DONALD E. WESTLAKE – Why Me. John Dortmunder #5. Viking, hardcover, 1983. Tor, paperback, April 1985. Film: Epic, 1990, as Why Me? (with Christopher Lambert as “Gus Cardinale”).

   Professional burglar John Dortmunder’s life has never been easy — in fact, most of the people who know hm well think of him as a jinx — and it gets even worse in this book, in which he accidentally heists the Byzantine Fire, only the wold’s most valuable ruby.

   On his neck immediately are the police, the FBI, the entire underworld (tired of being endlessly hassled by the police and the FBI) and skads of very religious assassination fanatics, in what becomes a major international affair. When he’s on his game, as he is here, Westlake can exhibit a sour, sarcastic view of the world with the best of them, and the book is simply hilarious all the way through.

— Reprinted from Mystery*File #23,, July 1990 (very slightly revised).