Bank Shot is second in the Donald E. Westlake Memorial Dortmunder re-read. This is the one in which they steal a bank. Not rob a bank, steal a bank.
(It’s in a trailer while the usual building is under construction.)
This was the first one I read: Chad and I were in the cavernous warehouse branch of Second Story Books in the D.C. area, back in 1998, and he came up to me with a copy and said, “You have to read this.” “I do?” “You do.”
And I did. And the rest was history.
Obviously, this worked well as a starting point for me, but on this re-read, I found myself again cataloguing the ways it is and isn’t like the series as it became firmly established. It’s the first book with May, Dortmunder’s faithful companion, for instance, and the first time there’s a (semi-)absurd overheard conversation at the O.J. Bar and Grill—but those having the conversation aren’t identified as the regulars yet. There’s no Max yet, and for possibly the only time we see a financier outside the gang, and May and Murch’s Mom have a more active role than usual.
Only two other things of note: there’s a character named Herman X who appears to be a semi-parody of a very specific type of Black radical. Since I don’t have the context, I can’t say whether I thought the portrayal was reasonable, but it made me twitch a little pre-emptively. (Herman is a person as all Westlake’s characters are people; it’s the political components that I wonder about. Also, they probably make the book more dated than others.) And second, I really like the way the tension and absurdity of this escalates. It’s not as over-the-top as The Hot Rock, but it’s still a lot of fun.