Erasmus finished Donald E. Westlake's latest opus in the ongoing chronicles of John Archibald Dortmunder and his cohort, The Road to Ruin. The core regulars are back: Andrew Octavian Kelp, Stan Murch, Tiny Bulcher. And Andy's squeeze, Anne-Marie, takes on a slightly more prominent role.
The Road to Ruin is a thoroughly enjoyable read, as Erasmus has come to expect from Westlake, a true professional, craftsman, and artist. It revolves around a slow-developing scheme of Dortmunder, et alii, to heist some classic cars from the isolated estate of a disgraced, pariah CEO. Complications develop, as they always do. Erasmus has two criticisms and hereby warns potential readers to stop reading after the first if they don't care to have a sigificant element of the plot given away.
Erasmus was saddened by the Mysterious Press's or Westlake's failure to simply pick up a copy of his wonderful Don't Ask and check the spelling of Tiny Bulcher's family's homeland. It is, of course, Votskojek, which, alas, is consistently misspelled Vostkojek throughout The Road to Ruin.
The second criticism revolves around some plot developments of which a potential reader should likely remain ignorant. For you all, don't worry, pick it up. Overall, placet. Now go away.
Really. Shoo. Hie thee to Strong Badia.
Ok, if you're still with Erasmus, be warned that the odd thing about The Road to Ruin is that it's a caper novel without a caper. The complications which ensue completely wreck Dortmunder's plan, and there's no back-up plan or consolation prize either. A good plan fails for no reason but crazy circumstance. While realistic, readers' expectations may be let down. On a similar note, Dortmunder, sounding a little bit like his dark shadow, Parker, forcefully swears revenge on some people at the end of a chapter... and it never comes up again. Bad guys get their comeuppances but at the hand of fate, rather than a Dortmunderian nemesis. Once again, with such loose ends dangling, one isn't as satisfied as one could be.