Why Me? - Donald E. Westlake - ebook
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Dortmunder draws international attention when he steals the wrong ring The Byzantine Fire is much more than a ninety-carat ruby. As a stone it's worth over a million dollars, a value vastly increased by its pure gold band- but its history makes it priceless. A ring that has been fought for with sword and pen, and passed from nation to nation by all manner of theft and trickery, it finally made its way to the United States. The US has agreed to return it to Turkey, but it's about to be stolen twice more. A gang of Greeks armed with Sten guns burst into the security room at JFK Airport and escape with the priceless stone, which they deposit in the safe at a small jeweler's shop in Queens. A few hours later, unlucky thief John Dortmunder, expecting a routine robbery, steals it again. Much blood has been shed for this little ruby, and Dortmunder's could be next. Review quote: "A perfect formula thriller, only Westlake yanks the formula inside out!" - Newsweek "I found myself racing along with pleasure and gratitude." - New York Times "[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 Biographical note: Donald E. Westlake (1933-2008) was one of the most prolific and talented authors of American crime fiction. He began his career in the late 1950s, churning out novels for pulp houses- often writing as many as four novels a year under various pseudonyms- but soon began publishing under his own name. His most well known characters were John Dortmunder, an unlucky thief, and a ruthless criminal named Parker. His writing earned him three Edgars and a Grand Master Award from the Mystery Writers of America. Westlake's cinematic prose and brisk dialogue made his novels attractive to Hollywood, and several motion pictures were made from them, with stars such as Lee Marvin and Mel Gibson. Westlake wrote several screenplays himself, receiving an Academy Award nomination for his adaptation of The Grifters, Jim Thompson's noir classic.

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Contents

Cover

About the Book

About the Author

Title Page

Copyright Page

Dedication

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

13

14

15

16

17

18

19

20

21

22

23

24

25

26

27

28

29

30

31

32

33

34

35

36

37

38

39

40

41

42

43

44

45

46

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Cover

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About the Book

Dortmunder draws international attention when he steals the wrong ring

The Byzantine Fire is much more than a ninety-carat ruby. As a stone it’s worth over a million dollars, a value vastly increased by its pure gold band- but its history makes it priceless. A ring that has been fought for with sword and pen, and passed from nation to nation by all manner of theft and trickery, it finally made its way to the United States. The US has agreed to return it to Turkey, but it’s about to be stolen twice more.

A gang of Greeks armed with Sten guns burst into the security room at JFK Airport and escape with the priceless stone, which they deposit in the safe at a small jeweler’s shop in Queens. A few hours later, unlucky thief John Dortmunder, expecting a routine robbery, steals it again. Much blood has been shed for this little ruby, and Dortmunder’s could be next.

Review quote:

“A perfect formula thriller, only Westlake yanks the formula inside out!” - Newsweek

“I found myself racing along with pleasure and gratitude.” - New York Times

“[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

About the Author

Donald E. Westlake (1933–2008) was one of the most prolific and talented authors of American crime fiction. He began his career in the late 1950s, churning out novels for pulp houses- often writing as many as four novels a year under various pseudonyms- but soon began publishing under his own name. His most well-known characters were John Dortmunder, an unlucky thief, and a ruthless criminal named Parker. His writing earned him three Edgars and a Grand Master Award from the Mystery Writers of America.

Westlake’s cinematic prose and brisk dialogue made his novels attractive to Hollywood, and several motion pictures were made from his books, with stars such as Lee Marvin and Mel Gibson. Westlake wrote several screenplays himself, receiving an Academy Award nomination for his adaptation of The Grifters, Jim Thompson’s noir classic.

Why Me?

Donald E. Westlake

 

BASTEI ENTERTAINMENT

 

Bastei Entertainment is an imprint of Bastei Lübbe AG

 

Copyright © 2014 by Bastei Lübbe AG, Schanzenstraße 6-20, 51063 Cologne, Germany

 

For the original edition:

Copyright © 2011 by The Mysterious Press, LLC, 58 Warren Street, New York, NY. U.S.A.

 

Copyright © 1983 by Donald E. Westlake

 

Project management: Lori Herber

Cover adaptation: Christin Wilhelm, www.grafic4u.de

Cover design by Mumtaz Mustafa

 

E-book production: Jouve Germany GmbH & Co. KG

 

ISBN 978-3-95859-032-8

 

www.luebbe.de

www.bastei-entertainment.com

 

All rights reserved, including without limitation the right to reproduce this e-book or any portion thereof in any form or by any means, whether electronic or mechanical, now known or hereinafter invented, without the express written permission of the publisher.

 

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, businesses, companies, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

DEDICATION

I would like to dedicate this book as follows:

Chapter One is dedicated to Brian Garfield.

Chapter Five is dedicated to Abby Adams.

Chapter Seven is dedicated to Justin Scott.

Chapter Thirty-four is dedicated to Joan Rivers.

Chapter Thirty-five is dedicated to George Movshon.

Chapter Thirty-nine is dedicated to Pete Martin.

Chapter Forty-three is dedicated to Rich Barber.

And all the other Chapters are dedicated to You, dear reader, with my thanks.

 

They laugh that win.

 

—John Bartlett, Familiar Quotations

 

(attributed to W. Shakespeare)

1

“Hello,” said the telephone cheerfully into Dortmunder’s ear, “this is Andy Kelp.”

“This is Dort—” Dortmunder started to say, but the telephone was still talking in his ear. It was saying:

“I’m not home right now, but—”

“Andy? Hello?”

“—you can leave a message on this recording machine—”

“It’s John, Andy. John Dortmunder.”

“—and I’ll call you back just as soon as I can.”

“Andy! Hey! Can you hear me?”

“Leave your message right after you hear the beep. And do have a nice day.”

Dortmunder held both hands cupped around the mouthpiece of the phone and roared down its throat: “HELLO!”

“eeeepp”

Dortmunder recoiled from the phone as though it were just about to explode, which he half expected it would. Holding the receiver at arm’s length, he watched it mistrustfully for a few seconds, then slowly brought it closer and bent his ear to the earpiece. Silence. A long, hollow, sort of unreeling kind of silence. Dortmunder listened, and then there was a faint click, and then the silence changed, becoming furry, empty, and pointless. Knowing he was all alone, Dortmunder nevertheless asked, “Hello?” The furry silence went on. Dortmunder hung up the phone, went out to the kitchen, had a glass of milk, and thought it over.

May was out to the movies, so there was no one to discuss this situation with, but on reflection it seemed to Dortmunder pretty clear what had happened. Andy Kelp had got himself a machine to answer the telephone. The question was, why would he do such a thing? Dortmunder cut a slice of Sara Lee cheese danish, chewed it, mulled this question, drank his milk, and at last decided you just could never figure out why Kelp did the things he did. Dortmunder had never talked to a machine before—except for an occasional rude remark at a car that refused to start on a cold morning—but okay; if he was going to continue to know Andy Kelp, he would apparently have to learn to talk to machines. And he might just as well start now.

Leaving the glass in the sink, Dortmunder went back to the living room and dialed Kelp’s number again, and this time he didn’t start talking until the machine was finished saying, “Hello, this is Andy Kelp. I’m not home right now, but you can leave a message on this recording machine and I’ll call you back just as soon as I can. Leave your message right after you hear the beep. And do have a nice day.”

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!