Start reading The Hot Rock: A Dortmunder Novel (Book One) on the free Kindle Reading App or on your Kindle in under a minute. Don't have a Kindle? Get your Kindle here.
Read and Listen for Free
with Kindle Unlimited

Deliver to your Kindle or other device

Add Audible Narration
The Hot Rock: The First Dortmunder Novel Narrated by Jeff Woodman $17.95 $3.95
Enter a promotion code
or gift card

Try it free

Sample the beginning of this book for free

Deliver to your Kindle or other device

Anybody can read Kindle books—even without a Kindle device—with the FREE Kindle app for smartphones, tablets and computers.
Sorry, this item is not available in
Image not available for
Image not available

The Hot Rock: A Dortmunder Novel (Book One) (The Dortmunder Novels 1) [Kindle Edition]

Donald E Westlake
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (171 customer reviews)

Digital List Price: $9.99 What's this?
Print List Price: $14.00
Kindle Price: $7.99
You Save: $6.01 (43%)
Kindle Unlimited with narration
Read and listen to this title for free and get unlimited access to over 700,000 titles. Learn More

If you buy a new print edition of this book (or purchased one in the past), you can buy the Kindle edition for only $1.99 (Save 75%). Print edition purchase must be sold by Amazon. Learn more.

Audible Narration

Switch back and forth between reading the Kindle book and listening to the Audible narration with Whispersync for Voice. Add narration for a reduced price of $3.95 when you buy the Kindle book.


Amazon Price New from Used from
Kindle Edition $7.99  
Hardcover --  
Paperback $11.71  
Audible Audio Edition, Unabridged $0.00 Free with Audible trial
Mass Market Paperback --  
Audio, Cassette, Audiobook, Unabridged --  
Solitude Creek by Jeffery Deaver
Solitude Creek by Jeffery Deaver
What happens when someone heedlessly and needlessly strikes terror into a herd of people? Kathryn Dance attempts to track down the perpetrator before he strikes again. Learn more | See similar books

Book Description

Fresh out of prison, Dortmunder plans a heist that could mean war

John Dortmunder leaves jail with ten dollars, a train ticket, and nothing to make money on but his good name. Thankfully, his reputation goes far. No one plans a caper better than Dortmunder. His friend Kelp picks him up in a stolen Cadillac and drives him away from Sing-Sing, telling a story of a $500,000 emerald that they just have to steal. Dortmunder doesn’t hesitate to agree.
The emerald is the crown jewel of a former British colony, lately granted independence and split into two nations: one for the Talabwo people, one for the Akinzi. The Akinzi have the stone, the Talabwo want it back, and their UN representative offers a fine payday to the men who can get it. It’s not a simple heist, but after a few years in stir, Dortmunder could use the challenge.

Editorial Reviews


“Westlake’s novel comes awesomely close to the ultimate in comic, big-caper novels; it’s so filled with action and imagination.” —The New York Times Book Review
“Westlake is a master hand at the running gag this Westlake brought on such a case of the laughing bends that I required decompression.” —The Washington Post
“[Westlake’s] most durable character. Whatever can go wrong in the man’s elaborate attempts at larceny invariably does, and in the most amusing and unexpected ways possible.” —Los Angeles Times

About the Author

Donald E. Westlake (1933–2008) was one of the most prolific and talented authors of American crime fiction. He began his career in the late 1950s, churning out novels for pulp houses—often writing as many as four novels a year under various pseudonyms—but soon began publishing under his own name. His most well-known characters were John Dortmunder, an unlucky thief, and a ruthless criminal named Parker. His writing earned him three Edgars and a Grand Master Award from the Mystery Writers of America.
Westlake’s cinematic prose and brisk dialogue made his novels attractive to Hollywood, and several motion pictures were made from his books, with stars such as Lee Marvin and Mel Gibson. Westlake wrote several screenplays himself, receiving an Academy Award nomination for his adaptation of The Grifters, Jim Thompson’s noir classic.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1094 KB
  • Print Length: 306 pages
  • Publisher: Road (October 25, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005UK7TVS
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #61,599 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
  •  Would you like to give feedback on images?

Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
4.1 out of 5 stars
Share your thoughts with other customers
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
78 of 79 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars What a gem! August 8, 2001
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Within a few hours of being released on parole, John Dortmunder, a small-time thief and con artist is embroiled in a new caper. He has been commissioned to steal a valuable emerald for a newly-formed small African nation. John handpicks the men who will assist him in this heist, each of whom brings their special skills to the job at hand and their off-center behavioral traits. This is not exactly your gang that couldn't shoot straight. Rather, these misfits just seem to be the victims of events often beyond their control. No matter how much inventive planning goes into each robbery, they never seem to walk away with the prize. It is constantly back to the drawing board for Dortmunder and each robbery calls for more innovative and daring methods.
At times, the dialogue reads like the old "who's on first, what's on second" routine made famous by Abbott and Costello. At other times, the humor is much more subtle. Either way, you will find yourself chuckling or, if you are in the safety of your own home, laughing out loud.
Living in New York, I was amazed at how well Mr. Westlake knows the city and the outer boroughs. Having grown up in a rather obscure part of one of these boroughs, I think that unbeknownst to me, Mr. Westlake must have lived next door to me. He can describe stores and houses on the smallest side street with pinpoint accuracy.
This is not the type of book that I would normally seek out. However, I had recently read a short story by Mr. Westlake that caught my fancy. I liked the style of writing so much that I decided to try one of his books.
If you like a well written action caper that will have you laughing throughout, I suggest you pick up a copy of "The Hot Rock." As for me, I am going to order the next few books in the Dortmunder series as soon as I submit this review.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
37 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Perfect Start to the Perfect Series April 25, 2001
By Ivy
If you haven't devoured the whole Dortmunder series by now, wait no longer: start with this one, and as soon as your stomach muscles recover, move on to the rest. This is the kickoff to the funniest mystery series ever written.
Our hero is Dortmunder, a very recent ex-con. His opponent is the Balabomo Emerald, a gem with a history, a price on its head, and, apparently, a nasty sense of humor. Hired by the representative of an African nation that wants the jewel for religious and political reasons, Dortmunder assembles a team of the finest, funniest men ever to make a dishonest dollar. They make attempt after attempt (as the blurb says, giving new meaning to the term repeat offender) at the job, striking by helicopter, train, and mesmerism, among others. Any one of the plans should succeed. But fate - or the emerald - has other ideas.
The plot is only part of the humor, though. In a way, the Dortmunder series is very like Terry Pratchett's Discworld series; they both rely on language and character as much as situations for laughs, and they both get incredible results from the strategy.
Seriously, this book (and the series it spawned) is a better antidepressant than any pharmaceutical I've ever encountered. If you're just now starting here, wow, do I envy you. (But how did you live this long without Dortmunder?)
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the Greatest Comic Heist Novels July 31, 2003
If you have not yet read The Hot Rock, you have an amazing treat ahead of you. With brilliant plotting, amusing characters and a strong sense of irony, The Hot Rock makes side-tickling fun of just about everything you can imagine. This book also introduces the character, John Archibald Dortmunder, who stars in the marvelous series of books that followed this one.
Dortmunder is about to get out of prison on parole, and is looking forward to the $300 that another inmate will pay him for his old cell. That plan is scotched when the warden decides to personally escort Dortmunder out of the prison. So there he is with regret for his lost $300 and poor prospects. Then it gets worse! A Cadillac chases him onto the sidewalk against a wall. And that's just the first three and a half pages!
Dortmunder's old pal, Andy Kelp, has lined up a job that requires Dortmunder to do the planning for the caper. A former British colony in Africa has recently become two independent nations, Talabwo and Akinzi, each run by a different tribe. The Akinzi have possession of the Balabomo Emerald, worth $500,000, and the UN Ambassador from Talabwo, Major Patrick Ito, is offering $30,000 a man (for up to five men) to retrieve the emerald which is now residing in the New York Coliseum at a Pan-African display. Dortmunder needs money, so he decides to take the job . . . if the major will pay a little walking around money in the meantime.
Soon, Dortmunder has developed a brilliant plan that requires some special props, which the major provides. Into the Coliseum go four of the five, and three return . . . minus the emerald. After this setback, the plot starts to get really complicated.
Read more ›
Was this review helpful to you?
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Absorbing Caper September 6, 2001
When a valuable emerald is on display in New York City, it presents an opportunity for those who feel it's rightfully theirs, to steal it. The emerald in question is a religious icon, owned by a small African nation. A neighbouring African nation believes it's theirs and they want it back, so they hire John Dortmunder for the job of retrieving it. John Dortmunder is a master thief and has a knack for planning, but can't do it all himself, so he needs to call on others for their expertise. This is when the fun really begins.
What starts out as a simple case of robbery quickly develops into a comedy of errors as unforeseen circumstance follows plain bad luck. John Dortmunder and his men become determined to succeed at their task, which leads to a series of events ranging from amusing to farcical.
The offbeat characters portrayed in the book add an extra dimension of humour and helps create an upbeat atmosphere throughout. There's a car nut who, of course, is their getaway driver, a gentle and possibly just a bit loopy (toot-toot) model train lover, a Casanova-type pretty boy and a stock standard right-hand-man. All of them thoroughly professional yet, sort of oozing a not-quite-right feeling about them.
We're treated to a light-hearted caper in and around New York City in the book that introduces John Dortmunder to us. You can't help but like these rogues as they stumble from bad situation to worse. It's an amusing comedy that should have you smiling as you read the last page.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars fun read
Fun read for touching back to a simpler time.
Published 1 day ago by Jeffrey J. Keelan
4.0 out of 5 stars It's fun
This book is in the "caper" genre. That alone makes me smile. I enjoyed this book, I really did. It's different that the sort of mysteries I normally read. Read more
Published 2 days ago by Jennifer
4.0 out of 5 stars Dortmunder- Parker without the starkness
Publication date: 1970, as can be seen from this evocative drop of a brand name late in the book:

One rainy October afternoon, Ambassador Nkolimi was sitting in his... Read more
Published 9 days ago by Christopher
2.0 out of 5 stars The Cold Truth
In The Hot Rock, John Dortmunder, a hard-luck planner of heists, leads a five-man crew of career criminals on a series of capers in a quest to steal the Balabomo Emerald for an... Read more
Published 1 month ago by John Box
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
It's Donald E. Westlake with another Dortmunder novel. You can't go wrong.
Published 1 month ago by David
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great book
Published 2 months ago by Samuel Phifer
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic caper
I love the movie, "The Hot Rock", with Robert Redford and George Segal, but I did not read the book it was based on until recently. I wish I had read it earlier. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Lemon Sky
5.0 out of 5 stars The Heist Novel I've Been Looking For
I haven't always been a constant reader but I remember when I first started reading fiction when I wished there was a novel that involved heists. Read more
Published 3 months ago by David
5.0 out of 5 stars A Wonderful Change of Pace for Parker fans
Fans of Westlake's Parker series will love this alternative series from their favorite author. Westlake's Parker is noir; Dortmunder, on the other hand, quite humerous. Read more
Published 3 months ago by G. Simms
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Love love LOVE Donald Westlake! Thanks for the book. IT arrived on time and in good shape!
Published 3 months ago by Angela Whiteaker
Search Customer Reviews

More About the Author

Discover books, learn about writers, read author blogs, and more.

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?


There are no discussions about this product yet.
Be the first to discuss this product with the community.
Start a new discussion
First post:
Prompts for sign-in

Look for Similar Items by Category