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Watch Your Back! (Dortmunder, #13)
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Watch Your Back!

(Dortmunder #13)

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  1,070 ratings  ·  77 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)
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Average rating 3.96  · 
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 ·  1,070 ratings  ·  77 reviews

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Apr 27, 2009 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.
Feb 02, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: x2019-20-season
The last of the Dortmunder's for me (I read the final book out of order) and this penultimate volume is actually better than the capstone. Technology intrudes on the gang, but not in such a discordant fashion. A new member is introduced distinct enough to hold his own. The only real let-down is the structure of the coda - shoving information at the readers through newscasts to tie up all the threads is rather lazy.
Jan 06, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: humor, kindle, mystery
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
Sep 29, 2010 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.
Jul 29, 2019 rated it liked it
These are always a fun read. Westlake is great at mixing plots, humor, characterizations and observations.
Jun 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I read the entire Dortmunder series years ago. I was looking for something with humor so I decided to read this one again. I think it was funnier this time than the first time I read it. I'm going to read them all again. Great entertainment.
Apr 20, 2012 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
Charles Dee Mitchell
Nov 29, 2015 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
Jul 27, 2010 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.
Adam Hegg
Dec 07, 2012 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
Aug 18, 2014 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
Aug 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: action, crime, 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.

Mike MacDonald
Dec 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I'm in...first time I've picked up a Dortmunder novel. I made 2 mistakes, both of which involved putting the book down for more than one day at a time. Each time, I had to re-read everything to get back up to speed on where I left off. Best advice: read it in one weekend. There are a lot of plot threads, and you have to be able to hold them all.
That aside, great read, very enjoyable. I pictured the author giggling as he developed some of these characters. The last author who developed characters
Apr 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
It's been a long time since I've read any of these wonderful Dortmunder capers, but I'm glad to get back to them. Right now our libraries are closed, but e-books are still available, and these are old enough that they've fallen off in popularity, so I can instantly get one to my Kindle. This one made me laugh out loud at one point (which I never do when I'm reading), and after the fact I realized how carefully Westlake had set up the joke without my being aware of it. As always with Dortmunder, ...more
May 30, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: novels
I love and recommend the Dortmunder novels, most of which can be enjoyed in no particular order. This one is a slight exception to that rule, as it somewhat relies on you having some baseline familiarity with the characters. It’s not my favorite in the series, its plot a little too sprawling and long-winded. But it still has a ton of charm, including a great first line and a number of classic Westlake jokes. Can’t go wrong with Dortmunder, even lesser entries like this one.
Ted Lehmann
Jun 19, 2016 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
David C Ward
Formulaic but it's a good formula; 3.5 stars. I would like to have seen Dortmunder get a big score but that would have defeated the formula of the decently competent crook who is beset by bad luck. Lots of moving parts in this one. I do get a bit tired of the routine at the OJ Bar and Grill.
Jun 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
There really was no one better than Donald E. Westlake when it came to writing light caper novels. This isn't his best of the Dortmunder series, but even then, this is a deftly written comic caper.
Oct 08, 2017 rated it liked it
Only #14 and #15 left in the series - I'm going to miss Dortmunder - but for now, on to the next one!
Aug 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I loved that book! I enjoy some subtle an some weird humor. I love the writing style. And I love how things turn out. I wish I could meet the author.
Stephen Dube
Dec 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
I'll give it a four just cause it gives us the back story on OJ's... brings more life to the place. Someday gotta read them all in order.
Mahesh Phadke
Jan 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
Not one of Westlake's best Dortmunder novels, but certainly enjoyable.
Apr 23, 2019 rated it liked it
Way too much time is spent on frankly uninteresting matters, and the book starts to feel padded. A first in my experience with Westlake.
Josh Hamacher
Jul 23, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: funny
This one took a while to get going, but it picked up about a third of the way in and I immensely enjoyed it from there on out.
May 12, 2020 rated it liked it
A fun and mindless caper
Doug Ward
Jun 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of my favorite installments in the series. Several subplots collide at the end, and the fallout is hilarious.
Jun 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Without question this one had the best ending of any of the series I’ve read so far.
Apr 27, 2013 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
Apr 29, 2010 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 cur
Patrick O'Hannigan
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
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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

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)

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