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What's the Worst That Could Happen? [Mass Market Paperback]

Donald E. Westlake
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Oct. 1 1997 Dortmunder Novels
Dortmunder is in the midst of a routine burglary of a Long Island mansion when who shows up toting a gun but the owner, nasty billionaire Max Fairbanks. Worse, Fairbanks takes Dortmunder's supposedly lucky ring. Highly insulted, Dortmunder and his gang execute their own peculiar reign of terror, and although they acquire quite a bit of Fairbanks' swag, they never quite get the ring back. Which leads Dortmunder to wonder precisely what sort of luck the ring carries.

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From Amazon

When Max Fairbanks, a vastly wealthy and powerful magnate, catches John Dortmunder breaking into his Long Island mansion, he thinks he is dealing with some regular loser. It amuses him to deprive Dortmund of his lucky ring. In Westlake's ingenious and dazzling comic thriller, Fairbanks lives to regret that gratuitous humiliation. The engaging Dortmund gathers a band of cronies, and exacts revenge at a series of the rich man's fancy palaces, from a penthouse on Broadway to a fantasy retreat in Las Vegas. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

John Dortmunder, the taciturn con man who is the hero of Westlake's funniest series of caper novels, is someone perfectly capable of nursing a grievance. When billionaire hotshot Max Fairbanks, who has caught Dortmunder burgling his Long Island estate, tells the arresting police that the good-luck ring on Dortmunder's finger was stolen from him (when it was in fact a gift from Dortmunder's girlfriend, May), Max's fate, no matter how well protected he may be, is sealed. Dortmunder makes repeated attempts to get his ring back, hitting on ingenious ways to get into the billionaire's lavish Times Square and Watergate apartments, making off each time with considerable loot. But only when Fairbanks goes off to his huge casino/hotel/theme park in Las Vegas, in a deliberate attempt to entrap Dortmunder, does the dour vengeance-seeker shift into really high gear. Picturesque rogues from previous Dortmunder outings are collected into a formidable army, pitted against the best security Max's millions can buy, all leading to a showdown only Westlake could have conceived. As can be expected from this expert hand, the narrative is at once laconic and fast, the jokes constant, fresh and funny. Dortmunder, as always, is a potent brew that makes the world look brighter. Mystery Guild featured alternate.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Whose Bad Luck Is It? July 19 2003
By Donald Mitchell #1 HALL OF FAME TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Mass Market Paperback
In If you have read any of the previous novels about John Dortmunder, the imaginative planner for many a heist, you know that he lacks only one element to have a perfect life . . . some good luck. In What's the Worst That Could Happen? Talented crime caper author Donald E. Westlake reveals many ironies about our views on luck.
As the book opens, Dortmunder is offered $500 to pretend he is someone else at a deposition. He spends a week memorizing his lines, and is ready to go. Then he friend cancels the whole thing. So there's no $500 coming. As usual, such a setback sets Dortmunder in motion to find a new source of "easy" and illegal income.
May, Dortmunder's girl friend, receives a FedEx package, and is puzzled. Unexpectedly, her uncle, Gideon Gilbert Goodwin has died. Her sister, June, has decided to send her Uncle Gideon's "lucky ring." May remembers Uncle Gid as "the one who smelled like horse manure, I think. He was out at the track all the time." The ring was not too thrilling. It was "gold-looking but wasn't gold . . ." and "displayed on its flat surface three thin lines of tiny stones -- chips, really -- . . . that were probably glass." The top line was discontinuous with a blank in the middle. May's annoyed because she sees this as a gambit by June to get May to call her. The ring also doesn't fit her. She asks John to try it on. "You could use a little luck." The ring fits perfectly on the ring finger of his right hand. "So there you are," she said. "Your lucky ring."
Immediately, the phone rings and a friend, Gus, offers him the chance to work on a burglary that night. A billionaire, Max Fairbanks, "is in Chapter Eleven, so the house his corporation owns . . .
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4.0 out of 5 stars Highly Original Sept. 19 2002
Burglars such as John Dortmunder can accept getting caught and turned over to the police, it goes with the territory. So it was with an air of inevitability that Dortmunder allowed himself to be handcuffed by the police after making the mistake of getting caught while robbing billionaire Max Fairbanks. What is totally unacceptable is, while in custody and about to be taken to the station, the same Max Fairbanks brazenly steals Dortmunder's 'lucky' ring.
John is determined to recover his ring and won't rest until he has it. The fact that he's up against a billionaire with virtually unlimited resources isn't enough to alter his resolve. So we follow caper after caper as John and his old friend Andy Kelp make their attempts which occur in New York City, Washington D.C. and then, in a rousing finale, in Las Vegas.
This is the 9th book in the Dortmunder series and is an outstanding story that contains all the humour and characters of the previous books, but is different for one important reason. It looks as though John's luck may have changed, although he won't hear of it. It's the paradox between the luck Dortmunder thinks he is experiencing and the luck he's actually having that provides many of the more amusing moments.
Donald Westlake's John Dortmunder series has provided me with some of the most consistently entertaining reading of any author I have read in recent years. The books are complete farces, yet have been presented with the greatest imagination possible. What's The Worst That Could Happen picks up this precedent and carries it even further. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good laugh.
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When career thief, Dortmunder is asked by a friend to rob a vacant holiday house in Long Island he agrees thinking what's the worst thing that could happen?
Only the house is not vacant and billionaire media baron tycoon Max Fairbanks holds Dortmunder captive at gunpoint until the police arrive. The police ask Fairbanks if anything is stolen and upon seeing a ring on Dortmunder's finger he decides he will turn the tables on his intruder and steal his ring. He claims the ring is his and the cop makes Dortmunder hand it over. Pleased with himself Fairbanks figures, what's the worst that could happen?
Fairbanks is humiliated and enraged. Vengeance and getting the ring back are all that occupies his mind, but Fairbanks is extremely powerful and hard to track down. This is an interesting book. A bit slow in parts but a good basic plot. If you like this and want a sensational Westlake novel read his book The Ax.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Dortmunder, funny as always. June 25 2000
Format:Mass Market Paperback
John Dortmunder is a burglar. While on what should have been an easy job he's caught by the pistol-toting homeowner and gets caught. That's bad enough, but the homeowner, wealthy Max Fairbanks, adds insult to injury when he claims that Dortmunder's lucky ring actually belongs to him. Big mistake. Dortmunder vows to get the ring back no matter what which leads to a series of funny capers where Max Fairbanks loses more and more wealth until the slam-bang finish in Las Vegas.
I've been reading the Dortmunder novels for years and they never disappoint. They are always funny with a little cockeyed slant to them that Donald Westlake is famous for. They are just fun books to read and I'd recommend any of them.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Dortmunder's Revenge Oct. 31 2000
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This is a jewel of a book from Westlake. When Dortmunder is caught in a heist, the victim manages to take the thief's "lucky" ring when the police apprehend him. Dortmunder's quest for his missing ring brings in all of our favorite characters from the series as he robs millionaire Fairbanks time and again. The book culminates in a Vegas heist that would do Ocean's 11 proud. Funny and exciting, this book is a must have for any Westlake/Stark fan.
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