Tuesday 3 March 2009


Richard (Donald Westlake) Stark's Parker is a character I know by reputation and until now I had never read any of the books that people so rave about. Anyway I recently purchased the new Alison&Busby edition (which is not the one pictured) of Point Blank, originally titled The Hunter.

Now I kinda' knew what to expect from the book - I'd seen the both the Mel Gibson and Lee Marvin movies based on the book. I started reading it last night and I finished it after a second sitting about ten minutes ago.

All I can say is, wow!

"The funnies call it the syndicate. The goons and hustlers call it the Outfit. You call it the Organization..But I don't care if you call yourselves the Red Cross, you owe me forty-five thousand dollars and you'll pay me back whether you like it or not."

To say the character of Parker is relentless is something of an understatement - is there a nastier, more cruel anti-hero in all of fiction?

The Parker books are widely considered classics and any thoughts I have on the character are redundant but I will say I bloody loved the book and have just ordered two more Stark/Parkers.

Excellent stuff


David Cranmer said...

The followups: THE MAN WITH THE GETAWAY FACE and THE OUTFIT keep the action going when you get a chance. THE HUNTER is superior, of course, to the films but I thought the Marvin and Gibson movies did fairly well.

Fred Blosser said...

I was a big Parker fan around 1969-71 when most of the books had gone out of print, and I spent lots of time in used bookstores to find copies. POINT BLANK is an excellent film that turns the novel into an exercise in absurdism. PAYBACK suffered from turning the character into Mel Gibson and needlessly amping up the action with typical Hollywood overkill. The other two novels mentioned by David complete a sort of trilogy with THE HUNTER. Incidentally, Brian Garfield dedicated his 1971 Western novel GUN DOWN (later filmed as THE LAST HARD MEN) to Westlake and Parker.

Charles Gramlich said...

I've got to get ahold of some of these books. What would you recommend for an introduction to STark?

Iren said...

I recently also read The Hunter and enjoyed it. What I like about the Stark books (i've also read Lemon's Never Lie and Butchers Moon) is the caper/heist aspect of the stories and the fact that Parker is the king of 'Always Stay on Message' when it comes to pulling jobs. I have THE MAN WITH THE GETAWAY FACE and THE OUTFIT in my read soon pile, and the next three of the Parker books will be back in print in May.

Charles: Best place to start? I'd go with The Hunter or Lemons Never Lie. The Hunter because it's the start of the Parker cycle, Lemon's because it's in print (from Hard Case Crime) and it's not a Parker book, but follows Parker's sometimes partner Grofield and gives a good look at another aspect of the Stark style.

Gary Dobbs/Jack Martin said...

Charles -this is the only obne I've yet read but as it's the first I'd start here - the books is avaiable under three titles hunter, point blank and payback.

Anonymous said...

The U of Chicago Press are reissuing the series three per season. The next three come out in April/May - The Jugger, The Mourner, and The Score


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