You know: in a foolish, undiscriminating way, I've been happy these last few months. I don't know why. I just am. I love my friends; I love my pupils; I love what I read; I -- dammit -- love my thoughts. I love the taste of oranges.
Thornton Wilder in a letter to Gertrude Stein, Aug 14, 1936

Saturday, October 29, 2011


This was my first Parker novel and I am a convert. Never a fan of police procedurals, I was seduced in the first pages by this "crime procedural."

Parker is a good criminal -- in this instance a thief. I am not sure what additional talents he may exhibit in other novels. He is not an anti-hero along the lines of Patricia Highsmith's Ripley or TV's Dexter. I did not watch Parker with the mix of disbelief, horror, and pleasure I do those other characters. Parker is simply a criminal who gets away with things because he is smarter and when necessary more brutal than those around him. Those around him are often sleazy, but that doesn't mean "they have it coming to them." Some are pathetically naive, and some a downright stupid. Parker is intelligent and anything but naive. Sleazy? Is there not something inherently sleazy about stealing $400,000 from a traveling evangelist, knowing all along that your inside man on the job will be killed or at the very least never see his share of the money?

If Parker took a bullet and died in one of these stories, I suppose the world would be an infinitesimally better place. But we, the citizens, would be denied the pleasure of watching Richard Stark, one of the late Donald Westlake's several pseudonyms, practice his impeccable craft.

As Billy Preston would say

I got a story ain't got no moral
Let the bad guy win every once and awhile

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