Drowned Hopes, by Donald Westlake *****

drownedhopesA guy gets out of prison, and he goes to get the loot where he buried it. Unfortunately, he’s been gone quite awhile. A dam has been built and the water for a whole town is on top of it now. In order to get to it, he just may have to drown the whole town.

The protagonist is the guy he goes to see about it. Our protagonist, of course, is not a big-time hoodlum with a heart of flint. Westlake doesn’t write that way. No, our guy is callous, certainly; selfish, no doubt. But he does not have anywhere CLOSE to the hard-heartedness required to drown a whole town. And so it devolves upon him to find a way to get the loot, but not kill the town.

Good luck with that.

Funny as hell, but of course, in a slightly dark way, like all of Westlake’s comic capers.

I confess that when a really amazing writer dies, I feel the impulse to review their work to reduce the possibility that it will fade into obscurity. I discovered Westlake’s work about a year after he died. He wrote for fifty years; his Dortmunder series, of which this novel is the seventh, is where most of his funniest stories are found. This title is my favorite among them…and yes. I hunted down every one of them, and when I could not buy them second hand, I asked for them as Christmas and birthday gifts until I had sucked the entire series dry.

I hope you’ll enjoy them as much as I have.

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