cover image Comeback


Richard Stark. Mysterious Press, $17.5 (292pp) ISBN 978-0-89296-661-5

Donald E. Westlake is having a good year: The Ax (Forecasts, Apr. 21), is off and running; he'll soon be crowned with Anthony Life Achievement honors. Now, after a 23-year hiatus (since Butcher's Moon), he gives us his 21st book in the now legendary Parker series, written under his Richard Stark pseudonym. Parker's return is one of the most striking achievements in Westlake's long and varied career. Energy and imagination light up virtually every page, as does some of the best hard-boiled prose ever to grace the noir genre. Parker and his longtime lady friend, Claire, are enjoying their New Jersey lakeside home, Parker ""being someone whose work let him stay at home for periods of time and then took him away sometimes."" That cool understatement crystallizes Stark's style: Parker's ""work,"" of course, consists of being a very good, often very violent, professional thief. His latest job makes him part of a plan to remove a large sum of cash from a glossy TV preacher named William Archibald. But the heist goes wrong from the start and turns into a tense, chaotic ballet of betrayal and death. One of Parker's partners is a weak babbler, another is a cold traitor. Archibald's security chief, an ex-marine, is a tenacious pursuer, intent on getting back his employer's money. Along the way, readers learn how to hide crooks, cars and cash in a small city with an efficient police force; how to escape from a variety of traps and sealed rooms; and, most of all, how Parker has managed to stay alive--in readers' minds as well as in the brain of his creator--for all these years. (Oct.)