Sunday, 31 October 2010

Ask the Parrot by Richard Stark

Second rate Parker, but still highly enjoyable. You may know Parker as either Walker or Porter depending on whether you've watched Lee Marvin or Mel Gibson mowing his way through a heirarchy of gangsters, looking for his money after being left for dead during a heist gone wrong. The story's known variously as Pointblank, Payback or The Hunter. Stark is one of the pseudonyms of crime legend Donald E Westlake. The name George Stark's also used by Stephen King for his fictional author Thad Beaumont's alter ego in Dark Half, drawing on his own experiences with his Richard Bachman nom de plume. All clear?

Anyway, this is late period Stark - the penultimate before Westlake's death - and starts with Parker on the run in the woods after another heist gone wrong. And gets mixed up in yet another heist. Which goes wrong. The plot unfolds nicely, the bodies stack up and Parker gets to be a hard nosed bastard, though not as much as you'd like.

Some of the plot points are little far fetched. It's probably not a great idea to join in the search for yourself when there's a photofit of you going around. Despite Parker's assurances that you don't get recognised from photofits, it happens to him. Twice.

All the characters are convincing, even the minor ones. Puts me in mind of Elmore Leonard's attention to detail.

I was in the mood for some more pulpy goodness, so I started "There's Something Down There" by Mickey Spillane. Ex CIA agent v possible sea monster? Too trashy even for my lowbrow tastes. Gone for some Simon Schama instead.

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