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Flashfire: A Parker Novel (Parker Novels) Paperback – August 11, 2011


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Product Details

  • Series: Parker Novels
  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: University Of Chicago Press (August 11, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780226770628
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226770628
  • ASIN: 0226770621
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.2 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #453,344 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Richard Stark's professional criminal, Parker, is so hard-boiled he could make an egg cry. Blunt and matter-of-fact (the less charitable might say cold and calculating), he has perfected the art of theft. Unfortunately, perfection can be a relative term, a concept made vulnerable by the honor--or lack thereof--among thieves. When Parker joins forces with three other crooks to rob a Nebraska bank, he's prepared for a gentlemanly division of the proceeds, not for a double-cross. But his colleagues have other plans for his share: it will be their seed money for a $12 million Palm Beach jewel heist. What's Parker to do but make his own plans to steal the Palm Beach loot from the double- crossers?

Working his way across the Southeast in a series of carefully executed robberies and changes of identity, Parker arrives in Palm Beach, where he finds more barriers along the path of revenge than he could have imagined. Chief among them: a diabolically clever plan by his former partners; a real estate agent named Leslie with an unfortunately sharp sense of character; and a team of professional hit men out for Parker's blood (but why?).

In his third outing after a long retirement by Stark (the pen name of Donald E. Westlake, revered for the comic capers of his bumbling crook, Dortmunder), Parker is in fine form: steely, sardonic, detached. Stark's acidly funny depictions of Palm Beach and its native fauna are a bonus:

Alice Prester Young knew she was a herd animal, and enjoyed the knowledge, because the herd she moved with was the very best herd in all the world. For instance, here she was, at five-thirty this Thursday afternoon, in her chauffeured Daimler, with her new husband, the delicious Jack, to pick up just the perfect jewelry for tonight's pre-auction ball, and she knew when she arrived at the bank she would be surrounded by her own kind, chauffeured and cosseted women with attractive escorts, all coming to the bank (the only bank one could use, really) because this particular bank stayed open late whenever there was an important ball in town, just so the herd could come get its jewelry out of the safe-deposit boxes.
Not to be missed by fans of gritty noir, nor by those who prefer their crime cocktails with a comic twist: Stark and Parker will give you both. --Kelly Flynn --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

If there was a Mohs' scale for the hardness of hard-boiled crime novels, it might be aptly named for Richard Stark. His character, Parker, is just about the coldest, hardest, most resolute professional thief in print today. Some of Parker's actions and calculations are purely chilling. So it's especially ironic, or better, remarkable, that Stark is actually Donald E. Westlake, who is better known for the comic capers of his star-crossed crook, Dortmunder. Here the flint-hard Parker has joined three other pros in robbing a midwestern bank. As soon as they make their getaway, the trio invites Parker to join them in a really big score--$12 million in diamonds from a Palm Beach mansion. Parker opts out, even after they explain that they need his share of the bank robbery as seed money. Righteously angry at being stiffed, Parker resolves to steal the Palm Beach haul from them. Needing his own seed money, Parker stages a series of carefully wrought but violent and brazen robberies. But an accident of poor timing--the kind of unforeseeable accident that usually forces Dortmunder to steal the same thing three times--puts Parker in the gunsights of professional hitmen and threatens his efforts to get more than even with his onetime partners. Diamond-hard crime fiction. Thomas Gaughan
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

The bad guys are interesting characters as well.
Bryan Schingle
Great pacing, great dialogue, no need for speed-reading any part of it, no gratuitous sex ... really a terrific read.
Amazon Customer
Donald E. Westlake's alter ego Richard Stark's Parker character has one of his greatest adventures in Flashfire.
James N Simpson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Charlotte Vale-Allen VINE VOICE on January 12, 2001
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This was my introduction to the work of Richard Stark (aka Donald Westlake) and I just loved Parker. The character is a compelling blend of bad guy with good reason that reminded me powerfully of Patricia Highsmith's Ripley. It's quite a feat to put the reader squarely on the side of someone who, basically, is not a nice person. Highsmith did it; Stark/Westlake has done it, too. The man is a fine writer, with the gift of economy; no unnecessary descriptions, just pure driving narrative and vivid characterizations. I plan to get all the previous Parker books just as soon as I finish writing this review. Highly recommended.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By J. Wan on August 7, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Richard Stark (pseudonym of Donald Westlake) wrote a series of novels concerning the anti-hero Parker. Unlike the typical anti-hero, Parker not only doesn't play by society's rules, he consciously breaks them. He is a professional criminal - a heister in his parlance. He plans and executes complex robberies: banks, jewelry stores, armored cars, and such. Parker is tough, ruthless but professional. He follows very few rules: never let anyone double cross you, kill only if you have to, but when you have to kill do it quickly and move on. The series is notable for the gritty realism, clever schemes and explanations of heists and of course, why they go wrong.

The novels are in two bunches. The group started in the USA of the late 1950's and early 1960's (The Hunter)and ended with Butcher's Moon in 1974. Stark returned to the character with Comeback in 1997. This novel was first published in 2000 and is the third in the second bunch.

Parker is now older and where once he could create a fake identity literally with a ballpoint pen and a few pieces of paper (see The Hunter) he now has to get professional help. In this case, he needs a new ID after a caper goes sour and like his very first adventure, he goes seeking his money from those who took it, ultimately this trail leads to Palm Beach.

The description of Palm Beach suggests Westlake has some familiarity with the area, and the bits of gossipy asides help give the book local color. The plot is clever and well thought through, although the denouement where Parker escapes the bad guys depends a bit on luck and supernatural forethought and planning.

A good book in the series; not too hard for new comers to get into. Worth comparing with The Hunter, The Man with the Getaway Face and The Outfit.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 16, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Donald E. Westlake may be known primarily for his comedic crime novels, particularly the Dortmunder series, but when writing as Richard Stark displays a much darker personality. Stark's Parker novels were on a long sabatical, but in the past few years have come back strong. The latest book has a relatively straight forward plot in which Parker attempts to get even with a crime gang he hooked up with before a parting of the ways. The Parker novels have some humor, but there is no mistaking the hard edge of the lead character who will kill at a moment's notice if things don't go his way. A Parker novel is best described as hard, and this one is no exception. The title refers to the modus operandi used by a crime gang when pulling of bank heists or a really big jewelry job. Parker feels cheated out of his share of the former caper, and plots to get even with his former cronies. Parker needs money to realize his scheme, and goes on a crime spree, netting more money than originally at stake, before heading to Palm Beach, the site of the novel's main action. Some readers may find the crime spree more interesting than the later action. In addition to the main plot, there is a subplot threatening Parker's life that has the potential to change the entire direction of the book.
Fans of Westlake's lighter crime books should definitely check out the Stark novels. Those who saw Mel Gibson in Payback, an early Parker novel may be surprised that Parker is not the anti-hero type, but a flat-out criminal and killer (when necessary).
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on November 8, 2000
Format: Hardcover
About two hundred miles from Omaha, Parker and his three cohorts rob a bank with Parker causing the diversion with a nearby firebomb. After succeeding in this endeavor Parker's partners blithely inform him that they need his share of the loot as seed money to conduct a bigger heist on an island near Palm Beach, Florida. However, his former accomplices make one mistake when they abscond with Parker's portion of the booty, the trio leaves Parker alive.
Besides Parker wanting his money, no one cheats him out of his due so he follows Melander, Carlson, and Ross to Florida. He plans to trump his former friends by doing the jewelry job they were set to perform. However, Parker has also has blundered because someone not only recognizes him, but wants him dead.
FLASHFIRE is an excellent Parker tale that marks the return one of the great anti-heroes in American mystery literature. The story line is entertaining due to the lead character's criminal abilities that Richard Stark effortlessly brings alive in the well-written, fast-paced plot. Fans and new readers will enjoy this tale while seeking out previous books and movies (that both go back to the sixties) of a legendary protagonist.

Harriet Klausner
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