Saturday, December 16, 2006

"Fugue for Felons" by Donald E. Westlake

From: Thieves' Dozen by Donald E. Westlake, Mysterious Press, 2004.

Westlake prefaces this final entry in his collection of Dortmunder tales by recounting a time circa 1997 when he had to face the possibility of losing rights to the name "Dortmunder" to Hollywood. During this time, he came up with an alias for Dortmunder, "John Rumsey."

Westlake wound up retaining the rights to his character but found he couldn't simply go back what he'd written and replace the "Rumseys" with "Dortmunders." Rumsey and his friend Algy were too different in his mind from Dortmunder and Andy Kelp.

In "Fugue for Felons," Rumsey and three members of his crew separately read the Daily News account of a bank robbery aborted when the robber's car crashed through the bank. Rumsey and the others each decide to drop by the bank and see what might be scavenged.

As usual for Westlake's lighter mood, the story progresses like a well-told anecdote, becoming more hilarious with each obstacle the thieves encounter.

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