My favorite mystery writer died suddenly yesterday. Donald E. Westlake, creator of the humorous crime series featuring the very talented (but equally very unlucky) burglar "Dortmunder," apparently had a heart attack while on vacation in Mexico.
I love his books. I'm reading one of his more recent books now, Put a Lid On It. Though he wrote a lot of comic crime novels, he was just as good at writing serious ones. He wrote another series of books about a totally "hard-boiled" criminal, Parker--though Westlake used the non de plume "Richard Stark" for those. And that wasn't the only pseudonym he used.
I heard him speak a couple of times, and he autographed a few of my books after one talk. I remember him being asked how he felt when a successful book of his was made into a not-so-successful movie. He said he thought of them as he did his children--he raised them as well as he could to adulthood, and then wished them luck and sent them out to succeed or fail on their own.
He wrote more than a hundred books in all (using manual typewriters!), and I'm not sure I've read even half of them--so there will be plenty of Westlake in my future. And there is one more scheduled to be published this year. Still, it's sad he has died. He was only 75.
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