Donald Westlake is back with yet another gem of a novel to add to an already sparkling series of Dortmunder crime caper novels. This time, an angry ex-con/ex-chauffeur convinces Dortmunder and his fellow thieves to take interest in the supremely well-guarded estate of a disgraced multi-billionaire whose collection includes some priceless antique cars.
Monroe Hall, the aforementioned rich guy, is even more despised than the head of Enron, while being all the more richer. Hall’s tired of being a "pariah", but with his penchant for alienating and swindling people, his collection of enemies is on the increase while the number of servants on his sprawling, priceless collections-laden Pennsylvania estate is on the decrease. So, apart from Dortmunder and Co., there are various other people -- including disgruntled venture capitalists and outraged union workers -- who want to get their hands on Hall and squeeze their money out of him. Unfortunately, Hall doesn’t come outside his unimpeachable security fortress, and only a select few can get in.
Independently the con artists as well as the unhappy people cheated by Monroe work toward making plots and plans, without the slightest hint of realization that similar yet opposing forces are also at work towards the same goal. The readers, who’re privy to all the various shenanigans being plotted, have a rollicking time as they see the larger picture developing and gleefully anticipate the fun and mayhem which then ensues.
Where Dortmunder gets involved, there is sure to be laughter and mix-ups, and the fans of this series will not be disappointed. Westlake’s true genius lies in engagingly showing the various characters in all their criminal glories and luring the readers into rooting for them despite realizing their unlawful intentions. Identities are switched, mistakes made, mishaps occur, plots are made and ultimately carried out. But the resulting comical pandemonium far exceeds expectations, and the ending, while not exactly unanticipated, still manages to deliver a mighty punch. The rush of exhilaration this novel induces is extremely addictive and guaranteed to secure Donald E. Westlake and his Dortmunder novels a flood of new readers.