You probably haven't noticed them. But they've noticed you. They notice everything. That's their job. Sitting quietly in a nondescript car outside a bank making note of the tellers' work habits. Lagging a few car lengths behind the Brinks truck on its daily rounds. Surreptitiously jiggling the handle of an unmarked service door at the racetrack. They're heisters.
"It was fun. It was different."
Parker, the ruthless antihero of Richard Stark's eponymous mystery novels, is one of the most unforgettable characters in hardboiled noir. Lauded by critics for his taut realism, unapologetic amorality, and razor-sharp prose-style, Stark is a master of crime writing, his books as influential as any in the genre. Parker goes under the knife in The Man with the Getaway Face, changing his face to escape the mob and a contract on his life. Along the way he scores his biggest heist yet.
"3 ½ stars. There were some good parts."
When a job looks like amateur hour, Parker walks away. But even a squad of seasoned professionals can’t guarantee against human error in a high-risk scam. Can an art dealer with issues unload a truck of paintings with Parker’s aid? Or will the heist end up too much of a human interest story, as luck runs out before Parker can get in on the score?
After the bloodbath of Butcher’s Moon, the action-filled blowout Parker adventure, Donald Westlake said, “Richard Stark proved to me that he had a life of his own by simply disappearing. He was gone.” But nothing bad is truly gone forever, and Parker’s as bad as they come. According to Westlake, one day in 1997, “suddenly, he came back from the dead” - and the resulting novel, Comeback, showed that neither Stark nor Parker had lost a single step. Knocking over a highly lucrative religious revival show, Parker reminds us that not all criminals don ski masks.
"3 ½ stars. This was ok,"
Bank robberies should run like clockwork, right? If your name's Parker, you expect nothing less. Until, that is, one of your partners gets too greedy for his own good. The four-way split following a job leaves too small a take for George Uhl, who begins to pick off his fellow hoisters, one by one. The first mistake? That he doesn't begin things by putting a bullet in Parker. That means he won't get the chance to make a second. One of the darkest novels in the series, this caper proves the adage that no one crosses Parker and lives.
"4 ½ stars. I liked getting revenge,"
It was an impossible crime: knock off an entire North Dakota town called Copper Canyon - clean out the plant payroll, both banks, and all the stores in one night. Parker called it "science fiction," but with the right men (a score of them), he could figure it out to the last detail. It could work. If the men behaved like pros, cool and smart; if they didn't get impatient, start chasing skirts, or decide to take the opportunity to settle secret old scores…they just might pull it off.
"Weak 3 stars. Not enough suspense or unexpected."
The hunter becomes prey, as a heist goes sour and Parker finds himself trapped in a shuttered amusement park, besieged by a bevy of local mobsters. There are no exits from Fun Island. Outnumbered and outgunned, Parker can’t afford a single miscalculation. He’s low on bullets - but, as anyone who’s crossed his path knows, that definitely doesn’t mean he’s defenseless.
"Wow!!!!! I was surprised and so impressed"
The heist was a piece of cake. It didn't bother Parker that the priceless statue was in a Russian diplomat's house… because he had no scruples about ripping off a Red. It didn't bother Parker that his ex-girlfriend had blackmailed him into pulling this job… because he figured out how to make an extra fifty grand on the deal. It did bother Parker that somebody else was trying to steal the statue first - because being second wasn't Parker's style. Whether he was up against the mob or the KGB, Parker intended to beat them all at the stealing game. Of course, he didn't count on a double cross....
"A Good Read, But There Are Better Parker Stories"
When it comes to heists, Parker believes in some cardinal rules. On this job, he breaks two of them: never bring a dame along - especially not one you like - and never, ever, work with amateurs. Nevertheless, with the help of a creep named Billy, and the lure of a classy widow, he agrees to set up a heist of a coin convention. But Billy’s a rookie with no idea how to pull off a score, and the lady soon becomes a major distraction. The Rare Coin Score marks the first appearance of Claire, who will steal Parker’s heister’s heart - while together they steal two million dollars’ worth of coins.
"3 ½ stars. Engaging."
The good guys in a new African nation were missing a treasury full of diamonds. The nation's corrupt leader had stashed the rocks somewhere in New York City. Now the good guys needed a specialist to get their diamonds back. So they came to the best in the business: Parker. Only the three mysterious tough guys came to Parker, too. They figured three hands filled with .38s could convince him to pass up this international gem game. But leaning on Parker was like pressuring a box of TNT with a short fuse.
"Nasty, brutish, and short..."
Here’s Parker—planning to steal the entire payroll of an Air Force base in upstate New York, with help from Marty Fusco, fresh out of the pen, and a smart-aleck finance clerk named Devers. Holed up with family in a scrappy little town, the hoisters prepare for the risky job by trying to shorten the odds. But the ice is thinner than Parker likes to think—and Marty’s ex-wife is much more complicated.
"Not as good a some of the others in the series,"
Baron is clever - perhaps too clever. He sits on the heavily protected island of Cockaigne, a mini-Las Vegas forty miles out in the Gulf of Mexico, raking in as much as $250,000 some nights, laughing at the Outfit, who can’t collect their cut. Now the Outfit can no longer stand the loss of face - not to mention the loss of revenue. That’s why they’ve sent for Parker, who knows that the line between success and failure on this score would be exactly the length of the barrel of a .38.
"S L O W"
The 16th Parker novel, Butcher’s Moon, is more than twice as long most of the master heister’s adventures, and absolutely jammed with the action, violence, and nerve-jangling tension listeners have come to expect. Back in the corrupt town where he lost his money, and nearly his life, in Slayground, Parker assembles a stunning cast of characters from throughout his career for one gigantic, blowout job: starting - and finishing - a gang war. It feels like the Parker novel to end all Parker novels, and for nearly 25 years, that’s what it was.
"Great suspense. Great read."
The Outfit was organized crime with a capital O. They were big. They were bad. They were brutal. And no crook ever crossed them and lived to enjoy it. Except Parker. So they wanted Parker dead, and a hit man proved they meant business. Too bad for the Outfit he missed. Ripping off the Outfit was the easy part of Parker's game. Going one-on-one with Bronson, the Outfit's Big Boss, was the hard part.
"Book 3 Parker is hunted by the mob"
Deadly Edge bids a brutal adieu to the 1960s as Parker robs a rock concert, and the heist goes south. Soon Parker finds himself - and his woman, Claire - menaced by a pair of sadistic, drug-crazed hippies. Parker has a score to settle while Claire’s armed with her first rifle - and they’re both ready to usher in the end of the Age of Aquarius.
"4 ½ stars. Good suspense. Exciting."
The robbery was a piece of cake. The getaway was clean. And seven men were safely holed up in different places while Parker held all the cash. But somehow the sweet heist of a college football game turns sour, Parker's woman is murdered, and the take is stolen. Now Parker's looking for the lowlife who did him dirty, while the cops are looking for seven clever thieves - and Parker must outrun them all. When hunters and hunted meet, some win, some lose….
"Another great Parker novel!"
The Damsel begins directly after the Parker novel The Handle. Following a wounded Grofield and his damsel on a scenic, action-packed road trip from Mexico City to Acapulco, The Damsel is full of wit, adrenaline, and political intrigue.
Not many men knew what Parker did for a living, because what he did was steal. But Joe Sheer, a retired safecracker knew. He knew Parker's alias, his whereabouts, his plans... and because he knew too much, he knew to keep his mouth shut. Or die. But Joe was more than ready to trade what he knew for what every man needs - his freedom. So Parker had come to Nebraska to find the old jugger... and probably murder him. But what Parker found was trouble: Joe was already six feet under.
"Typical Parker with Poorly Chosen Reader"
When he's not carrying out heists with his friend Parker, Alan Grofield runs a small theater in Indiana. But putting on shows costs money and jobs have been thin lately, so Grofield agrees to hear Andrew Myers' plan to knock over a brewery in upstate New York. Unfortunately, the plan is insane, so Grofield walks out. Myers isn't a man you walk out on, and his retribution is an act of unforgivable brutality.
"An entertaining caper / revenge story."
After a traumatic car crash, Grofield gets caught. Lying injured in the hospital, Grofield is visited by G-men who offer him an alternative to jail, and he finds himself forced into a deadly situation involving international criminals and a political conspiracy.