The was my first Donald Westlake (pen name of Richard Stark and so many others.) I've known and heard about Westlake for the past few years since I've made a point to read some of the early creators of the mystery/thriller/P.I. genre.
Westlake passed away in 2008 at the age of 75 after writing almost 100 books.
His writing, which was spectacular in its simplicity, was so clean and clear with no 'fluff' whatsoever.
But Parker, his famous character, is not for everyone since he's is the quintessential anti-hero. Look anti-hero up in the dictionary and Parker's name is there.
Those readers who cannot get past the fact that books published earlier, much earlier than now, and do not reflect the mores, values and culture of today, just pass this book by. It will just make you angry; especially if you're sensitive and want your characters to be perfect.
Parker, I can promise
you is so far from any moral compass; he probably threw that compass out a sixteen story glass window when he was eight years old.
And women, well let me just say he treats stray dogs better. Women get no 'free pass' from him, he's just as tough on them as any man who stands in his way for what's right; not what's morally right, of course, what's rightfully his, in his own mind.
Parker is out for Parker, everyone else be damned and Parker can back up any and all of his threats with those infamous hands which were mentioned throughout the book. That and his ability to think on his feet.
I was so glad to finally read a book by Westlake (Stark) because I've been actively trying to read all of the earlier authors and the characters which are and have been part of our popular mystery/noir/P.I. books and culture for so many years.
There were a number of lines which I wished I had written and here's one:
Talking to his wife who shot him, "She said, "Will you stay in here?" He shook his head. "For you, that tree is dead."
In reading this short dialog, there are so many things said and interpreted that can be understood in reading the book up to that point. When I read those short sentences which were on page 19 in the book I read, I thought to myself, "I really love this guy's writing. Just love it."
With that said, due to Parker not having any moral compass, which I definitely need in the characters I really like, I rather doubt he'll become a favorite character of mine.
However, I can say that this will not be my first and last Westlake. This author was prolific under numerous pen names. And I'm on the lookout for Westlake under any of his names.
By the way, this book was made into a movie staring Lee Marvin and I can see him playing Parker. Marvin's craggy face was the one I saw in my mind's eye while reading the book.
Believe I saw the movie but will watch it again, hopefully in the near future.
Fast, fast read and my only excuse for taking this long was the number of interruptions...interruptions which took me away from my favorite hobby, reading great books and this was one.