Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Watch Your Back! (Dortmunder, #13)” as Want to Read:
Watch Your Back! (Dortmunder, #13)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Watch Your Back! (Dortmunder #13)

3.89  ·  Rating Details  ·  789 Ratings  ·  58 Reviews
- After a year on the lam, the return of bumbling thief Dortmunder is a cause celebre. The author's most recent Dortmunder caper. "The Road to Ruin, and the short story collection, "Thieves' Dozen, received rave reviews in the "New York Times Book Review, New York Daily News, and "Kirkus Reviews (starred review), among other publications.- "Money for Nothing (Mysterious Pr ...more
Paperback, 345 pages
Published March 1st 2006 by Grand Central Publishing (first published 2005)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Watch Your Back!, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Watch Your Back!

Oh, The Places You'll Go! by Dr. SeussHow the Grinch Stole Christmas! by Dr. SeussMoo, Baa, La La La! by Sandra BoyntonThe Amazing Super Great Awesome Incredible Fantastic Space Race! by Othen Donald Dale CummingsGo, Dog. Go! by P.D. Eastman
Titles with an Exclamation Point!
128th out of 598 books — 43 voters
Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay AsherThe Thirteen Problems by Agatha ChristieThe Thirteenth Tale by Diane SetterfieldThe A.B.C. Murders by Agatha ChristieThirteen at Dinner by Agatha Christie
Lucky 13
153rd out of 170 books — 30 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,144)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Jan 06, 2009 thefourthvine rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery, humor, kindle
In my opinion, this is a standout among the later Dortmunder novels. That doesn't make it nearly as good as the classics - Don't Ask, What's the Worst That Could Happen? - but it definitely means that this is a fun light read.

Westlake handles the plot much better in Watch Your Back! than in the earlier The Road to Ruin - here, he's up to his old tricks, knitting several plotlines together so that they are one joyous snarl by the end of the book. He's got the same old characters, and I for one a
Charles Dee Mitchell
Nov 29, 2015 Charles Dee Mitchell rated it liked it
Shelves: crime
I am a Richard Stark reader. I have read nine of the Parker novels, and return to them when in the mood for great crime fiction in a dark register. Stark is one of the several pseudonyms of Donald Westlake, author of around a hundred novels before his death in 2008. As Westlake he is best known for the Dortmunder series. Whereas Parker is a master thief who take on only major, complex heists, Dortmunder’s crew are small timers, picking up whatever comes their way. I say that having read only thi ...more
Feb 15, 2011 Steve rated it really liked it
It's the score of a lifetime: easy access to a lavish New York City apartment, hordes of valuables, and an absentee owner avoiding the lawyers of his unhappy ex-wives.

lots of sub-plots going on.
including the MOB of jersey.
I like the "fence" who, no one says it, but he is autistic and a real character. I read this while home sick, in one day. lots of good comedy.
very pleasant commute cd in the car.
different when read to.
May 09, 2009 Spiros rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone who takes a passionate interest in the fate of fictitious Upper West Side watering holes
This is probably the most intricately plotted of the Dortmunder novels; happily, the various plot strands do nothing to interfere with the laughs. The most compeling facets are the Gang's heroic efforts to save the O.J. from the predations of the Jersey Mob, and the introduction of Judson Blint, who features in later Dortmunder novels as "the Kid". Needless to say, things tend to go wrong.
Apr 20, 2012 Johnny rated it really liked it
Shelves: thriller, humor
It’s a Dortmunder book! What do I have to tell you? You know there is a perfect set-up for a crime. You know that by the time Dortmunder executes the plan, it is no longer going to be perfect and a most non-fortuitous circumstance will gum up the works. In this case, it seems like a simple burglary where no one is at home—an embarrassment of riches from the art world that should satisfy any gang. Imagine an absentee owner and a huge collection of expensive objets d’ art Yet, there are complicati ...more
Aug 18, 2014 David rated it it was amazing
Shelves: noirboiled
Watch Your Back! belongs at the bottom of the top tier of Dortmunder novels. Lightweight but exquisitely plotted, the novel concerns, in large part, the fate of the O.J. Bar and Grill, where Dortmunder and his crew often meet. The more affection that you feel for the O.J., the more you will care how things turn out, so Watch Your Back! is best read in its proper sequence (12th novel in the series, not counting one story collection), by which time, if you are still reading the series, you ought t ...more
Adam Hegg
Dec 09, 2012 Adam Hegg rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed-books
Dortmunder! Gosh I love these books. The tropes are nothing new. Perhaps it is in their familiarity that I find such fun an comfort.

This book in particular is one of my favorites thus far (I am reading them decidedly out of order). In a break from my typical reading I was more and more excited to watch the plot (well...plots) develop. Of course this doesn't change my ultimate affection for the characters and what they do I was just more breathless than usual finding which plot would pay off when
Ted Lehmann
Jun 19, 2016 Ted Lehmann rated it it was amazing
Donald Westlake takes his time. One of the mos renowned contemporary American crime writers, Westlake slowly but surely builds his plot, introduces his characters, and brings them together in a riotous, enjoyable, comic crime novel that concludes driving the reader right to the end, after wondering, for a while, if reading this book would be worth the time and effort. In Watch Your Back!, Westlake introduces Dortmunder, the central character in this series of fourteen novels and eleven short sto ...more
Jul 27, 2010 Ellen rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: L. Block's Bernie R.
Shelves: humor, nyc
Westland set up the best capers in the business, (RIP), with pay offs in belly laughs. I just finished listening to Watch Your Back, in which the Back Room Boys not only plan a burglary, but fight to save the bar where they hatch their heists.

If you can, listen to this and the other Dortmunder novels. I feared that I couldn't possibly enjoy William Dufris' narration as well as Michael Kramer's, but both gentleman do justice to the understated, wry style of an author who always pulled it off.
Aug 04, 2015 Ed rated it really liked it
Shelves: crime, action, humor
#13 in the John Dortmunder series.

John Dortmunder and his band of thieves are enticed by a fence to ransack the penthouse apartment of a multi-millionaire the fence has met at club Med. A parallel story follows the plan to rescue the bar containing their normal meeting room from the clutches of a NJ wiseguy.

Denise M.
Sep 13, 2009 Denise M. marked it as to-read
AKA: Alan Marshall, Alan Marsh, James Blue, Ben Christopher, Edwin West, John B. Allan, Curt Clark, Tucker Coe, P.N. Castor, Timothy J. Culver, J. Morgan Cunningham, Samuel Holt, Judson Jack Carmichael, Richard Stark, Donald E. Westlake
Mar 24, 2014 Dave rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction-read
Another diverting caper/heist story featuring Dortmunder's crew. A favorite fence noted for his obnoxious personality returns from a rehabilitation stay at Club Med where he met an arrogant embezzler on whom the fence wants to achieve revenge / humiliation, so the fence enlists Dortmunder's gang to loot the rich man's apartment. Meanwhile a scion of the mob has muscled in on Dortmunder's favorite bar / hangout, so the gang feel compelled to save 'their' meeting space from the upstart. As usual t ...more
Apr 29, 2010 Maddy rated it really liked it
RATING: 3.75

The O.J. Bar & Grill has long been the meeting place for John Dortmunder and his cohorts. It's a place where you're known by what you drink and not by your name. After hanging out with this crew for 11 books, I feel like I can slide right in at the table – I'm the Pepsi straight up – and argue about having furniture in heaven or chime in on how to handle the latest mission that Dortmunder has cooked up.

An acquaintance by the name of Arnie Albright has undergone an intervention to
Apr 27, 2013 Mike rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone

Although I have been steadily working my way through the Dortmunder canon, it’s hard to believe that I know only have two to go. Watch Your Back! Is the twelfth novel in the series and tries to freshen up a bit by adding a few new players and expanding the action (if ever so briefly) to the Caribbean and Florida. There’s still a basic formula (heist gets planned, heist goes wrong somehow, the gang has to escape somehow), but the basic heist is different enough and there major sub-plots are stron
Jun 22, 2011 Patrick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I haven't yet had the pleasure of reading everything in the Dortmunder series, but its opener ("The Hot Rock") was a hoot, and "Watch Your Back!", which is several capers later, proves that Donald Westlake is the best in the business at this sort of thing. Nominal protagonist John Dortmunder is a professional burglar, albeit strictly small-time. Westlake writes him as such an amiable loser that you can't help but root for the guy. He drives plots without dominating them, perhaps because Westlake ...more
Nov 11, 2014 Jonah rated it liked it
Shelves: series, crime, comedy
I appreciate Westlake's nod to chick-lit:

Alan, dressed, teeth brushed, presented himself at the office, where the young woman on duty found it hard to believe she was expected to have a conversation with a guest at this hour. Being alone here on the graveyard shift meant, to her, being alone, surrounded by bright paperback examples of chick-lit, each with its cover featuring a perky, smirky girl whose face needed to be slapped.
May 20, 2015 Tobie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a fun book to read. I wanted it to be longer and, thankfully, this is just one book in a series. Yeah!

Good bad guys and bad, really bad, good guys. Love it!
Mar 15, 2015 Joanne rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Poor Dortmunder! He tries so hard to make a living as a thief and is thwarted at every turn. Incompetent accomplices or bad luck, take your pick. But always, always, good for a laugh.
Scott Schroeder
Jun 26, 2016 Scott Schroeder rated it really liked it
Read this ages ago, along with all the other Dortmunder books. I love humorous crime books... Donald Westlake and Lawrence Block...
Feb 08, 2014 Njbatz rated it really liked it
I hadn't read any of Donald Westlake's works before, but I enjoyed this book and will likely read more of his works in the future.
Feb 14, 2014 Dennis rated it it was amazing
Dortmunder what more is there to say?
Oct 23, 2015 Barbara rated it it was amazing
Surreally hilarious.
Feb 08, 2014 Ed rated it liked it
enjoyable, cute read
Apr 01, 2011 Angie rated it really liked it
This was a pretty good Dortmunder book. It took a little longer than normal to get the plot set up, but once going it was great, and I lol'ed several times. My fave chapter was 2 pages long, and the F bomb was dropped 59 times.
Dortmunder (et al.) has to save the OJ from being taken over by New Jersey mobsters. Also they add a new member to the gang: "the kid" Judson.
Sep 10, 2008 Patty rated it it was ok
Recommended to Patty by: Bill
Westlake really knows how to put together a story. He plots so well that all the pieces of the puzzle always fit at the end. He never ceases to amaze me. I convince myself that there is no way Westlake is going to manage it this time and he still gets everything right. What a lot of fun. Read this on my Kindle.
Apr 23, 2009 Strohm3 rated it really liked it
I don't think I learned anything from this book, I did enjoy it though. I love books that have a lot of characters and interesting twists. I enjoyed the authors humor and descriptive writing. It was an easy read that kept me wanting to know more. Overall, an enjoyable read.
Apr 12, 2009 Jeanne rated it liked it
Shelves: book-club
Anne's choice for May 2009. There were lots of characters to keep track of. The plot comes together nicely in the end. Not everything needs to be richly-developed, but the writing style in this was really shallow. An okay read, but not really my style of book.
Nov 11, 2011 Derk rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm a big Westlake fan, particularly the Dortmunder Series. I've read all of his books I could get my hands on. This one followed the familiar pattern of the Dortmunder series and was not perhaps up to the best of them, but was still quite enjoyable.
Jan 24, 2012 Maura rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
a Dortmunder book. the usual -- high levels of wittiness in describing a burglary that goes all wrong (and yet pretty darn well). This series is one of my reliable fallbacks when I need something good to read, and this was up to par.
Calton Bolick
Aug 06, 2011 Calton Bolick rated it it was amazing
Disorganized crime as the not-quite-master criminal John Dortmunder tries to put together the perfect heist, distracted by the takeover of his favorite tavern by the New Jersey mafia. Comic complications, as always, ensue.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 38 39 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Ask The Parrot (Parker, #23)
  • The Burglar in the Rye (Bernie Rhodenbarr, #9)
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 1950's, churning out novels for pulp houses—often writing as many as four novels a year under various pseudonyms such as Richard Stark—but soon began publishing under his own name. His most well-known characters were John Dortmunder, an unlucky thief, and a ru ...more
More about Donald E. Westlake...

Other Books in the Series

Dortmunder (1 - 10 of 15 books)
  • The Hot Rock (Dortmunder, #1)
  • Bank Shot (Dortmunder, #2)
  • Jimmy The Kid (Dortmunder, #3)
  • Nobody's Perfect (Dortmunder, #4)
  • Why Me? (Dortmunder, #5)
  • Good Behavior (Dortmunder, #6)
  • Drowned Hopes (Dortmunder, #7)
  • Don't Ask (Dortmunder, #8)
  • What's The Worst That Could Happen? (Dortmunder, #9)
  • Bad News (Dortmunder, #10)

Share This Book

“huddled together at the left end of the bar, as silent and miserable as kittens in a sack with the bridge getting close.” 2 likes
“If buyer’s remorse ever accomplished anything in this world,” Max said, “we’d all still be living in caves.” 1 likes
More quotes…