The Hot Rock - first in the 'Dortmunder' series by Donald Westlake
John Dortmunder leaves jail with ten dollars, a train ticket, and nothing to make money on but his good name. Thankfully, his reputation goes far. No one plans a caper better than Dortmunder. His friend Kelp picks him up in a stolen Cadillac and drives him away from Sing-Sing, telling a story of a $500,000 emerald that they just have to steal. Dortmunder doesn’t hesitate to agree.
The emerald is the crown jewel of a former British colony, lately granted independence and split into two nations: one for the Talabwo people, one for the Akinzi. The Akinzi have the stone, the Talabwo want it back, and their UN representative offers a fine payday to the men who can get it. It’s not a simple heist, but after a few years in stir, Dortmunder could use the challenge.
This first Dortmunder novel was the inspiration for the 1972 film of the same name, starring Robert Redford as Dortmunder. One of many actors to play the role, Westlake would later state that Redford was his favourite.
Praise for The Hot Rock
“Westlake’s novel comes awesomely close to the ultimate in comic, big-caper novels; it’s so filled with action and imagination.”
– The New York Times Book Review
“Westlake is a master hand at the running gag, this Westlake brought on such a case of the laughing bends that I required decompression.”
– The Washington Post
“[Westlake’s] most durable character. Whatever can go wrong in the man’s elaborate attempts at larceny invariably does, and in the most amusing and unexpected ways possible.”
– Los Angeles Times