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Comeback: A Parker Novel (Parker Novels) Paperback – April 15, 2011

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Editorial Reviews Review

The frighteningly prolific mystery writer Donald E. Westlake, a.k.a. Richard Stark, ended his legendary series of books about a career criminal known only as Parker with 1974's Butcher's Moon. He cited too much competition from copycats in print, on film, and on television. Persuaded by fans and family, Westlake has resurrected Parker with a welcome burst of energy and imagination. The felon and his long-time lady friend Claire are enjoying the quiet life in their New Jersey lakeside home when Parker's invited to become part of a plan to remove a large sum of cash from a glossy TV-preacher named William Archibald. It's a heist that 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 a cold traitor. Archibald's security chief is a tenacious pursuer, intent on retrieving his employer's money. Along the way, we 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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

This novel represents a kind of star turn for Donald E. Westlake, kind of like in 1968, when Wilt Chamberlain decided to lead the NBA in assists instead of scoring, just to demonstrate total mastery of his world. Writing as Richard Stark, Westlake has rested his immensely popular, hilariously star-crossed thief, Dortmunder, to resurrect Parker, one of the coldest, hardest, most resolute SOBs ever to appear in noir. In Comeback, Parker teams up with two men and a woman to steal $400,000 in small bills from a sleazy televangelist's "Christian Crusade." The heist goes off perfectly--until one of the crew attempts to eliminate his partners to claim the whole score. Parker's innate calculation and mistrust save his life. His sense of criminal realpolitik requires him to hunt down and kill his traitorous former partner. Structurally, the novel resembles a Dortmunder caper; the well-laid plans of a highly professional criminal go awry, and the crook-hero must improvise a bookful of stratagems to finally possess what he set out to steal. But the similarity ends there. The voice, feel, and characterizations here are gritty and chillingly noir, as different from Westlake's comic novels as Miss Marple is from Mike Hammer. Wilt startled the NBA with his turn, and Westlake/Stark is likely to do the same--at least for those who know only the Dortmunder books. For the rest of us, he succeeds in demonstrating his total mastery of crime fiction. Thomas Gaughan --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Series: Parker Novels
  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: University Of Chicago Press; Reprint edition (April 15, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780226770581
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226770581
  • ASIN: 0226770583
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.9 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #312,264 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By James N Simpson on March 1, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Donald E. Westlake's alter ego Richard Stark's Parker character is back along with Mackey and Brenda from other Parker classics. Comeback is another can't put down until the final page easy to read action packed thriller. Comeback is a novel both fans of and new readers to Westlake under his or his pen name Stark will read over and over again. Short chapters make putting it down when you reluctantly have to a breeze as well. As well as other Parker adventures also check out under Westlake's own name his masterpiece solution to being unemployed, The Ax. His novels Corkscrew and the Scared Stiff are also brilliant!

In Comeback Parker, Mackey and Brenda team up with a villain named Liss whose parol officer Tom Carmody dresses up as an angel as part of a Christian con artist Evangelist stadium show. Carmody is disillusioned that the reverend is not giving the money to the needy but spending it on himself and wants to rob the production of its $400 000 in gate takings to give to the poor. Of course Liss, Parker, Mackey and Brenda have no intention of splitting the money with Carmody, in fact Liss has no intention of letting his colleagues live which of course Parker can not let him get away with. Further complicating the matter are a group of low intelligent young guys who think they can just take the money from the gang. Ex marine but equally low intelligence head of security for the Christian Festival also makes this great novel even more exciting!
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer VINE VOICE on October 5, 2007
Format: Paperback
Professional thief Parker returns in this suspenseful tale of a caper gone wrong. Parker, with fellow thieves Liss and Mackey, conspires to rob the coffers of the Christian Crusade, part of the ministry of the Reverend William Archibald. Despite some last minute nerves on the part of their inside man, the robbery proceeds smoothly, and the trio makes off with nearly half a million dollars in cash.

After the crooks go to ground, one of their number tries to rob the rest. An ever wary Parker foils this attempt but fails to subdue his former ally. Parker and the remaining gang member must evade the traitor, the police, and Reverend Archibald's minions to escape with their lives and the money.

Comeback, Richard Stark's (aka Donald E. Westlake's) first Parker novel after an almost unendurable twenty three year hiatus, is a hard boiled novel of suspense comparable to the other highly entertaining entries in this series. Told using Stark's trademark framework--three quarters of the novel is from Parker's point of view, one quarter from the individual points of view of all the other principal characters--the novel delivers all the action, violence and surprises fans of this series have come to expect. Stark and Parker--perfect together!
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By the gunner VINE VOICE on November 14, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase

Comeback is significant because Donald Westlake, writing as Richard Stark came back to writing Parker novels after a hiatus of some twenty years or so. I say welcome back.

Thiis story is ripped from today's headlines. A TV evangelist who uses a stadium to preach from has an "Angel" who is unhappy with all the money being raised and spent on the preacher himself. Can you say Altanta Mega churches? Any how, as usual the heist doesn't go exactly as planned. I particularly like the part where the preacher pays Parker a thousand dollars to find and recover his money.

As far as I can tell the other Parker books are:
1) The Hunter (1963; AKA Point Blank, Payback; Parker, by Richard Stark).
2) The Man With the Getaway Face (1963; AKA The Steel Hit; Parker,
3) The Outfit (1963; Parker, by Richard Stark)
4) The Mourner (1963; Parker, by Richard Stark)
5) The Score (1964; AKA Killtown; Parker, by Richard Stark)
6) The Jugger (1965; Parker, by Richard Stark)
7) The Seventh (1966; AKA The Split; Parker, by Richard Stark)
8) The Handle (1966; AKA Run Lethal; Parker, by Richard Stark)
9) The Rare Coin Score (1967; Parker, by Richard Stark)
10) The Green Eagle Score (1967; Parker, by Richard Stark)
11) The Black Ice Score (1968; Parker, by Richard Stark)
12) The Sour Lemon Score (1969; Parker, by Richard Stark)
13) Slayground (1971; Parker, by Richard Stark)
14) Deadly Edge (1971; Parker, by Richard Stark)
15) Plunder Squad (1972; Parker, by Richard Stark)
16) Butcher's Moon (1974; Parker, by Richard Stark)
17) Comeback (1997;
18) Backflash (1998; Parker)..
19) Flashfire (2000; Parker, by Richard Stark)..
20) Firebreak (2001; Parker, by Richard Stark) ..
21) Nobody Runs Forever (2004) Parker, by Richard Stark

Highly recommended for Parker fans and fans of action adventure stories.

Gunner November, 2007
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Matt Hetling on September 2, 2005
Format: Paperback
Professional thief Parker is taken to task as he finds himself in the middle of a robbery gone wrong.

As in many other books, the eminently practical Parker is betrayed by a fellow thief, and the betrayal puts all of them at heightened risk.

Parker displays a wide array of skills in this book, and I would have to put it near the top of the list of the half dozen Parker adventures I have read.

The trademarks are all there; the tightly paced action, the unexpected but believable plot twists, and the flowing narrative that keep us turning pages.

The story begins with a planned armed robbery of a traveling preacher, whose religious showmanship has built up an enterprise worth millions. After things go wrong, Parker finds himself adrift in a small town where a stranger like himself is bound to be questioned. He's in conflict with the locals, a couple of other thieves, and a worthy opponent in the religious organization's security chief. His goal is to get the money, and get out of town.

At different points of the book, Parker finds himself alone and unprotected in two different enemy camps, and his always-innovative actions have never been more fascinating. His brand of cold-blooded practicality, fueled by a mind specially trained to see all the angles, is a thrill to read about.

If you haven't read a Parker novel yet, this is a good one to cut your teeth on, and if you're a fan who's deciding on your next read, prioritize Comeback. It's Stark at his best.
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