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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Parker's Ultimate Caper
Richard Stark ( Donald E Westake) gives us the ultimate in heists with this terrific early Parker novel. When Parker hears of a plan to rob an entire town, he's leery of the inside man and the number of thieves needed to pull off the caper. Nevertheless he is brought into the scheme and together with 11 other fellow thieves, they pull off the dream caper until the...
Published on February 10, 2001 by Larry Eischen

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An Old Fashioned Crime Story
I listened to this story as an audiobook, narrated by Stephen R. Thorne, so my review is based on that version.

This story is about a gang of thieves working out a heist. Each person in the heist has a specific job they are to do and the job will be planned down to the last detail. Parker is the main crook of the bunch and the others defer to his knowledge and...
Published on March 17, 2012 by Squeak


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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Parker's Ultimate Caper, February 10, 2001
This review is from: The Score (Audio Cassette)
Richard Stark ( Donald E Westake) gives us the ultimate in heists with this terrific early Parker novel. When Parker hears of a plan to rob an entire town, he's leery of the inside man and the number of thieves needed to pull off the caper. Nevertheless he is brought into the scheme and together with 11 other fellow thieves, they pull off the dream caper until the double cross inevitable in a Parker novel. In the meantime, the inside man acts on the plan that he formed for vengeance. Grofield (Stark's actor/thief) falls for a hostage and a teen leaving a night of passion at his girlfriend's after curfew also throw monkey wrenches into the story. When the team makes it to their hideout after several deaths and an inferno, it further unravels as the group waits out the police search. This is Stark at his finest. Granted it's a little dated and the plan wouldn't work today. The townfolk have to place out-of-town calls through operators at a central switchboard and the switchboard operators are covered by the team. Imagine the problems in today's cellular world. Nevertheless, this pulls together several of Parker's cronies from previous capers and introduces new ones. We get the usual scenes of plan, payoff,doublecross and Parker's efforts to escape the consequences of the doublecross. These are set pieces in any Parker novel and Stark works them like a pro. If you're just discovering Parker through his new capers, this is a must have from the original series.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Robbery of a Town, May 9, 2004
By 
Untouchable (Sydney, NSW Australia) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Score (Hardcover)
Donald Westlake is probably best known for his humorous crime novels. His books featuring John Dortmunder, a fatalistic thief, are hilarious capers making light of the world of criminals. The series that he writes under the pseudonym Richard Stark is probably a little less well known. This series features an anti-hero protagonist by the name of Parker and is very much in the hardboiled category and the world of criminals is portrayed as a dark, dangerous underground of professionals. THE SCORE is the 5th book in the Parker series, a series that is a little bit unusual in that it takes the role of the professional criminal and, to a certain extent, glamorises it.
As THE SCORE opens, Parker is in New York for a meeting to consider the prospects of an upcoming job. On the way to the meeting he notices he is being followed. The ruthless way in which he deals with his pursuer and then the way he is completely unaffected by the encounter is an early indication of the kind of cold-hearted guy he is.
A plot has been hatched to knock over an entire town and Parker is asked to run the show. The proposition appears ludicrous at first glance. The fact that the man presenting the plan is an amateur sets off all sorts of alarm bells in Parker's head. But the lucrative nature of the proposed heist lures Parker in to make a few adjustments to the plans before he agrees that the job can be done.
Parker decides that it will take 12 men to go into the North Dakota mining town of Copper Canyon, open the safes of the town's businesses including the mining company safe which will be holding that week's payroll. They will also be opening the vault of the town's only bank for good measure.
The one-night crime spree in the town of Copper Canyon takes place with the whole operation running like clockwork...almost. It wouldn't be much fun if Parker and his crew didn't encounter any problems and the way in which Parker handles these problems speaks volumes for the `ice in the blood' way he approaches ay crisis.
The Parker books all tend to follow the same general template of plan, prepare, execute and getaway. Add to that the required plan changes due to unforeseen circumstances, such as a gang member going postal for instance, and another Parker story is complete. The style of Richard Stark is abrupt, like Parker himself. If it doesn't pertain directly to the job at hand, it isn't mentioned in the book. This lack of detail holds true when talking about such things as the background of the characters, although they are each given a thumbnail sketch, but when it comes to the planning and actually carrying out of the robbery, the detail is incredibly complete. I find that this is the strength of the Parker books and the reason that I keep coming back for more.
Parker is not the hero of this series. I mentioned in the opening that he is the anti-hero and I believe this is the most appropriate way to describe him. He is a cold, calculating criminal who would not hesitate to shoot you if you posed any threat to him or his operation. That being said, you can't help but admire the professional way in which he goes about his business.
THE SCORE was first published in 1964 and so the technology used in the heist is dated and there is no way they would get away with it in this modern world. But when you put it into the context of the time in which it was written Stark / Westlake has done a terrific job of turning a seemingly ridiculous idea into a plausible robbery, bringing up major obstacles and then having Parker and his team come up with ingenious solutions.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The ultimate anti-hero, December 17, 2009
By 
Tim Niland (New Jersey, USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Score: A Parker Novel (Parker Novels) (Paperback)
Master thief and anti-hero Parker is getting antsy and bored. So when the call comes offering him a chance to head up to Jersey City to hear about a potential job he takes it. And what a job it is - the plan is to immobilize an entire small North Dakota town and rob it blind. Even for somebody like Parker, who has ice water in his veins, this is an audacious plan. Can a dozen men really take out an entire town and get away with the loot? This was another exciting fast-paced Parker adventure, Stark (aka Donald Wastlake) takes us through the planning, the heist and then the moment it all goes pear-shaped. Parker is such a refreshing character because he has no pretenses or morals that get in the way of the crackling plot. The plot is fast paced and the dialogue is sharp and fun. It's easy to see how the series lasted as long as it did, with the wealth of detail and Stark's mastery of the form.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stealing a Town, February 10, 2011
By 
Amazon Customer "Opa" (Colorado Rocky Mountains) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
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This review is from: The Score: A Parker Novel (Parker Novels) (Paperback)
The Score is Parker's most ambitious heist yet. The idea was presented by a man who knew about a town in North Dakota that he thought ideal for a big score. The town, Copper Canyon, is accessible by only one highway, has an enforced nighttime curfew, and has several easy targets for robbery: a mine payroll, two banks and several stores with large daily receipts.

Parker's first reaction was to pass on this job as it would require a large crew, and the single highway could be a trap that prohibits escape. In addition the person with the idea seems to be a novice. After careful consideration, Parker's team wants the job and he reluctantly agrees.

Essentially, Parker has to manage a caper that requires control of an entire town. He must determine how to neutralize the small police force and fire department, overcome the mine's security, prevent anyone in the town from calling for help, and find an escape plan to avoid arrest. Parker conceives a plan to meet all requirements with only a twelve men crew.

The Score is a fast paced, action filled crime novel. Observing these experts plan and execute a complex maneuver to temporarily control and loot an entire town is impressive. The plan is believable and exciting. The execution is almost flawless. The only trouble will probably haunt Parker for years. I recommend this novel.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An Old Fashioned Crime Story, March 17, 2012
I listened to this story as an audiobook, narrated by Stephen R. Thorne, so my review is based on that version.

This story is about a gang of thieves working out a heist. Each person in the heist has a specific job they are to do and the job will be planned down to the last detail. Parker is the main crook of the bunch and the others defer to his knowledge and skill in setting up the heist. Initially the original heist, to knock off all the big places in one town, is shot down by Parker as too risky. Eventually Parker gives in and starts to work out all the details for the job.

This book was originally written in 1964, so it is the equivalent of watching an old black and white movie. It was kind of fun to take a trip down memory lane. These guys were out to steal thousands of dollars (not millions) and they don't have use of cell phones, internet, or video cameras.

The gang is going to go into this town and take control of the telephone switchboard during the job, so no one will be able to call out of the town for help. (There are ladies actually sitting and physically patching phone calls through via a switchboard! LoL) As with all best laid plans of mice and men, things seem to go alright until a couple of the guys start doing their own thing during the heist. Then the band of thieves has big problems.

I enjoyed listening to the story, but it is not anywhere near the level of suspense that today's novels have. Also, this story was written in a way that the descriptions of rooms, cars, or insignificant other things were almost too detailed. Little things were pointed out that had no bearing on the story. Could just be the style of this writer, since this is the first book I have read of Donald Westlake's I am not sure.

This was the 5th book in the Parker series. I have not read or listened to any of the others and it did not take away from my enjoyment of the book. If I didn't know it was a series, I wouldn't have guessed. The ending ended at a logical place and not as a cliff hanger, so this could definitely be read (or listened to) as a standalone story.

The Narration Review
This audiobook was narrated by Stephen R. Thorne. I think he did a great job with the character voices in this story. He has great articulation and intonation and I was able to easily identity the different voices as they spoke making it very easy to immerse myself in the story.

** Note **
I received this audiobook free from AudioGo in exchange for an honest review. I received no chocolate or any other compensation in exchange for my review.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Procedural, November 18, 2011
By 
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This review is from: The Score: A Parker Novel (Parker Novels) (Paperback)
Quote
You can steal in this country, you can rape and murder, you can bribe public officials, you can pollute the morals of the young, you can burn your place of business down for the insurance money, you can do almost anything you want, and if you act with just a little caution and common sense you will never even be indicted. But if you don't pay your income tax, you will go to jail.
Unquote
Page 73. First published 1964.
Richard Stark/Donald Westlake has written a whole series of crime procedurals around Parker, the man without a first name. Not police procedurals, but robbery procedurals, written from the perspective of the perpetrator. This is all highly immoral and very entertaining.
In the Score, volume 5 of the series, Parker robs a whole little mining town in North Dakota. The job isn't what he normally does. It is larger and more complex and involves more people. What you get with this novel is a guideline for project team organization. If you are into industrial project management, you can learn something here, besides the entertainment.
On the other hand, while the job is more complex, the novel is fairly straightforward and uncomplex, hence I would rate it a bit lower than some of the others in the series.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Why Not Just Take Over A Whole Town?, July 23, 2014
This review is from: The Score (Audible Audio Edition)
“The Score” is number five with a bullet of the twenty-four Parker novels provided to us by Mr. Donald Westlake, writing as Richard Stark. It was first published in 1964, but doesn’t feel dated. Parker, who by now is almost the king of thieves, is asked to run an operation that requires twenty-four men. Although Parker knocks it down to a dozen men, it still is quite an operation. Nothing like this has ever been done before. They are going to take over a small North Dakota mining town, Copper Canyon, a town with only one road in or out and one railroad in or out. In order to pull this off and pilfer the banks on the main street and the plant, they have to take over the police station, the fire station, and the telephone exchange. They also have to have a hideout nearby. Luckily, the guy who came to Parker with the idea, although a bit of an amateur, is familiar with the town and the setup.

A large portion of the book is consumed with getting all the players in motion and setting up the heist. By the middle of the book, one wonders if it will be contained in one volume or spread out over successive volumes, but Stark (Westlake) fits it all in. Somehow his writing, which is sparse and careful, takes the reader on this journey very aptly and even the long set-up of the operation is not dull.

Once the operation gets underway, all kinds of excitement breaks out and, despite the number of players involved, it is not hard to follow or to understand who is who. Of course, even the smoothest of operations has a few wrinkles and this one, despite how well-planned and well-executed, nearly blows up in Parker’s face.

Grofield, one of Parker’s accomplices, who is a Shakespearean actor on the side, is introduced to the reader in this volume. Grofield later goes no to star in four novels of his own (The Dame, The Damsel, The Blackbird, and Lemons Never Lie). The suave, cultured, ladies’ man is quite a character and does a few unexpected things.

All in all, another terrific novel in the Parker series. The smooth, professional style that these books are written in makes it almost seem as if it were effortless by the writer (Stark/Westlake).

The audio version of this book is read expertly and is highly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You Always Score a Great Read With a Westlake (Richard Stark) Novel!, September 7, 2009
By 
James N Simpson (Gold Coast, QLD Australia) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Score: A Parker Novel (Parker Novels) (Paperback)
You could argue that there are other Parker novels which beat this at being the best but you'd be pushing it to find a crime caper Parker did that was better than the one in The Score. This novel has also previously been published in some markets under the title Killtown. You don't need to have read the previous novels to enjoy The Score as a standalone read but this book gives away the ending of the previous Parker novel The Mourner and that book gave away plots from the first three, which incidentally are in order - The Hunter, The Man with the Getaway Face (aka The Steel Hit) and The Outfit. So it's a good idea to start with the Hunter.

In The Score Parker is brought into a plan suggested by an amateur named Edgars. Edgars has a plan involving about 30 men to rob the payroll of a major business, banks, jewellery stores and everything else in a small North Dakotan town. The town has only one road in, has a night curfew and if they can secure the telephone exchange, police and fire stations then there shouldn't be anyone else around to even see, let alone stop them. Parker immediately sees the foolishness of Edgar's plan dismisses it, but something inside his professional criminal mind can't help but think about it and eventually point out to the others how it could work. He's also bored so eventually decides to take control of the caper and actually do this, rob the entire town of Copper Canyon! Only he doesn't need or want 30 men, he'll do it with twelve! Of course it wouldn't be much fun, if unforseen events, didn't pop up.

It's great to see publishers such as University of Chicago Press republishing old classics such as Westlake's originally published in 1964 Parker novel The Score. They've actually republished quite a number of his novels from the start of his under Richard Stark pen name Parker novels, all have a similar gun silhouette and a couple of images in front, with of a different colour background for each book which incidentally all look quite good together on a shelf. I wasn't even alive back when this originally came out so am quite grateful to be able to read these now without having to pay a small fortune for them.

Just in case you were wondering the next Parker adventure in order for this series is The Jugger.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Shape of Character, June 20, 2009
By 
C. Moore (Bangkok Thailand) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Score: A Parker Novel (Parker Novels) (Paperback)
Parker is a brilliant character. He is focused, acts without emotion, and always for a purpose connected with getting information and fulfilling the mission. Like knocking over a bank or armored car. The Score is one of the few Parker novels that doesn't live up to the high expectations created by the series. There were too many characters given the length of the story. Parker became more of a traffic cop who directed traffic, or a football coach sending in plays to the players. Also it was disappointing that Parker succumbed to sentimentality. The handling of the girlfriend of one of the gang who accidentally tagged along wasn't what one would have expected of Parker.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The model for many Parkers to come, February 11, 2011
By 
This review is from: The Score: A Parker Novel (Parker Novels) (Paperback)
After the spy movieish caper in The Mourner, this book returns Parker to the seedy, low-rent criminal world of scuzzy, dusty small towns where he seems to belong best, and sets the pattern for many of the books to follow with a wildly audacious caper which will go wrong in unexpected ways halfway through, leaving Parker to scramble his way out. The plan is to hit a sleepy mining town in North Dakota with limited entrances and clean the whole town out in one night. The plan starts with a former resident of the town who has all the details about the town-- but needless to say, Parker and his confederates don't know everything they need to know about him. (The most obvious example of this book's followers is Backflash, in which the object is a riverboat casino and the man with the plan has a similar secret.) Unapologetically tough and ingenious, this is one of the best of the series.
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The Score: A Parker Novel (Parker Novels)
The Score: A Parker Novel (Parker Novels) by Richard Stark (Paperback - April 15, 2009)
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