Those who have been dying to see Dortmunder's shorts finally have their chance. For the first time, a collection of stories featuring hapless thief John Dortmunder has been assembled into a single volume.

Included in these 12 stories is one featuring a different cast of characters and an introduction in which Westlake reveals the genesis of Dortmunder and these stories. In short form he retains all the qualities that make his novels so entertaining. Dortmunder quickly ends up in comic dire straits that would send an ordinary thief to the slammer. But with his quick thinking and ingenuity, he's as slippery as an eel when it comes to the law. He's also acting in an unusual role, that of sleuth, after he's accused of a theft he didn't commit, a rare occurrence indeed.

For pure fun, Westlake can't be beat. He's a storyteller and writer beyond compare, and Dortmunder is one of the premier characters in comic crime. This volume is long on grins for fans. (May, 208 pp., $12.95)
Reviewed by: 
Jo Peters