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

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


205 Replies to “Welcome”

  1. 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!
    Alan Lipsky

    1. 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.


      1. 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.
        Tom Jamieson

  2. 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?

    1. 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.


  3. 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.

    1. 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: https://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!


      1. 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!

    2. 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!


    1. 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!


  4. 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!

    1. 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,

  5. 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.

    1. 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,

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.
    Valerie Kalfrin

    1. 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!

  9. 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.

    1. 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.


  10. 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.

    1. 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.


  11. 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.

    1. 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!


  12. 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!

    1. 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.


      1. Opening my email I found a diatribe pretending to be fair against Muslims. So I deleted it and went to my FB page. A diatribe indicating all liberals are anti American…. Being thoroughly depressed at this point I deleted that as well and was flirting with ending it all when I thought of your father and Dortmunder. Two books and many hours later I could face living once again. Many thanks.

        1. “Doctor, my id hurts.”

          “Take two Dortmunders and call me in the morning.”

          It really is better to view the world as a sort of absurdist shaggy dog story. Makes so much more sense than taking things seriously. Our family is very lucky that Don figured out how to treat the world as the absurdity that it is and use that to put food on the table.

          Glad you’re still with us!

  13. 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.

    1. 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,

  14. 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.

    1. 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,

  15. 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.

    1. 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,

  16. 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?”

    1. 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.


  17. 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.

    1. 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,

  18. 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,

    1. 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,

  19. 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.

    1. Very belated thank you, George. Always like to hear from writers who found inspiration in Don’s work. Best of luck to you!

  20. 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.

    1. Very belated thanks for the comment, Jill. I hope you’ve continued to find this site useful. I just finished a big set of updates and new story pages. Look for a post on that in the next few days.


  21. 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

    1. Lynn, so sorry that I missed your comment when you posted it almost two years ago. Eek! I’ll send you an email via your website shortly.



  22. 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!

    1. Very sorry I missed your comment when you posted it, Rick. I haven’t scanned through these comments in too long.

      I’m more proud of my father every day. Thank you for the glowing endorsement!

      And best of luck with your writing!


      1. Thanks! When my sons were younger we listened to Dortmunder audiotapes in the evening. Harry Potter and your dad got them interested in reading.

        I’ve had some success as a short story writer. Getting that first novel published though has been elusive. Had some health problems recently, but hope to return to writing.

        Hope all is well, Paul – and thank you for replying.

  23. 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!

    1. Sorry I missed your comment when you posted it so long ago, Pat.

      I’ve only read a few my father’s books more than once but when I do, I always discover things I didn’t quite catch the first time through. He was a true craftsman.

      Thanks for the comment!


  24. 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 🙂

    1. Very belated thanks for your comment and approval. I certainly hope I’m doing justice to his memory and legacy.

      I’ll be posting about a new update in the next day or so, including new images of old magazines that printed entire Parker novels under different titles. Be sure to check it out.


  25. 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?


    Mark Scott

    1. Mark,

      Sorry I never got around to a reply. I moved twice in the last year and a half, in addition to welcoming my now seventeen-month old daughter into the world. Time is one commodity have very little of these days.

      But, you’ll be pleased to know, one way I’m using the small amount of free time I have is to put together a collection of my father’s short science fiction with the Starship Hopeful series as the centerpiece. I’ll make an announcement about it here, hopefully, early next year.


      1. Dear Paul,

        Better late than never! Congratulations on the birth of your daughter. Daughters are a prize, although generally very expensive ones. Looking forward to the Starship Hopeful collection. I think your father was a great at science fiction as he was at crime novel’s. I have read Tomorrow’s Crime cover to cover twice and will probably read it again soon.


        Mark Scott

        1. I’ve come to believe that Don didn’t do “science fiction” in the same way we tend to think about it culturally, a la Star Wars and Star Trek and Doctor Who, etc. He just told human stories with a different backdrop.

          The premise of the Starship Hopeful series could only be set in the future but the characters and situations are timeless. Anarchaos could easily be set in the wild west or the Asian subcontinent before the British arrived. The backdrop of the lone and forgotten planet lends a richer texture than a period piece from Earth’s past, but the characters and the situation could be from almost anywhere or anywhen.

          Don’s science fiction settings were just another stage design in the theater in his mind, rearranged to suit the characters and the story he wanted to tell. They may not have the technological fetish to dazzle the modern audience but the stories will stand the test of time.

        2. Oh, and many thanks for the congrats on our daughter. She’s already bankrupting us but what else is love for?


  26. 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

    1. Thank you for your generous words, Peggy! Sorry I didn’t reply until now. See my reply to Mark (above) for context.

      Hope you continue to enjoy the site!


  27. 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.

    1. Martin,

      Thank you for your wise and thoughtful observations. I would never attempt to emulate what my father did, not just because I couldn’t hope to write like him, but because his work shouldn’t be watered down by amateurish knockoffs. I do have a bit of writing in my background, some of it owed to Don’s help and encouragement, and maybe I’ll find time to develop my own voice in the future. Until then, this and publishing my father’s original work is as close I’ll get.

      All the best,

  28. 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.

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

  30. 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.

    1. I’m so sorry I missed your comment when you posted it all those months ago. I’m sure Don’s fans would love to read any stories you can tell. He wrote a travel piece for the Air Wing’s magazine about Bernkastle. I know he wrote for the Air Force in a more functionary role but not sure in what capacity. Maybe I should do more research on that.

      Thanks very much for the comment!


  31. 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?

  32. 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.


    1. 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!


  33. 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.

  34. 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.

  35. 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.

    1. 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,

  36. 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.

    1. 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.

      1. 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!


    2. 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.

  37. 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!

    1. 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.


  38. 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!

  39. 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?

    1. 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!


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

    1. 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.

      1. 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.


        1. 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?

  41. 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

  42. 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

    1. Kirk,

      Thank you for your wonderful observations. I, too, keep learning from my dad every time I read his books. It’s gratifying to know that my comparably paltry work on this site is well received and appreciated by my father’s fans.

      All the best,

  43. 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.

  44. 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.

    1. Brent,

      Sorry for the delayed reply. I haven’t had a chance to look into this question but my guess is that the publication rights in the original contract have yet to expire for those books. Not having looked at the contracts, but knowing how my father tended to operate, I would guess that the North American rights will eventually expire and revert back to the estate, at which point the UCP series could be completed.

      I have e-publishing projects ahead in the cue but possible reissue of older titles in trade paperback is on the list down the road.

      Thanks for the interest. I’ll keep you posted.


  45. I’ve been reading these books since I was in my teens and I’m 60 now, & still enjoying them. Nobody writes like him, he’s my favorite author. When I get them all read I’ll start over again. Love the audiobooks. I can’t express the amount of joy and delight these have brought me over the years.

  46. Great movie and good pock of the role players so there for when more coming soon Mr. Paul Westlake notify me lol

  47. Regrettably, I didn’t read one of your dad’s books until recently but am committed to reading them all. The style had me hooked right off the bat, the stories never lull and are enjoyable on many levels. I don’t like to claim any author as a single favorite but Donald Westlake is now high in that group. So glad I discovered him.

  48. Sono cresciuta ridendo con i libri di tuo padre. Mia madre era ed è tutt’ora una sua fan. Li posseggo ancora tutti e mi seguono in ogni casa che cambio. Ora cominciano a leggerli i miei figli. Un grande saluto da Roma – Italia.

  49. Mr. Westlake, please excuse this post but I couldn’t find a more direct way to contact you. I’m a huge fan of your father’s work, especially the Dortmunder books. I’ve published an homage to “The Hot Rock” called “The Hot Dog.” If you’re interested you can learn more about the book at my website. If you’re really interested I would be very happy to send you a copy. Regards, John Novak

  50. Most excellent “PARKER”
    Brings back memories of the French Rivera 1976′
    “Chance Prefers The Trained”
    Veteran, USMC

  51. Thank you so much for keeping this website going and particularly for making all the books available for kindle!

  52. I don’t know if you know but the blog section of your father’s site is defragging? I don’t know too much about PC Lingo, I just know that it’s not right.
    Sorry, to be the bearer of bad news! Sincere Fan!

    1. BeLinda,

      Thanks for the info but I don’t see any problem when I access the site from several different browsers/platforms. Can you tell me if it’s still happening on your end?


  53. I just finished a WELL worn library copy of 361, and I’ll be going through more of your father’s work. Thanks for maintaining the site.

  54. Any chance that the dortmunder novels are going to be reprinted any time soon. I’m having a very hard time finding a copy of most of them?

    1. I’m in the (slow) process of putting together a new collection of short stories (all originally published in the 80s and earlier) as an ebook and then following up to get everything that isn’t in ebook format published for Kindle, et al. After that, I plan to circle back and see if there’s a market for new print editions of any of the books. Meanwhile, Pat’s advice (below) is worth following.

      Thanks for your interest. I’ll make any publishing announcement on this site.


  55. Just wondering if you had any info on or thoughts about the re-surfacing of the long lost film “Mise a sac” based on “The Score”.After it’s screening at MOMA I had expected it to get a release.Can you tell us anything?

    1. Jim,

      Until the MOMA screening, I wasn’t even aware of any screenable copies of the film. Someone posted it in chunks on YouTube some time ago but I think it has since disappeared. I believe the estate owns the North American rights but we’d have to do some research.

      Thanks for the idea.


  56. Don’t know how to work this site. I get emails when you, my initial namesake, respond but then I can’t find it on here to comment on. .??? I’m impressed you can respond to your Italian readers in Italian!

    1. Pat,

      If you’re looking for a comment you posted under a different name, use the find function in your browser to locate the name you used on the page: control+F in windows, command+F in Mac OS.

      I have Google translate to thank for any other languages I use. I only hope it conveys what I actually want to say!

      Hope you find what you’re looking for,

  57. Dear Mr. Westlake,

    Happy New Year! Thank you for this wonderful site honoring your father’s work. I discovered Donald E. Westlake at the impressionable age of 16 and have been a fan ever since.

    I’m reaching out because I’m an independent sci-fi filmmaker based in Chicago, IL and I wanted to ask if there was a process in place for applying for film rights to Mr. Westlake’s short story fiction. There is a particular short story I am interested in that I would like to discuss. It is the first Westlake short story I read when I was 16 and it would be a dream come true to be able to adapt it into a film. I have experience in literary film adaption and am prepared to go through the proper channels to make this happen.

    Please take a moment to view my film studio website which I included with this message. Under the Projects section you can peruse my various film pieces and judge the quality of my work for yourself. More about me as filmmaker can be found under the Leadership question. My films have screened in major industry festivals and award shows all over the world and I even had the amazing experience of adapting some of my literary heroes’ work over the years, most notably the late Ray Bradbury in 2005 and Stephen King just last year. I actually personally spoke with Mr. Bradbury by phone which truly was a defining moment in my life.

    I look forward to hearing from you.


    1. Carlo,

      Sorry for the delayed reply. I’m also intrigued by my father’s science fiction work. I have a couple projects underway but nothing for film (as of yet). I’m interested in hearing about your idea. Please drop me an email at info@donaldwestlake.com when you have a chance.

      Meanwhile, to find out if the rights are available, you’ll want to contact Stephen Moore at the Paul Kohner agency in California. His email is stephen@paulkohner.com.

      Let me know what’s happening and best of luck!


  58. My late mother-in-law loved mysteries and was, I believe, the person who tipped me off to your dad’s work.
    The happy marriage of my favorite book reader, Joe Barrett, and his audio recording of “Slayground” has been keeping me company the last few days on my daily walks.
    I had no idea about your father’s other nom de plumes. It is daunting, but a pleasant prospective to have so much “unfinished business” as I smile my way through his “oeuvre”.
    Only about 80 to go.

    1. I knew I still had many books to read when I took over this website and started cataloging everything in my father’s library. What I didn’t expect was to uncover even more pseudonyms that most people never knew about. And then there’s the short non-fiction, a lot of which has been uncovered by Levi Stahl, editor of The Getaway Car. But even he missed a few things that I found and vice-versa. It’s quite a journey!

      I hope you continue to enjoy his work for years to come.

      Thanks for the note.


  59. I’ve read dozens of your father’s novels – all of the Dortmunders, I’m pretty sure, and I’m about halfway through the Parkers. I can’t remember a single one I didn’t enjoy, and I like prowling the internet for film versions. Are there any plans in the works for another Dortmunder film? My Ideal Dortmunder, the late Jerry Orhbach, is no longer available but I have not given up hope that someday I’ll see what Bill Murray could do with the character.

    Did your dad ever say which J.A.D. he liked best, or whom he would like to see in the role?

    1. I don’t remember my father ever mentioning a favorite actor for Dortmunder. I mentioned Harry Dean Stanton to him some time ago and he thought that was a pretty good idea but I don’t think he would have been a first choice. There are some great character actors who don’t get leading roles that would be a good fit.

      There are rumblings of another Dortmunder movie from time to time and the rights are owned by a few active filmmakers, but nothing is anywhere near production as far as I know. If anything happens, you can be sure it will be announced here!

      Thanks for the note.


  60. I see someone is reprinting Young & Innocent, which was credited to Edwin West. I wonder if the publisher got permission, and if he/they know(s) the author is actually Donald E. Westlake?

    1. I don’t know the details of that arrangement but I doubt very much that the publisher, Blackbird Books, is doing so without going through proper channels. They’re also reprinting Man Hungry (Alan Marshall) and Don’s biography of Elizabeth Taylor (John B. Allan), so I’m guessing they’re well aware of the provenance. Don’s widow, Abby Westlake, is astonished that anyone wants to read those early euphemism novels (as Don put it), but there never seems to be a lack of interest in vintage pulp… er, euphemism.

      Thanks for the inquiry. I’ll double-check now. 🙂


  61. I just finished re-reading Dancing Aztecs. And again, after almost three decades, I found myself helplessly laughing to tears. A second hand purchase, with, now, a broken spine, the book has accompanied me through several moves and still sits on my shelf among my treasures.
    I am saddened to find out that I am too late to thank Donald Westerlake (I am not a young woman and am just discovering the wonders of the internet).

  62. I have a dog eared paperback I acquired while on active duty. It was hilarious and each page kept me enthralled. Well….many years later…I always remembered the book and the mixture of fun & mystery made me always remember your Dad’s name. Just recently came across it-Tell The Truth-& reread it. Pure fun. Then a friend had some books to get rid of so..lo & behold…bunches of Westlake books. I’m on a roll! Wow…got lots of fun ahead…I know you are pretty proud of him. I
    never did know his bio so your website is very informative. THANKS!
    DEB in Darien

    1. It’s always gratifying to learn that this website is appreciated by fans of Don’s work. I hope you continue to get as much enjoyment out of it as I put into it.


  63. I think he is fantastic. I also think he has influences more writers than people realize. I see hints of his books like What’s the Worst That Could Happen all over.

  64. I purchased a used copy of THE BEST AMERICAN MYSTERY STORIES 2000, which your dad edited. Midway through reading it and marking it up, I discovered that he had signed the book.

    His spirit lives! (Doubtlessly, the value of the book has been marred by my own marginalia!)

    1. Great find! I just discovered a copy of an anthology edited by Brian Garfield in which Don managed to get multiple authors’ signatures. Images will be posted in the next update.


  65. Bonjour,
    Je pourrai bien sûr écrire un petit mot en anglais, mais comme c’est un hommage à M. D. Westlake, il est bien qu’il vienne d’ailleurs. je ne compte plus tout ce que j’ai lu de lui mais c’est toujours un grand plaisir. Je viens de finir “le contrat” (que je ne pouvais plus lâcher) et je me réjouis, que l’oeuvre de M. Westlake ayant été tellement abondante, j’aurai encore d’autres titres en réserve. Donc merci M. Westlake pour les bons moment que je passe à vous lire.

  66. My husband and I commuted back and forth weekly between Boston and Hartford for 4 and a half years. Dortmunder and Andy and Tiny and Stan were our companions on many of those trips. From time to time we had to stop beside I-84 to laugh safely. Such as when non-swimmer Andy decided to walk under water to the middle of a lake to help recover a full safe. Too much. Thank you DEW.

  67. hi! i wonder the following thing. some 20 yrs ago or so, i happened to read a book in Russian(i was already living in US, and had good English, but just the book was in Russian, given to me by my older bro), that contained at least some works by Mr. Wstlake. overall there were three pieces, and i am not sure if they all were from him, or it was a compilation of different authors. basically, i am most interested about the last one, which had a story of some sort of former leftist activist recruited by CIA in order to bust up a conspiracy of all sorts of extremist organizations and regimes, to destroy the ‘status quo’. i wonder if it was indeed a piece by Mr. Westlake, and in any case, if you night know what it was and what name might it have. i think one of the characters’ last name was Ten Kaat(or Caat), but i may be wrong
    best regards!

  68. Here’s a link to a very interesting article that I’ve just found on a website called Daily Grindhouse (‘Tough Films For The Rough Crowd’ !) about the movie version of The Outfit:


    Some nice observations in there, not just about the movie, but about Parker himself – and a link at the bottom of the article to an alternative (but equally respectful) piece from a different writer.

    Hopefully articles like this will bring renewed attention to this classic movie (and, perhaps one day, a DVD release packed with extras).

  69. Donald Westlake has given me 40 years of enormous pleasure. Off the top of my head I recall the conversation in “Why Me”. “My name is Sheri?”, to which the character replies “What’s the matter, aren’t you sure?” And in “Two Much”, the hero sleeping with his (imaginary) brother’s wife, says, “I’ve cuckolded other husbands, and suspect my wife cuckolded me, but never before has I performed both roles simultaneously.” Only a mind of Einsteinian brilliance could imagine a sentence like that.

    I find that after about 5 years, I’ve forgotten most of a book’s plot, so I can reread it and enjoy it as much as I did the first time. With so many Westlake books available, there is always a book coming up to its 5-year anniversary, and for that I am eternally gratefull.

    1. Thanks for the great comment. I hope you browse the bibliography to see if there are any other titles you can add to the five-year rotation. Happy reading!


  70. P,

    I’m actually reading my first Westlake novel, Somebody Owes Me Money. Brilliant.

    I became interested in crime novels a bit later in life, starting with the obvious Chandler and Hammett, and perhaps less obvious Manchette. (Manchette is an easy read for a leftist like me.) Anyway, should Hot Rock be my next one? What do you recommend?

    Was your father a fan of Manchette? Did he ever write political commentary *disguised* as a crime novel?

    Quite enjoying my first taste of Don’s certain brand of cleverness/not sure why I didn’t pick up one of his novels in my earlier years. Maybe I needed life to get to me before the plots would appeal.


    1. I think the most overtly political is Ex Officio, as by Timothy J. Culver, but it’s less about politics than psychology and family dynamics. There are observations about politics, government, etc, sprinkled throughout Don’s books but I don’t think he wrote anything specifically about politics or set to a political backdrop. Up Your Banners has some social commentary (from the minds/mouths of the characters) and involves a bit of political maneuvering. The Spy in the Ointment has a healthy dose of needling government, especially federal agencies. Killing Time and Killy, two early novels, have some insight on small town power brokering. Other than those, the political commentary just flows naturally from the situations and less from the plots. Perhaps other fans have better suggestions. But you won’t find anything overtly written to take on political institutions.

      Thanks for the visit and the question.


  71. Paul – Great work in keeping your father’s legacy alive.
    I am an Emmy nominated writer and production designer of The STEPFATHER in 1987 & it was an honor to bring one of your dad’s stories to the screen (after he “shadowed us” for a few days – your father finally visited the set.) I am currently reading the entire PARKER series (just finished FIREBREAK) and I can’t get the idea of a PARKER cable TV Series out of my head! Would those rights be available? If you visit my website you will see that I am the author of 6 published novels (the film rights to the first in the Vampire Of Siam series has been bought by Millennium Films) and I would be honored to do a “spec” pilot script if the estate would be interested in collaborating. We can discuss this via eMail. Thank you. Jim Newport

    1. Sorry for the long delayed reply, Jim. I’ve had a lot of distractions from the website i recent months, including a new addition to the family.

      You want to contact Susanna Einstein at Einstein Literary Management for info on film/TV rights. You can email her at susanna@einsteinliterary.com

      Best of luck and keep me in the loop.


    1. Jim,

      Please forgive the late reply. My wife and I welcomed our second child into the world on Oct. 21 and, as you can imagine, I’ve been a bit busy with that. I’ll check out your website and send you an email as soon as I can. I’m not sure about the status of TV rights for Parker. I’ll look into it.


  72. Peter

    Congratulations on the new member of your family.
    I’m reading BREAKOUT now – so just about through the whole Parker series.

    My new novel YANKEE DRAGON (#7) was published last week by California Times and is available exclusively on Amazon.

    I look forward to hearing more from you.


  73. Ten years ago, in the aftermath of Katrina, I found myself with too much spare time. Why not try one of these paperbacks in the drugstore? I did, and by golly, it was fun. I soon graduated from James Patterson and Jonathan Kellerman to Michael Connelly, Elmore Leonard, and John Grisham. Then I found Ed McBain. Somebody said get a library card and look for the noir writers of the 40’s and 50’s. Oh brother, I was off and running — Thompson, Goodis, Highsmith, Himes, Willeford. Then, browsing the W’s for another Willeford, there was Westlake — a Dormunder novel. Let’s try that one. I can not tell you how much enjoyment I have had with ol’ John and his string and now Parker. What a truly great writer (and I say writer, not author – yep I’ve read that one) Donald E. Westlake is. I’m currently consuming Nobody Runs Forever, and I thought HEY (three quarters in) there is a plot flaw. Everybody’s forgotten about the bounty hunter Keenan’s associate, Sandra. Did the grand master slip up? Well, of course he didn’t. Here she comes.
    Thank you for this website.

    1. Thank you for the great comment. I’m glad you enjoy the site, too. I hope it helps you discover more of Don’s work.


  74. May God bless ur family for eternity. & ur highly-regarded gardener Abby Westlake. I believe, Mr. Westlake u r in The Kingdom of God. RIP…

  75. A very belated thanks for maintaining this website (and curating your father’s work) so well. After learning of his death, I foolishly stopped checking in here regularly (as I used to), figuring that nothing new would be happening. My loss.

    Anyway, I wanted to add my voice to those whose lives have been enriched by Donald E. Westlake’s work. I discovered God Save the Mark during my undergrad years in the late 1960s, and that was enough to keep me looking out for new titles as they appeared, and look up the older ones. Then I discovered Stark, then Coe, and I devoured it all as I could find it. Now, 50 years later, I know I’ve read all the fiction and most of the nonfiction under those names, and I reread it regularly — just last night I picked up A Likely Story for the first time in years. (And noticed an implied subplot in some chapters that I THINK isn’t just my imagination…) I enjoyed it all, and so much is classic; comic fiction just doesn’t get better than Dancing Aztecs, which ought to be recognized as one of the great American novels, period.

    Anyway, thank you for what you’re doing on this site, and I wanted you to know how much your father’s work has enriched my life.

    1. Thank you for the wonderful comment. I’m glad you like the site and hope that continues for a long time. Look for a post on recent updates soon.


  76. Dear Paul,

    I am writing my master’s thesis on your father’s novel “The Outfit” and its graphic novel adaptation. Since I wasn’t able to find any information on the setting, I was wondering whether the Parker novels took place in Los Angeles or not?

    Best wishes,

    1. Hi Lea,

      For the most part, the Parker novels take place all over the United States. In The Outfit, Parker’s travels begin in Miami and end in Syracuse, NY, with stops in Georgia and New York City along the way, as I recall. There are also scenes in other parts of the country with other characters as they do jobs on Outfit operations around the country. The Handle begins on an island in the Gulf of Mexico and finishes in Mexico City, the only Parker novel that takes place outside of the lower 48. Parker goes where the story takes him and that’s almost never in one place.

  77. Yeah, I remember that more than one of the series focuses on upstate New York, another is around Indianapolis, one out in the West… They travel all over.

  78. Hi , Down in Tortola on vacation and watching a movie on my I-pad. PARKER was the movie and at the end a little statement about Donald E Westlake. I flashed back to Drowned Hopes. Thanks to your dads amazing work,I just got another laugh.Take care. Smiles, Steve

  79. I always wanted to thank Mr. Westlake for the sheer amount of pleasure he added to my life, and so was saddened when he passed – but here you are Paul with this wonderful site, so please allow me to pass on to you the many many thanks (maraming maraming salamat, as they say here in the Philippines) for … ‘the sheer amount’, etc.
    I first discovered your Dad when I was in the Glendale Library working on my PhD dissertation, reading some really boring and horribly written histories of Los angeles, when I chanced on ‘Drowned Hopes”. Such interesting characters, and such marvelous prose, was like an oasis in the desert. This was the first step in my leaving the world of politically correct and aesthetically tone-deaf academe for a much more profitable and enjoyable career as a private music teacher and keyboardist, which now has me ensconced on a minimal Soc Sec pension in the Philippines thirty years later. Along the way I read ALL your father’s books – some I felt were a little weak (and I got really tired of the description of the strategy room in the back of the bar for Dortmunder’s gang) but most were fine and many are, I believe, classics not just of mystery or popular writing but classic novels period – Drowned Hopes, The Axe, Dancing Aztecs, Bad News, the last two Parker novels (Parrot and Money) in particular, Trust Me on This – and many were just hilarious entertainments or had moments that I love to revisit (Dortmunder in the truck accidentally turning off the air con for the fish, etc).
    So your father’s work for me is much more than just some great books – it is one of the ten or twenty things that made my life wonderfuly worth living (along with my greatest sex, most exciting music performances, tastiest meals, and enchanting hiking adventures). So Paul, since I can’t tell your Dad (and even though I am a church pianist, have serious doubts about whether individuals survive in an afterlife), please accept from me this homage to him: and may his influence continue to do wonderful things for your life (as it apparently already has). Maraming salamat and G. bless, Paul from Lee Cronbach out here in the bundoks.

  80. Thanks, Alan, for this chance to get to know your dad’s work better.
    I knew him through his work with the Writers Guild of America, East, and through his Dortmunder stories. It’s great to know I’ve got about 90 more books to enjoy.

  81. A couple of years ago I dropped a few comments about the long lost movie “Mise a sac” (1967) based on The Score. It’s now on Youtube if you’re interested.

  82. Paul, thank you for curating this website. I’ve been a fan of your dad’s work since about 1987, I think, and have often contemplated compiling a cross-referenced database of his work, as I’ve always been fascinated (and entertained) by the numerous characters and places that seem to cross over from book to book, and from series to series. Just this past couple of weeks I read “Memory,” which I guess was his last book, and “The Cutie,” which is one of his earlier ones, and was startled to see Grove Street, in Greenwich Village, figuring in both. The character Archie Freihofer is mentioned in “The Cutie,” and I’m sure I’ve seen that name in some of the earlier caper books as well. Anyway, I just want to say that your dad is absolutely my favorite author.

  83. Your father has been my favorite author for the past five decades. I’ve read as many Westlake/Stark/Coe/Holt books as I’ve been able to find, many of them more than once. I find, after some time has passed, that a second reading is even better than the first. I hope someone is lobbying to have him awarded a National Medal of the Arts. He certainly deserves that honor in addition to all the others.

  84. I came to Mr. Westlake’s novels quite late, but I’m very glad I’ve found them. I enjoy John Dortmunder’s capers a lot, I always root for the ‘crooks’ to get the stash. Funny how our ‘morals’ go out of the window when we read a book or watch a film isn’t it ?

    One question, I notice that in passing a lot of distinctly English words and phrases are used in the books. As a Londoner it really jumps out (and I like it). Was Mr. Westlake enamoured of England or have English friends ?


  85. Any news on the publishing rights for the last four Parker novels? Apologies if this has already been asked and covered recently.

  86. I think I just found another favorite author to read. I might’ve read Mr. Westlake in the past. Well, I knew the name. Anyway, I’ve started to read Thieves’ Dozen, I hope it’s a good place to start. Also, Mr. Paul Westlake, you may find the scope of your father’s work intimidating, but I’ll bet he was proud of you.

  87. Couple of bits of news worth mentioning: first, the excellent fan site, ‘The Violent World of Parker’, seems to have disappeared. This fantastic resource for anyone who loves the Parker books is certainly quite a loss, and we can only hope that the situation is only temporary.

    Second, a new Donald Westlake book is to be published in June 2017! (Cannot believe this development hasn’t been heralded on this site yet, of all places).

    “Forever and a Death” is the novelized version of Mr Westlake’s unused 007 script from the late 90s, and will be published by Hard Case Crime. The Bond character is, inevitably, present under an alternative name.

    Check out the link, which includes artwork:

  88. Couple of bits of news worth mentioning: first, the excellent fan site, ‘The Violent World of Parker’, seems to have disappeared. This fantastic resource for anyone who loves the Parker books is certainly quite a loss, and we can only hope that the situation is only temporary.
    Second, a new Donald Westlake book is to be published in June 2017! (Cannot believe this development hasn’t been heralded on this site yet, of all places).
    “Forever and a Death” is the novelized version of Mr Westlake’s unused 007 script from the late 90s, and will be published by Hard Case Crime. The Bond character is, inevitably, present under an alternative name.
    Check out the link, which includes artwork:

    1. Hi Jim,

      I will be publishing a post on Forever and a Death. I’m waiting to get a good version of the cover art and anything else Hard Case is willing to provide.

      As to The Violent World of Parker website, it appears as though Nick hasn’t updated it in quite a while but it’s still there. Maybe it was down when you last checked but I was just there and it’s (mostly) intact.

      Thanks for the info and the prodding.

      All the best,

    2. Correction: I didn’t realize that I was viewing the Violent World of Parker site on the Wayback Machine. So it appears you’re right that VWOP has disappeared (Except for a placeholder page). (And when I said Nick, I meant Trent. Nick runs a different site.) Anyhoo, I’ll see if I can figure out what happened and report back here.


  89. Thank you Paul for this wonderful website about Donald Westlake.
    I loved his books for so many years and you cannot believe how happy I was to discover he was also Richard Stark!!!
    Such different writing styles and all of them are excellent!
    Nowadays when I find that a well thought out plan is about to fall through, I think to myself, “Hmmm what would Dortmunder do?”
    I miss Donald Westlake very much.

    1. Don’t we all! I keep longing to see another Dortmundef. Wish someone else could take over. But only if they could do almost as well. No one could do as well.

  90. I discovered Donald E. Westlake back in the late 60’s or early 70’s. I remember his photo on the dust cover was that of a young man in his 30’s. I’ve looked in vain for a photo of him at that age since but have only found him as an older,man. I believe the book was cops and robbers. I started to read all the books I could get my hands on done by him. I eventually discovered Richard Stark and then Tucker Coe. I love everything I’ve read by him. I truly am affectionate towards Dortmunder, Mae, Kelp, Tiny, Stanley, etc and the many escapades they find themselves involved in. But I truly enjoy Parker and Claire more and root for them. I’ve read all of the Parker stories, a sizeable number of Dortmunders and quite a few of the stand alones. I really enjoyed the one about the Angel who came to Earth in mortal guise. I just want to say as a mystery fan, your father is my absolute favorite. His incisive descriptions, dialogue, psychological and philosophical insight, character development and pacing were superlative. His intellect, wit and humorous plot developments were peerless. I think it’s a crime that he is under appreciated and hasn’t received more acclaim. Virtually every book of his I’ve read draws me in and makes it hard for me to put down. I keep all of his books, re-reads them and will continue to do so. Now that I have discovered his other non-de-plumes I will make every effort to locate them, include them in my collection and read and re-read them as well. My favorite screen adaptation of his was Lee Marvin’s Point Blank. I read that Donald felt Robert Duvall’s portrayal was better in the Outfit but I preferred Lee Marvin. I have both DVD’s as well as the Mel Gibson and Jason Statham portrayals.
    I was really saddened at his death. Certain people you grow up with, become so familiar with and are such a part of your life, it is so disheartening when they are gone. Thank you for this wonderful homage and if you could do anything to inspire the return of the The violent world of Parker, it would be most appreciative.

  91. I read Help I Am Being Held Prisoner, and Cops And Robbers as a teen back in the seventies. Borrowed them from our town’s little library. I am 54 now and have never forgotten these two books, they were that good. Hysterical, really. Now that I have a Kindle, I went looking for them, too reread this bit of my teenage years. Neither one available. Disappointed, but oh my, so many more to choose from! Guess I’d better get busy. Thank you for keeping the website up, and my condolences on the loss of your father in 2008. He was an amazing man to know I am guessing. Peace.

  92. Just finishing up High Adventure a month after reading one of the Stark graphic adaptations. Mr. Westlake was the most readable comic mystery writers I’ve read, and in Stark one of the starkest (sorry!). Wonderful reads and I’ve yet to see a sub par one.

  93. Holy Smokes, just finished the last word of Memory (for the second time). I’m not a critic or a reviewer of novels, but I’ve read a few, as I’m sure all Westlake fans have. Memory is a stunner. For those of you who haven’t read it, run as fast as you can to the bookstore right now. You will never forget (no pun intended) Paul Cole. This is a unique piece of writing, unlike anything I’ve read of Don’s or anybody else. You can FEEL Cole, empathy is not the right word, you ARE Cole, as he battles his way through his affliction and his world. The emotion that Don creates is overwhelming, the tension as taut as a drum. If this isn’t “the existential attitude” then I don’t know what is. I do know this is great writing. Any info from Paul E. or anybody else about the creation of this novel (and why it was only published posthumously) would be of great value.

    p.s. Hard Case Crime is the publisher, and like so many of their books it is rife with typo’s, a common complaint.

  94. Here’s a couple of pieces of very good news: first, ‘Violent World of Parker’ is finally back in business:

    Missing for some time, I had all but given up on it ever returning… but it re-emerged as great as ever in December 2017. Essential reading for anyone who loves the Parker books, movies, and graphic novels.

    Second, the comic masterpiece that is ‘Help, I Am Being Held Prisoner’ is back in print for the first time in three decades! Hard Case Crime deserve a lot of credit for this one, because it was one obscure and hard-to-find book.

  95. I’ve read every Donald E book I could get my hands on. Fantastic! I’ve also seen The Hot Rock and Parker. Jason Statham was pretty good as Parker (accent notwithstanding). I’ve always had a problem with Robert Redford being Dortmunder. The picture I have of Dortmunder is Abe Vigoda (no longer with us).
    Never mind, every book could easily be made into a movie.

  96. My career as a faithful Westlake reader began in 1972 when my classmate Mendy Kaplowitz gave me The Hot Rock and sent me to see the movie with Robert Redford. Most professional writers like myself are dyed-in-the-wool Westlake fans.

    I would love to co-edit a book featuring a series of Dortmunder novelettes written by top writers of our time, Lawrence Block, Stephen King et al. I think Dortmunder fans the world over would be all over it…

    Jay D. Homnick

  97. I loved the Dortmunter books..is there any where I van purchase them? Would love to read them again. Your father was my favorite author, really miss his works

    1. Hi Pat,

      Most of the books are still available on Amazon.com. Every book page on this website has links to Amazon at the bottom. You can find multiple editions in many cases. Books that are out of print are harder to find and often more expensive but they are out there. A google search on the title you’re looking for will often produce results that include re-sellers with copies in stock. Abe Books has a pretty good collection. Check them out here. If you just can’t find a particular title for sale anywhere, drop a note here and I’ll see what I can do.


  98. A blu ray special edition of ‘THE HOT ROCK’ is now available in a very-limited edition from Twilight Time DVD. A pristine transfer of the movie, it also includes an audio commentary.

    Well worth checking this out, before it disappears. I wonder if Twilight Time, or some other specialist company, will soon get around to a special edition of ‘THE OUTFIT’; this classic movie is currently only available in a bare-bones version, and deserves better treatment.

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