Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Get Real - Donald E Westlake

Read between June 12th 2020 and June 14th 2020

Edition Details:
Format : Paperback
Publisher: Quercus Books
Page Count: 278
ISBN:: 9781849161077

Get Real - Donald E Westlake
Get Real - Donald E Westlake


First Sentence:
Dortmunder did not like to stand around on street corner

Story:
When Dough Fairkeep, a televison producer for a company called Get Real, told John Dortmunder that he wanted him and his partners to star in his reality series, John thought he had gone mad. 

Which criminal would want to get filmed while committing a crime? 

But then Dough explained him the whole situation and made Dortmunder believe that they could pull this off. 

Now Dortmunder and his team are working on a reality series. The pay seems good and there is very less chance of them going to the jail. 

Also, they have their own agenda. Dortmunder believes he could turn this enterprise into a profitable one in more ways than one.

What had Dortmunder planned? 
Would they succeed this time?
Major Characters:
John Dortmunder : A master thief
Stan Murch - John's associate whom he used to employ in his heist as get away driver
Doug Fairkeep - A television producer at Get Real, the company which made reality shows
Marcy Waldorf - A production assistant assigned to Dough Fairkeep
Andy Kelp - Another Guy that was in Dortmunder's team who was also a thief
My Nephew - a discount store owner who used to deal in stolen goods
May - Dortmunder's girlfriend
Babe Tuck - Doug Fairkeep's boss
Lueen - Babe's secretary
Judson Blint aka The Kid- A nineteen year old guy who did mail order frauds and was Dortmunder's partner in crime
Rollo - bartender at OJ Bar and Grill where Dortmunder and his associates used to hand out
Tiny - Another associated of John Dortmunder
Roy Ombelen - Director of the show
Manny Felder - Designer of the show
Darlene Looper- An actress that was supposed to be in the show
Ray Harbach - the actor who Babe has assigned to be included in the show

My Views:
Get Real is the 15th and last novel of Dortmunder series that was written by Donald E Westlake. 

Dortmunder, if you don't know is a professional thief, who more often than not has been very unlucky in his professional enterprises. He plans every thing perfectly but at the last moment because of his bad luck he ends up getting more than what he can chew and this leads to some very comedic(tragic for him and his crew) situations.

This is second book featuring this character that i have read. I had read the last book Watch your back in 2016 and since then i have read few Westlakes but couldn't come back to reading this character. It had been so long that i had forgotten all about Dortmunder and reading this novel was like as if i was meeting the character for the first time.

Get Real is a novel that Westlake has woven around reality television. The story is about how a guy tries to rope in Dortmunder and his crew to participate in a reality TV and how this turns out to be for both the parties. Since it's based on reality television the reader is taken to that world and is given a glimpse of how that world works. What is reality for that kind of TV is and how that reality is manufactured was fun to see. 

I liked Dortmunder's character and it was good to meet him after such a long interval. He's quiet, always looks sad and people who don't know him may see him as a sidekick but then things happen and you see what he really is and he know how to take charge of the situation. i think he's an introvert and that too is one of the reasons that i like him. I do hope that this character lives on and another writer starts writing it. 

His rest of the crew is as interesting as he is. Tiny,Andy,Stan are characters that can have short stories or books dedicated to them but if have to pick my favourite i would pick Judson Blint aka the Kid. He's the youngest of the crew but has more brains then them all. I would have loved to read the a novel featuring only him. 

That was the annoying thing about the kid, who was otherwise okay. Every once in a while, he'd get it before anybody else got it, and when he got it, he got it.

I also like the equation between Stan and his mother. I really enjoyed reading parts which had both of them in them.  

I have other books featuring Dortmunder. I'll try to read them soon.

I liked the premise of the book. I found it to be an above average book. There are parts of it that are good and i absolutely loved reading them but they are interspersed in between dull moments. I think this was because the writer was trying to focus on two different things. There was reality tv and then there was the caper featuring Dortmunder. Now as a reader i was more interested in the caper part but the world of reality TV and characters associated with it were given more time. This was interesting up to a certain limit but after that it went on becoming boring. There would be readers who would like the way the novel is arranged but for me i think there are parts which should have been edited to either make them shorter or they should have been removed. This would have made the story taut, would have increased it's pace and hence made the story much more entertaining.

If you like Dortmunder and haven't read this one then you can give it a try. But, if you haven't read Dortmunder books than i would just say that it would be better if you'd start with another one in the series.

Some lines from the book that i liked:

"When you are committing a felony," Dortmunder pointed out, "the idea is, you don't want witnesses. What you want is privacy. And you especially don't want the entire television-watching population of America for a witness."

Stan, who had taken the card from his mother's fingers to study it, said, "Well, John, the guy does look legitimate."

"Of course he's legitimate," Dortmunder said. "We are the ones that aren't."
(page 6)

"Every big company that does business in different countries," the kid said, "bribes the locals when they want to come do business...."
" I have heard about this,"Kelp said. "There's a word everybody uses, it's chai, it means 'tea,' you sit down together, you have a cuppa tea, you move the envelope."
(page 52)

Marcy: "He comes out to his family.They don't know what to do, what to think, & they finally decide blood is thicker than prejudice, and they'll stand by him. Everyone learns a wonderful lesson in tolerance."
Doug: "No"
Marcy: "Doug,it could be very real"
Doug: "But it couldn't be reality,Marcy, reality shows do not solve society's problems. They don't even consider society's problems. Reality is escapist entertainment at its most pure and mindless"(page 80)

"Money from wages," Dortmunder said, "is not the same as the same money from theft. Money from theft is purer. There's no indentured servitude on it, no knuckling under to whatever anybody else wants, no obedience. It isn't yours because you swapped it for your own time and work, it's yours because you took it." (page 192)


Rating: 2.5/5

You can get the book from the following link:

Other books by Donald E Westlake that i have read:

Other crime fiction that i have read:

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