Westlake has created a group of men who exist on their wits and live every day looking out for the next scam that will make them the fortune they crave. When Dormunder is blackmailed into taking on a commission to gain access to a jewelled chess set, the reader soon gets the sense that everything is certainly not going to slot into place too easily. The author has created a group of characters who are very appealing, despite the fact that they err on the wrong side of the law. Take Dortmunder’s partner in crime, Andy Kelp, who likes to go out shopping - but not the way we know it. Kelp comes back wearing two suits and several overcoats, all of which will be sold on for cash. What this team gets up to leaves you breathless at its audacity.
Westlake has written a sassy, amusing and involving novel in What’s So Funny? There is no body and no gore. What you do get is a witty, thrilling novel of five guys who are going to steal a chess set that many people covet. From there, Westlake takes you on an incredible adventure. The reader follows the plans the guys make and the unknown elements that seems to thwart them at every step. The writing is slick – in the best sense - whilst the observations are fresh and spot on. Despite initially not being sure about the title, this is a book I read in a day and simply couldn’t put down. I will certainly be waiting with baited breath to read the next instalment featuring John Dortmunder and his motley crew.