Mystery writer won Oscar nom for 'The Grifters'

Prolific mystery author Donald Westlake, who had many stories adapted into films and won an Oscar nom for his screenplay for “The Grifters,” died Dec. 31 in Mexico. He was 75.

More than 15 of his books were made into movies, including “Point Blank” and “The Hot Rock.” As with other prominent American mystery writers, his works were often adapted for French films, including “The Ax” “The Hook,” “The Gods Must Be Daring” “Pillaged” and “The Twin.” He wrote a number of screenplays, including “The Grifters,” which was nominated for an Academy Award in 1991, “The Stepfather” from his novel, and “Ripley Underground.”

His first novel, “The Mercenaries,” was published by Random House in 1960.

Westlake wrote more than 90 books — mostly on a typewriter. Aside from his own name, he also used several pseudonyms — including Richard Stark, Tucker Coe, Samuel Holt and Edwin West — in part because people didn’t believe he could write so much so quickly.

In recent years, Westlake wrote only under his name and Richard Stark, author of a dark, spare series about a one-named sociopath called Parker.

Westlake continued to write until he died. His latest novel, “Get Real,” is scheduled to be released in April 2009.

He is survived by his wife Abigail, four sons, three stepchildren and four grandchildren.

– Associated Press

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