Back in the land of the living thanks to antibiotics. Well, sort of living, at least. Strep throat can really do a number on you especially when one does not know one has it. Apparently, there is some new strain of Strep that does not make your throat hurt nor does it show up as white patches in the back of the throat. Instead, confirmation comes by way of the old swab at the back of the throat. As my doctor puts it, this is not good for patients who have “a heightened gag reflex.” There has to be a better way to test the patient.
Enough about that. If you are looking for a quirky mystery, I have just the book in mind for you. This recent release titled “Watch Your Back!” by Donald E. Westlake was my first exposure to his wild world. The novel combines humor with off the wall characters and a madcap caper to pleasantly entertain readers.
Watch Your Back! A Dortmunder Novel
By Donald E. Westlake
ISBN # 0-89296-802-8
John Dortmunder and crew are not happy they can’t meet in the backroom of the O.J. Bar & Grill as usual. Everyone around knows they meet there to plan their jobs, but they can’t because outsiders have taken over. Outsiders that, beyond their strange taste in clothes, have the regulars quaking in fear and the barman, Rollo, scanning the want ads. The outsiders have to be dealt with and Dortmunder has to figure out a way.
He also has to figure out a way to deal with a proposition from Arnie Albright. Arnie is their usual fence and has just returned from having his attitude adjusted on an island resort. While it could be questioned whether the intervention worked, there is no mistaking the genius of Arnie’s proposed target.
While on the island resort, he met an incredibly rich and obnoxious man by the name of Preston Fareweather. Mr. Fareweather, beyond being obscenely rich and a pitiful human being (even Arnie thinks he is a jerk) is hiding from his five angry ex-wives and their process servers. Instead of being at home in New York in his penthouse apartment dealing with the problems he has created, he is on the island laying waste to the various gold digging trollops who decide to spend time with him. Arnie proposes Dortmunder and crew should take down Fareweather’s penthouse and for steering them the work, he wants thirty percent.
It’s a great deal and despite being almost too good to be true, one that Dortmunder and crew can’t resist. So, they split their time with planning the job and working on how to handle the problem at the O. J. While Dortmunder may feel that everything is under control, before long it is very clear that things aren’t, if they ever really were. Madcap hijinks ensue as both storylines gradually weave together with a definite sense of poetic justice.
Fans of Donald E. Westlake no doubt know and appreciate what is in store in this entertaining read. For those who don’t care for a strong amount of humor, to the point of madcap variety at times, this read is definitely not appropriate. For everyone else, this is an enjoyable and entertaining novel that will have you chuckling from start to finish.
A big thank you to Renee Supriano of the Time Warner Book Group for providing a review copy. It is appreciated!
More next time and as always feel free to drop me a note at Kevin_tipple@att.net with your comments, observations, and suggestions.
Thanks for reading!
Kevin R. Tipple © 2005
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