Book Review of Drowned Hopes

Drowned Hopes
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This has to be one of the most enjoyable novels that I've read in quite some time. I've read a few other crime novels by Westlake but this is the first Dortmunder story for me -- it won't be the last!

From wikipedia:
Donald Edwin Westlake (July 12, 1933 â December 31, 2008) was an American writer, with over a hundred novels and non-fiction books to his credit. He specialized in crime fiction, especially comic capers, with an occasional foray into science fiction and other genres. Westlake is perhaps best-remembered for creating two professional criminal characters who each starred in a long-running series: the relentless, hard-boiled Parker (published under the pen name Richard Stark), and John Dortmunder who featured in a more humorous series.

He was a three-time Edgar Award winner, and alongside Joe Gores and William L. DeAndrea was one of few writers to win Edgars in three different categories (1968, Best Novel, God Save the Mark; 1990, Best Short Story, "Too Many Crooks"; 1991, Best Motion Picture Screenplay, The Grifters). In 1993, the Mystery Writers of America named Westlake a Grand Master, the highest honor bestowed by the society.


Drowned Hopes is one of Westlake's very humorous and laid back novels. From the hardcover book flap: Arriving home at dawn after another failed burglary, Dortmunder is horrified to find his apartment occupied by an old cellmate everyone supposed (and hoped) had been in for life.
Tom Jimson needs Dortmunder's help. Nearly thirty years ago, before his last prison stretch, Tom pulled a big job up near Albany. A very big job. His partners ran into some "trouble," and Tom was left with the entire $700,000. The money was buried in a small, upstate valley town. And while Tom sat in jail, the state of New York turned the valley into a reservoir. The stash is now under three feet of dirt and fifty feet of water.
Being the nasty sort of fellow he is, Tom's plan is to blow up the dam, flood the surrounding countryside, and grab the cash.
With the fate of nine hundred small-town nobodies hanging in the balance, it falls to Dortmunder to formulate an alternate plan for retrieving the loot. Aided by Andy Kelp, Stan Murch, Tiny Bulcher, and eccentric computer genius Wally Knurr (whose initial suggestion is to burn off the water with a huge laser), Dortmunder takes the plunge. And fails.
This, of course, necessitates a second attempt...and another...and another. But as each successive plan fails, Tom's dynamite finger gets itchier...and itchier.


This story was long at over 400 pages but it was fun and kept your interest at a very high level. Dortmunder and his crew of hapless crooks are priceless and I will definitely be seeking out more in this series. High recommendation overall for this one!