a sense of humor that causes you to mark the page so you can go back later, write it down, and start using it in your own conversation so people will think you are wittier than you really are. I’ve added more than 10 points to my IQ already. I need more than 10, but I’m off to a good start. It says a lot when the son takes over the management of the legacy. that, to me, makes him even more special. To have that kind of relationship with his children is impressive. Thanks for this site. it is appreciated. All the best. KC

  48. I have been reading the Dortmunder novels. I really wish I had found them years ago. They are amazing. I aspire, as an author, to be as entertaining as those books are! Thanks for a fantastic website.

  49. Brent Evans says:

    Paul: I am hoping you may be able to explain what I think of as a bit of a mystery: The University Of Chicago Press reissued 23 of your father’s Richard Stark novels (20 Parkers and 3 Alan Grofield). The Parkers stopped at Firebreak and I have wondered ever since why Breakout, Nobody Runs Forever, Ask The Parrot, & Dirty Money weren’t reissued by the University Of Chicago Press as well. I recently corresponded with someone there in the appropriate department and was told that it was due to “not being able to secure the publication rights for the last 4 Parker titles…”. Who holds these rights (I would think that the “Estate” does not, as then we surely would have seen the finishing of the reissue program that the UofC Press nearly finished). I am hoping this changes before too long as it would be really nice to see them complete this project (I personally have the other titles in different editions but want to see them in the U of Chicago Press edtions).
    I am also hoping to see a reissue program for the rest of Donald’s books – the same as was recently done for Elmore Leonard’s books – a nice series of trade paperbacks. A lot of your father’s early books are very hard to find and then usually only in old badly yellowed mass market paperbacks (Mysterious Press has put out quite a few in eBook form but not in actual paper editions) – it’s definitely time to reissue them properly!
    Thanks very much for any light that you may be able to shed on these questions.

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