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Firebreak: A Parker Novel (Parker Novels) Paperback – August 15, 2011

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Product Details

  • Series: Parker Novels
  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: University Of Chicago Press (August 15, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226770656
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226770659
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #131,714 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


“Parker . . . lumbers through the pages of Richard Stark’s noir novels scattering dead bodies like peanut shells. . . . In a complex world [he] makes things simple.”
(William Grimes New York Times)

“Whatever Stark writes, I read. He’s a stylist, a pro, and I thoroughly enjoy his attitude."
(Elmore Leonard)

“Richard Stark’s Parker novels . . . are among the most poised and polished fictions of their time and, in fact, of any time.”
(John Banville Bookforum)

“Parker is a true treasure. . . . The master thief is back, along with Richard Stark.”
(Marilyn Stasio New York Times Book Review)

“Westlake knows precisely how to grab a reader, draw him or her into the story, and then slowly tighten his grip until escape is impossible.”
(Washington Post)

“Elmore Leonard wouldn’t write what he does if Stark hadn’t been there before. And Quentin Tarantino wouldn’t write what he does without Leonard. . . . Old master that he is, Stark does all of them one better.”
(Los Angeles Times)

“Donald Westlake’s Parker novels are among the small number of books I read over and over. Forget all that crap you’ve been telling yourself about War and Peace and Proust—these are the books you’ll want on that desert island.”
(Lawrence Block)

“Richard Stark writes a harsh and frightening story of criminal warfare and vengeance with economy, understatement and a deadly amoral objectivity—a remarkable addition to the list of the shockers that the French call roman noirs.”
(Anthony Boucher New York Times Book Review)

"Parker is a brilliant invention. . . . What chiefly distinguishes Westlake, under whatever name, is his passion for process and mechanics. . . . Parker appears to have eliminated everything from his program but machine logic, but this is merely protective coloration. He is a romantic vestige, a free-market anarchist whose independent status is becoming a thing of the past."
(Luc Sante New York Review of Books)

"I wouldn't care to speculate about what it is in Westlake's psyche that makes him so good at writing about Parker, much less what it is that makes me like the Parker novels so much. Suffice it to say that Stark/Westlake is the cleanest of all noir novelists, a styleless stylist who gets to the point with stupendous economy, hustling you down the path of plot so briskly that you have to read his books a second time to appreciate the elegance and sober wit with which they are written."
(Terry Teachout Commentary)

"If you're a fan of noir novels and haven't yet read Richard Stark, you may want to give these books a try. Who knows? Parker may just be the son of a bitch you've been searching for."
(John McNally Virginia Quarterly Review)

"The University of Chicago Press has recently undertaken a campaign to get Parker back in print in affordable and handsome editions, and I dove in. And now I get it."
(Josef Braun Vue Weekly)

"Whether early or late, the Parker novels are all superlative literary entertainments."
(Terry Teachout Weekly Standard)

“The UC Press mission, to reprint the 1960s Parker novels of Richard Stark (the late Donald Westlake), is wholly admirable. The books have been out of print for decades, and the fast-paced, hard-boiled thrillers featuring the thief Parker are brilliant.”
(H. J. Kirchoff Globe and Mail)

About the Author

Richard Stark was one of the many pseudonyms of Donald E. Westlake (1933–2008), a prolific author of crime fiction. In 1993, the Mystery Writers of America bestowed the society’s highest honor on Westlake, naming him a Grand Master.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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See all 18 customer reviews
Light reading but entertaining .
Terrance L. Thrasher
He is all business until the job is over and once the job is on anyone and anything is expendable that stands in the way of his goal.
All of the Parker Novels are great, and this one is no exception.
Kindle Customer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By H. Schneider on May 5, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
When the phone rang, Parker was in the garage, killing a man.

This is how this book starts. The novel is volume 20 of a series of 24, written over a span of 4 decades since the 1960s. All of them start with a similar sentence. When that happened, Parker was just doing this...

That opening habit is the only such mannerism in Stark. The rest is always original, even when each book is about a robbery or more than one.
Crime goes with time. Parker finds it more and more difficult to fill short term small cash needs... Cash has largely gone out of use. More and more cyber crime happens, and 'normal' heists need to add know how of the cyber world to stay ahead of security. The need to involve people with such special knowhow doesn't please Parker. These nerds are risk factors.
In the process, Parker must change his style. He must become more patient with fools and amateurs. That is not good for his perfectionism. He is the planner, the strategist, but mastery of the universe escapes him now.

The subject in Firebreak is a break into the hunting lodge of an Internet mogul... Why go there at all? Not for the golden appliances, those would just cause logistics trouble, but for the hidden vault with art treasures below the lodge, in a basement. Actually, there are paintings that some of the gang had stolen before already, a few years ago from a museum. But how will they sell the goods?
That heist is disturbed by interference from the malevolent past, brought on by hackers. Parker has to force his way of life on a new world. Brave.

This is maybe not Stark's most entertaining Parker, but the first in the lot that reveals doubt about the world as Parker knows it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Dave Wilde on August 10, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
"Firebreak" is the 20th of the 24 Parker novels written by Westlake disguised as Richard Stark. It brings Parker into the modern age of the internet. An internet tycoon has a collection of rare Masters hidden in a secret vault under a hunting lodge in Montana. There's some real money there if you can break through all the electronic protections.

But to get there, Parker has to contend with teams of would-be assassins, one of whom makes it into Parker's home on the lake, the one he shares with Claire. He has to contend with a partner who is a computer genius but is hellbent on getting even with those who betrayed him. And, the guys who brought him into this caper, they tried and failed and the guys who were working with them got caught and are thinking of turning State's evidence. By the time all this is resolved, the resolution of the actual caper doesn't seem so important.

It's a typical Parker novel, taut, sardonic, tough-nosed, gripping. Not the best of the lot as there's a little too much going on, but still a Parker novel and this series has no peers.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jane TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 17, 2013
Format: Audible Audio Edition
FIREBREAK by Richard Stark.

There seemed to be more characters than normal in this book. Toward the end I was confused about some of them. Maybe because a lot was going on in my personal life. Or maybe the book wasn't as good as others in the series.

There are two stories. The better story is about a hit man after Parker. It's a continuation with Paul and Max who Parker met in Bk 12 "The Sour Lemon Score." I loved the scene where Parker gets to them. It reminded me of feelings of fear in the movie "Jaws."

The second story is about stealing art from a hunting lodge in Montana. An interesting part of that story was Parker interacting with a young-computer-hacker-genius. But the rest of the story about the heist was muddled. It might be better read than listened to. Not sure.

I was disappointed that the 2011 Forward by Terry Teachout was in the physical book but not in this audiobook. I've enjoyed all the forwards in this series.

The narrator Stephen R. Thorne was good, but I wish he had a rougher, darker, more menacing voice for Parker. His Parker voice was too clean cut and normal sounding.

This is book 20 in the 24 book series. These stories are about bad guys. They rob. They kill. They're smart. Most don't go to jail. Parker is the main bad guy, a brilliant strategist. He partners with different guys for different jobs in each book.

If you are new to the series, I suggest reading the first three and then choose among the rest. A few should be read in order since characters continue in a sequel fashion. Those are listed below (with my star ratings). The rest can be read as stand alones.

The first three books in order:
4 stars.
Read more ›
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Terrance L. Thrasher on December 9, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition
As always the Parker series doesn't disappoint. Light reading but entertaining . Love the whole series.
Parker is the anti hero and a refreshing change
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer VINE VOICE on November 8, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase

Firebreak starts with Parker being hunted by professional assassins. Parker is contacted by his friend Elkins about a possible job, but must first get himself free of the threat.

Getting free of the hunt is complicated. Parker must first learn who is after him, neutralize them and them discover who paid them to hunt him. This is a long and detailed process full of action and intrigue. Parker encounters major opposition and the result is brutal.

Second, one of the people involved in the new job is hindered by being on bail and needing to wear an electronic "cuff". Lloyd had been betrayed by a partner in a previous job and must be cleared before he can help (he is the electronic genius needed for the new job.

Finally, the new job is to break into a fortified mansion in the wilds of northern Montana. The mansion property contains a lodge with millions of dollars of paintings secured in a heavily fortified vault area. Parker and his crew must break thru the outside security (electronic and armed guards). They must also overcome the protective alarms and break the security codes that keep the artwork in a three room vault with a steel door. The vault is built in the solid rock side of a mountain.

Firebreak is full of action and violence. There are several sub-plots involving the owner of the art, the police forces, and two competing criminal groups - one seeking revenge and the other trying to steal the art from Parker's team. This fast paced crime novel is entertaining and I highly recommend it.
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