Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Watch Your Back! by Donald Westlake

It's a Dortmunder book, what's not to love? It's also one I somehow missed at the time, so I was happy to get what felt like an "extra" book.

I still always think of What's the Worst That Could Happen? as the real finish to the series. All the gang gathered in one huge Ocean's Eleven style casino takedown, with Dortmunder finally coming out ahead. It feels like a finale to me (and a great one). This novel is not as awesome as that one. But hey, I'll take the worst Dortmunder novel over the vast majority of current crime publishing any day.

There was a point in reading this that I just stopped and walked away for a couple of days. It looked like Dortmunder and Co. were going to get caught in the act. I know Westlake has gotten them out of trickier situations, (Question: has any book ever ended with any of our main crew arrested? I don't think so.) but at that time, to me, (and probably influenced by what else I was reading, not to mention real life), I just knew Something Bad was going to happen, and unlike life, I could pause a book indefinitely before that ever occurred.

I'm glad I did finish it, though. Put your faith in Westlake, this was the closest call I can remember the gang having. But not only did they escape the law, they also managed to neatly get rid of their enemies, stick it to the Man, and come out a just barely a few bucks ahead. It's classic Dortmunder, and why I keep coming back to read and re-read them over and over.

One thing, though, who is the support group using the back room at the OJ in the end of the book? Vampires? Characters from one of Westlake's other series? Their inclusion is so random that they must mean something, but what?

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