Author: Donald E. Westlake
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
ISBN: 978-0-446-17860-0

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To quote reality show producer Doug Fairkeep, “Reality is escapist entertainment at its most pure and mindless.”

Get Real—likely to be the final Dortmunder novel unless some other writer attempts to imitate the late Donald E. Westlake and continue the series—is escapist entertainment of topnotch quality. It’s a cops and robbers caper without any cops to speak of.

Dour John Dortmudder and his crew of misfits—Andy Kelp, Tiny, Stan Munch, Judson Blint—are hired by the Get Real company to be the subjects of a reality show that will follow and record the gang’s activity as they plan and execute a heist.

Skeptically, despite assurances that they will be protected from prosecution by shrewd applications of convoluted contract law, Dortmunder and the boys sign on for the show but are ill at ease until they develop a comforting side caper of their own—kind of a masked crime within a revealing crime show. The plan is to really steal from the business from which they appear to be stealing.

Got that?

Readers of Westlake’s Dortmunder novels will not be disappointed by Get Real. While developing the intricate details of a plot filled with the expected blunders of the gang of career thieves who never expect things to go wrong, Westlake manages to side-step the main action and present humorous social commentary.

He ridicules reality television. Babe Turk, once a foreign news correspondent, who has had “enough of the real world,” wants to transfer to Get Real, “to retire to reality.”

As if they are some latter day Greet chorus, Westlake has the regulars at OJ’s bar, in whose back room Dortmunder and crew plot their capers, comment unwittingly satirically on the “wonders” of the Internet, of computers. To paraphrase one of the regulars’ denigrating remarks regarding computers: “It computes, therefore it’s an adding machine.”

And for plain ol’ fun, Westlake has created an hilarious scene in which barkeep Rollo eventually spells lasagna correctly after a phone call to the Knights of Columbus.

John Dortmunder has been entertaining readers since he first appear in Westlake’s The Hot Rock in 1970. Like his creator, like his fans, he has aged, adapted to the times—kinda—but still exhibits trace characteristics of his former affable self: he still has a dial phone at home.

It’s a sad day when a popular writer dies. Sadder still—and I’m sure the deceased author would agree—is that often his characters die with him. Dortmunder’s story ends on the final pages of Get Real, but his memories remain in Westlake’s earlier novels.

Readers might like to turn back the pages, so to speak.

Click Here To Purchase Get Real