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Breakout Hardcover – November 20, 2002

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Mysterious Press; First Edition edition (November 20, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 089296779X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0892967797
  • Product Dimensions: 7.6 x 5.3 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #570,396 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

Tired of do-gooder heroes saving the day? Meet Parker--just Parker to you, bub--a one-man wrecking crew, cunning, fearless, and more than just a little cold-blooded. Writing again under hard-boiled alter-ego Richard Stark, Mystery Writers of America Grand Master Donald E. Westlake returns to the violent world of his legendary criminal creation with Breakout.

This time around Parker has picked certain members of his crew wrong and the job goes south right into the county lockup. Alone and isolated, the antihero finds himself without much wiggle room. But experienced Stark readers know, wiggling is what the slippery Parker does best. In Breakout, he wiggles himself out of jail and right into an even more dangerous situation involving an armory, a tunnel, and a jewelry wholesaler.

While there are rough spots here and there, Breakout is simply another fun-to-read Parker novel, taking readers again to the flip side where the bad guys win and the good guys are never as good as they should be. Call it a great escape because, with this Parker novel in particular, that's just what it is. --Jeremy Pugh

From Publishers Weekly

This fifth book about master criminal Parker since his welcome return from a 20-year hiatus is packed so tightly with the painstaking details of everything from the dank tedium of prison life to the architecture and construction of a Midwestern shopping complex that it comes as a shock to realize the volume isn't bigger than it is. Stark, the nom de crime adopted for this series by MWA Grand Master Donald Westlake, is an artist of compression, with the ability to create a complex, frightening character in very few words. Of an Asian lawyer visiting Parker in prison, he writes, "Li was amused, not by Parker in particular but by his own entire life; it made him easy to be around, but suggested there were circumstances when he might not be completely reliable." But Stark is also remarkable because he seems to know how everything works and can explain it without slowing down the story. Stuck in a fortress-like holding prison "on the outskirts of the only large city in this big empty midwestern state" after a robbery goes bad, Parker links up with two other prisoners in a totally logical way, then plans a breakout (the first of several in the book) so credible that we're swept up in its mechanics. But before he can return to his haven in rural New Jersey, Parker has to pay off the help he received by taking part in another robbery that falls apart in a different way that's just as exhilarating. Watching artists like Stark and Parker at work is a great pleasure, which an increasing audience will be delighted to share.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Breakout is an excellent story with lots of suspense and thrilling action.
W. Easley
I had to stop and read Part Two of BREAKOUT over again, twice, just to get a feeling for how the job was done.
The latest Parker book by Richard Stark (Donald Westlake) is a series of breakouts and breakins.
A. M. Sulkin

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By James N Simpson on February 24, 2006
Format: Paperback
This is another quick and simple Parker adventure by Donald E Westlake writing under his pen name Richard Stark. Whilst there are certainly better Parker adventures where the reader gets to see Parker's skills in action, in Breakout the reader gets to see just how intelligent this criminal is. If you haven't checked out Westlake's novels under his own name definitely do so as well. His masterpiece The Ax as well as Corkscrew and the Scared Stiff are all great places to start. Short chapters make putting down Breakout when you have to a breeze.

In Breakout Parker is behind bars in the overcrowded Stoneveldt, a transit prison for those awaiting trial and the probable outcome of an even worse actual jail. Although the authorities can't work out who he actually is they do know one of his alter egos killed a prison guard and escaped from a California prison so it won't be long before he's extradited there. This is not a place Parker wants to go so he must escape Stoneveldt, where no one else has ever done so before. Stoneveldt isn't the only place he will have to escape from before leaving town.

If you like Westlake as Richard Stark or himself also check out James Pattinson (Pattinson not Patterson), a British author who writes very similar novels.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By P. Falina on November 29, 2002
Format: Hardcover
One of the other customer reviews made the point that the Stark / Parker and Westlake / Dortmunder books are in fact the same books. I think that's a little over simplified, but I have to admit that there's more than a little truth in that suggestion. Toward the end of BREAKOUT, I thought, "Good grief, this is THE HOT ROCK!" That's also over simplified, but you get the idea.
In THE HUNTER, Stark mentioned in passing that Parker was once arrested as a vagrant, and escaped from a work farm by killing a guard. This is the record, as Ronald Kasper, but with Parker's own prints, that dogs him, although it's by no means his last killing, on or off record.
This time out, Parker participates in a pharmaceutical heist that goes wrong. Unlike so many other times, he isn't allowed to disappear into the woods or down a convenient, unwatched alley. He goes, not strictly to jail, but to a "detention center", where suspected felons wait before and during trail. This is essentially the same kind of less-structured environment that Dortmunder wrestles with in THE HOT ROCK.
Parker is visited by a court-appointed lawyer, and manages to get a message to his long-time squeeze, Claire. Presto, a more clued-in attorney shows up, and things begin to roll. Ed Mackey, previously involved in Parker escapades, drops in to show his gratitude for past favors, and assists Parker in identifying fellow prisoners who might be useful in an escape.
They escape, and then Parker becomes involved with outsiders who assisted in the escape, who have a jewelry heist to pull. The heist goes down, and goes bad; Parker survives with his two fellow escapees, but must then break out of the converted armory that the jewels were stored in.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Larry VINE VOICE on March 2, 2004
Format: Paperback
Parker, the antihero thief of Richard Stark (AKA Donald Westlake) is one of my favorite creations. The books are always written with one caper or problem to be solved. This usually includes a set up of a robbery then problems develop. The fun is to see how Parker solves the problems and keeps out of jail.
BREAKOUT is a bit of a departure from this formula in that Parker is arrested and jailed in the first chapter. He must try to figure out a way out of, not only jail, but out of town. He is paired with the usual miscreants in which it is difficult to determine who is trustworthy.
The book is, as usual, relatively brief, yet always compelling. It can be read in one lengthy sitting. Parker is a cold-blooded thief and killer, yet, Stark breathes such life into him that the reader cannot fail to root for his success. A truly fun read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By sweetmolly on December 30, 2002
Format: Hardcover
It goes without saying that a Richard Stark "Parker" story is read at one sitting. Fortunately for the reader (or the sittee, if you will), the books are rarely longer than 300 pages. It's manageable. The writing is as spare and smooth as fine leather holster and concise as a Hemingway vignette.
Parker gets nailed in a pharmaceutical robbery gone south. He is detained by the law in a fortress like detention center situated in the flatlands. This is desperate times for Parker who has escaped from a prison in the distant past and killed a guard in the process. He must escape and does in most ingenious manner. He is coerced (against his better judgment) into a jewelry heist that involves tunneling into an impregnable armory. It is all in the finely engineered details that enchant us. How they get in. More important, how they get out. It isn't Parker's lucky day. He has to get another confederate out of jail. Surprising to me, Parker and crew take some hostages. (I'm surprised because I think of Parker as a "take no prisoners" type.) By this time, Parker has been trapped so many times through no fault of his own, all he wants is to get back to Jersey in one piece. Will he make it? Of course he will.
People always wonder why they have this fondness for Parker, a cold-blooded outlaw with no remorse and no friends, only "associates." For me it's easy. I feel safe with Parker. Wherever he goes, he has to take me, the reader, and he will think for both of us. "Breakout" is fine vintage Parker and even goes a tad beyond his usual high standards.
-sweetmolly-Amazon Reviewer
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