Every aspiring writer, whether or not they like crime fiction, should read “Richard Stark” (Donald Westlake)’s Parker series. Not because the books are good, though they are. But because Westlake, like other great writers, has crisp, lean prose that lends itself to the telling of a story. Not a word is wasted. And no matter what kind of story you write, if you write it like this, you’ll never halt narrative momentum.
The story itself is fun enough but tough to recall with 250+ words. Parker novels aren’t really books you fall into. You jump in, enjoy the world, and before you get too settled, it’s over. Usually with a heist involved, since those are Parker’s métier.
This is only the second Parker book I’ve read and I enjoyed it a lot, perhaps even more so than The Outfit. A heist goes well but falters in the aftermath and Parker needs to find out why. The suspense builds and builds as the revelations come until the white knuckle conclusion. You likely surmise that Parker will be fine since there are dozens of these books. But it keeps moving to the bitter end.
The only real criticism I have of this is, you probably guessed it, the female characters. There are some not so nice things that happen to them, nor are they given much detail or agency. I know, I know, It was the times, etc. I don’t retroactively assign “woke points” to books of years past. But I do think it’s important to point these shortcomings out because they have historically reinforced misogyny and we can work to do better so future generations of women and femmes don’t have to deal with it.
Otherwise, this is a fun book and a great gateway to the series if you’re looking to dive in.