Drowned Hopes by Donald E. Westlake is the tale of a crime caper orchestrated by half-wits and that’s being generous to the wannabe criminals. The protagonist, Dortmunder, is a well-meaning petty thief who without bad luck would have no luck at all. When a former partner in crime shows up with the job of a lifetime, it seems too good to be true, but Dortmunder accepts the role of mastermind and assembles a motley crew of Oceans Eleven rejects. Seeing their inept failures is at turns ridiculous and hilarious, but for Dortmunder the stakes for failure is to be labeled a mass murderer. Westlake is better known for his taut, hard-boiled series of Parker novels under the pseudonym Richard Stark. Writing under his real name, he has a decidedly different style and tone, and Parker would eat Dortmunder for breakfast, but this novel is full of uniquely crafted characters and enough plot twists to keep you guessing.