Rest In Peace, Donald Westlake

July 12, 1933 – December 31, 2008

Obituaries and Tributes

Thank you.

Thank you.


I have just received word that Donald Westlake died on December 31st, 2008, of a heart attack. He was 75.

This is a bit overwhelming. When someone has been around for your entire life, it is natural (for me, anyway) to just assume he will always be there.  This was a punch in the gut.

I never spoke to Donald Westlake, but we did exchange a letter and a couple of e-mails. I have lost the letter he sent to me, something that has bothered me since I realized it was gone. Fortunately, e-mail isn’t bound by the physical, so I still have those. From every indication in the handful of exchanges we had, he was an absolute gentleman. (He discovered that there was a second film version of Jimmy the Kid through this site!)

There will be many obituaries and tributes written in the coming weeks. I will try to link to the best of them.

With somewhere near one hundred books published, it is stating the obvious to say that Donald Westlake loved writing. His entire life was a gift to those of us who love reading.

Farewell, Grandmaster.

New York Times: Donald E. Westlake, Mystery Writer, Is Dead at 75

The (UK) Independent: Donald E. Westlake: Prolific writer of mysteries and thrillers whose screenplay for ‘The Grifters’ was Oscar nominated

Telegraph (UK): Prolific mystery writer who was lauded for his mastery of ‘the comic caper’.

Daily Mail: Westlake did not call P.D. James a dimwit.

San Francisco Chronicle: Rocchi’s Retro Rental: Donald Westlake, 1933-2008 (a column on Westlake and Point Blank)

Guardian (UK): A nice slideshow of shots from films based on or written by Westlake.

Ain’t It Cool News: Vern Eulogizes the Great Donald Westlake

NOLA.com: R.I.P. Richard Stark

Arkansas Times: John Dortmunder, R.I.P.

Arts Journal: Terry Teachout’s Westlake obituary

Do The Math: Ethan Iverson of the band The Bad Plus has a huge tribute, covering dozens of books.  You’ll want to check this out.

Sarah Weinman has a big roundup of tributes.  Her LA Times obit is here.

Charles Ardai, publisher of the great Hard Case Crime imprint: “It hurts like hell that he’s gone.”

NPR’s Fresh Air: “Hard Boiled to the End.”  Includes portions of radio interviews with Westlake from the show.

L.A. Times: “Hollywood Rarely Did Donald Westlake Justice.”

William Kristol, Westlakean: “Donald E. Westlake, 1933-2008

Wall Street Journal: Otto Penzler of the Myserious Bookshop memorializes Donald Westlake.

The Guardian (UK): Stephen Frears discusses working with Westlake on the screenplay for The Grifters.

Crime novelist Wallace Stroby: “Donald E. Westlake, 1933-2008

Mark Finn at The Cimmerian: “Rest in Peace, Donald Westlake

Duane Swierczynski: “Donald Westlake (a.k.a. Richard Stark) 1933-2008

The Rap Sheet: “Nobody Runs Forever.”  Part one and two. Max Allan Collins remembers Westlake here.