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The Outfit: A Parker Novel (Parker Novels) Paperback – September 1, 2008

Book 3 of 24 in the Parker Series

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Editorial Reviews


“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)

“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 romans noirs.”

(Anthony Boucher New York Times Book Review)

“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 Book World)

“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)

“If you’re looking for crime novels with a lot of punch, try the very, very tough novels featuring Parker. . . . The Hunter, The Outfit, The Mourner, and The Man with the Getaway Face are all beautifully paced, tautly composed, and originally published in the early 1960s."

(Christian Science Monitor)

“Parker is refreshingly amoral, a thief who always gets away with the swag.”—Stephen King, Entertainment Weekly

(Stephen King Entertainment Weekly)

“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)

"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 Times)

"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

(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 noir 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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Product Details

  • Series: Parker Novels
  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: University Of Chicago Press; Reprint edition (September 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226771016
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226771014
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #460,591 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Customer Reviews

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See all 43 customer reviews
This is the third installment of the Parker series.
It was how I came to read Richard Stark's "The Hunter," with one of the pen names of the prolific crime fiction writer, Donald Westlake.
Dr. James R. Fisher Jr.
Sure he's heartless, cruel and vindictive but you've just gotta love the rascal.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Untouchable on December 1, 2002
Format: Paperback
The name is Parker and he's not one for making idle threats. When he talks, he follows through with brutal efficiency. And so, when he warned the organised crime boss not to cross him or he would hurt the organisation, it would have been a good idea to listen. What would not have been a good idea was to attempt to put a hit on Parker.
When the hit fails, as of course it must, Parker sets in place a devious plan to hurt the Outfit just as he promised. What follows is a highly entertaining string of crimes around the country, striking blow after blow on behalf of our anti-hero, Parker.
If you're simply after a flat out entertaining book of action sequences that aren't cluttered up with pesky character development, then this is the book for you. As a matter of fact, the entire Parker series is for you. Parker remains the true dispassionate enigma. Sure he's heartless, cruel and vindictive but you've just gotta love the rascal.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By the gunner VINE VOICE on March 12, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The Outfit

"When the woman screamed, Parker awoke and rolled of the bed. He heard the plop
of a silencer behind him as he rolled, and the bullet punched the pillow where his head had been."

"He landed face down on the floor. His stubby , pregnant .32 was clipped to the springs under the bed like a huge black fly standing upside down, and Parker's hand was reaching out for it before he hit the floor"

So begins the Outfit, the third of the Parker books. A series that to date includes:

1) The Hunter (Also published as, "Point Blank")(1963; AKA Point Blank, Payback; Parker, by Richard Stark).
2) The Man with the Getaway Face (Parker Novels)(1963; AKA The Steel Hit; Parker,(1963;
...Read more ›
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By William F. Brown, author on June 27, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Donald E. Westlake was one of the most amazing and perhaps least known American writers of the 20th Century. As unbelievable as it sounds, he was the author of over 100 novels, screenplays, and short story collections written under 14 pen names, both male and female, and his books have been made into 24 movies prior to his death six years ago. I suspect all the pen names are one reason for his relative anonymity compared to dozens of less talented writers with far fewer writing credits. I’m sure he cried all the way to the bank. That said, Westlake was best known for two utterly different series of crime novels. One is the thirteen ‘Dortmunder’ novels — comic capers by a gang of dimwitted and always unlucky crooks. The best of these, and the best of his movies, are “The Hot Rock” and “The Bank Shot.” Read the books or rent the movie. You’ll die laughing. On the other hand, his second series is the 26 ‘Parker’ novels written under the name Richard Stark. ‘Stark’ is also a pretty good description of the lead character, the stories, and the writing. They are well beyond noir. Parker is a brutal, remorseless killer and the stories about him, such as “The Hunter,” the first of them, and “The Outfit,” the third, usually deal with violent crime and revenge. Parker doesn’t believe in ‘proportional response.’ When crossed, he kills everyone in sight and “lets God sort it out;” or he would if he believed in anything except money, which he doesn’t. Unlike Dortmunder, who has many redeeming character traits and is impossible to dislike, Parker has none, zero. No character arc, no quirky habits, no funny sidekick. He is a loner and a humorless killing machine. Some refer to him as an 'anti-hero', but he is none of the sort.Read more ›
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Opa Wayne VINE VOICE on December 14, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The Outfit, otherwise known as the Syndicate, starts this story by trying to kill Parker. The hit man attempts the action while Parker is sleeping, but Parker reverses the action and eliminates the assassin. Such begins Richard Stark's third Parker crime mystery.

Parker is one of my favorite characters. I do not like Parker for his occupation (master criminal and robber) nor for his typical methods (he often kills a few people during his heists). I like Parker's personality and discipline. Parker says little and means exactly what he says (sort of a Clint Eastwood in "spaghetti westerns"). Parker is direct, follows a strict code (targets only the rich and never hurts weak or disadvantaged people), and always acts like a gentleman.

In "The Outfit", Parker decides that he needs to handle his problem with organized crime. So our master planner attempts to cut a deal with the big bosses of crime. When he meets heavy resistence, he decides to change the leadership of the outfit. Can he do it? Can Parker actually cause a revolution within the Outfit and get a better deal from new leaders? Parker's plan is pure genius in its simplicity. Parker knows the weakness in Mob security and exploits it, Parker know what the mob usually plains and devises cleaver way to dismantle security and provide Parker and his partners excelled access to armoires .....

The Outfit is a short book with a lot of action. Richard Stark keeps us "briefed" in all the action. We observe both the planning and the execution of numerous criminal actions. The ongoing suspense continually rivets our attention.

The "Outfit" is a fine mystery filled with plots, schemes, and suspenseful action. I recommend this book.
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