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Too Many Crooks by Donald Edwin Westlake Critical Essay

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Updated: Jul 3rd, 2019

Donald Edwin Westlake is the author of Too Many Crooks. He was born on July 12, 1933. He is an American credited with having authored more than one hundred novels as well as other non-fiction books. He particularly focused on writing about crime fiction such as comic tales as well as not so regular science fiction. He is also remembered as having won Edgar Awards three times in a row in history.

It is important to observe that he was one among only three other authors to have attained such a feat. The three categories he received awards were for the best novel in 1968 titled, God Save the Mark, best short story in 1990 titled Too Many Crooks, and for best motion picture screenplay production known as the Grifters which was released in 1993.

Donald Edwin Westlake grew up in Albany, New York. However, his place of birth was Brooklyn, New York. He loved writing so much while as a teenager. However, his debut in writing was not smooth sailing as many would have expected of his prolific career. His pieces were rejected 200 times.

However, he was lucky in 1954 with the sale of his first ever short tale. After this, he wrote many more short stories which he sold for the next few years as a college student at Champlain and Harpur colleges. Mr. Westlake later died from a terrible heart attack on 31st December, 2008.

It is true that a number of novels which were written by Donald Westlake have been transformed into motion pictures. They include Point Blank, The Hunter, The Split, The Hot Rock, Cops and Robbers, The Outfit, Bank Shot, The Busy Body, Slay Ground, Why Me, Payback, and many others.

Many more other clips of his novels which have been filmed can be found as well as visuals in many libraries in the entire world. He attained a feat that has hardly been attained by many other novelists and renowned authors before. Mystery stories have an intricate plot (Hillerman, 2008). This story is a mystery one too.

There is no need for any previous knowledge since this story is one among the Dortmunder series talking of a titular thief. Dortmunder remains a constant straight person in a world where regardless of how well he organizes many of his heists, one or two things have to go haywire to a point he thinks he is very lucky if he successfully organizes a heist without getting caught.

No hidden themes can be noticed as one reads through the story as the tale is majorly an entertaining one. In this plot for instance, Dortmunder and Kelp believe that they are lucky to have identified a nice scheme. Kelp has discovered the presence of a big sewer tunnel which is erected near a certain bank. Truly, after scrutinizing the blueprints that they can find thoroughly, they learn that one among the walls of the tunnel is erected right where the vault of the bank is situated.

All that the two are required to do now is enter through the sewer, at a location very distant from the bank itself where no one can even suspect, make their way through the walls of the bank and they will reap easy money. They decide to do so at 6pm after the bank has closed down for the day.

However, it cannot be termed as one of the Dortmunder tales if everything transpires so well. They hence get into the tunnel and break the vaults wall. Then the worst surprise befalls them. The author writes, “What? Hesitant but not able to contain himself, Dortmunder let go the sledge and flashlight and pushed his head into the hole they had made through the wall and looked all over the place.

Indeed, it was the vault. And it was full of people” (Westlake, 1989). It dawns on the reader that a different gang had resorted to robbing that very bank and held all the people in the bank as hostages within that vault some hours earlier. As it turns out, everybody believes that Dortmunder is working for the police and wants to rescue them.

Events turn out rather badly and he happens to become a hostage picked upon by the robbers who came earlier to negotiate with the police. However, the robbers fail to notice that hole in the vault that was dug by Dortmunder. By this time, their plan has totally backfired and there are chances of Dortmunder either getting shot or identified by the police if he is rescued.

Still, he can convince the robbers of an escape plan for all of them. The continuing mystery in the story remains quite exciting. The above synopsis aptly fits the analysis for this genre as it shows the intrigues, twists, and turns that are involved in coming up with mystery stories.

Dortmunder as the main character can best be described as a person with a constant shamefaced appearance. Even the pettiest issues have to go absurdly wrong. When asked by people in the vault what his name is, he totally goes blank and mumbles inaudibly. This is because he never planned on meeting anyone in the vault.

References

Hillerman, P. (2008). Best American Mystery Stories of the Century. New York: Sage Publications.

Westlake, D. (1989). Too Many Crooks. New York: The Mysterious Press.

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1. IvyPanda. "Too Many Crooks by Donald Edwin Westlake." July 3, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/too-many-crooks-by-donald-edwin-westlake/.


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IvyPanda. "Too Many Crooks by Donald Edwin Westlake." July 3, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/too-many-crooks-by-donald-edwin-westlake/.

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IvyPanda. 2019. "Too Many Crooks by Donald Edwin Westlake." July 3, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/too-many-crooks-by-donald-edwin-westlake/.

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IvyPanda. (2019) 'Too Many Crooks by Donald Edwin Westlake'. 3 July.

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