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Breakout Hardcover – November 20, 2002
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Tired of do-gooder heroes saving the day? Meet Parker--just Parker to you, bub--a one-man wrecking crew, cunning, fearless, and more than just a little cold-blooded. Writing again under hard-boiled alter-ego Richard Stark, Mystery Writers of America Grand Master Donald E. Westlake returns to the violent world of his legendary criminal creation with Breakout.
This time around Parker has picked certain members of his crew wrong and the job goes south right into the county lockup. Alone and isolated, the antihero finds himself without much wiggle room. But experienced Stark readers know, wiggling is what the slippery Parker does best. In Breakout, he wiggles himself out of jail and right into an even more dangerous situation involving an armory, a tunnel, and a jewelry wholesaler.
While there are rough spots here and there, Breakout is simply another fun-to-read Parker novel, taking readers again to the flip side where the bad guys win and the good guys are never as good as they should be. Call it a great escape because, with this Parker novel in particular, that's just what it is. --Jeremy Pugh
From Publishers Weekly
This fifth book about master criminal Parker since his welcome return from a 20-year hiatus is packed so tightly with the painstaking details of everything from the dank tedium of prison life to the architecture and construction of a Midwestern shopping complex that it comes as a shock to realize the volume isn't bigger than it is. Stark, the nom de crime adopted for this series by MWA Grand Master Donald Westlake, is an artist of compression, with the ability to create a complex, frightening character in very few words. Of an Asian lawyer visiting Parker in prison, he writes, "Li was amused, not by Parker in particular but by his own entire life; it made him easy to be around, but suggested there were circumstances when he might not be completely reliable." But Stark is also remarkable because he seems to know how everything works and can explain it without slowing down the story. Stuck in a fortress-like holding prison "on the outskirts of the only large city in this big empty midwestern state" after a robbery goes bad, Parker links up with two other prisoners in a totally logical way, then plans a breakout (the first of several in the book) so credible that we're swept up in its mechanics. But before he can return to his haven in rural New Jersey, Parker has to pay off the help he received by taking part in another robbery that falls apart in a different way that's just as exhilarating. Watching artists like Stark and Parker at work is a great pleasure, which an increasing audience will be delighted to share.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Top Customer Reviews
In this non-stop action novel, Parker admits that, although there are some guys who don’t mind it, he doesn’t like doing time. Most of the guys awaiting arraignment and trial are a sad, sorry bunch and he has to pick through them to find a team he can work with to “break out” (get it) of the detention center, the brand spanking-new detention center that no one has ever escaped from before. That entire sequence is worthy of being a novel onto itself. But, the cost of having partners is that he has to go in with them to commit a caper on the outside, one which he doesn’t like. They have to “break in” to an old armory converted to a set of apartments with a jewelry wholesaler on the first floor, an armory with twenty-inch thick walls and one way in or out. No other ways. Once in, they can’t go out the way they came in and have to figure out once again how to “break out” of this new prison they’ve found themselves in. And, then, to top things off, with half the state (some flat Midwest state) looking for them, Brenda Mackey gets herself arrested for her connection to these break-ins and break-outs and they have to figure out a way to break her out before the authorities have a clue as to what her true name is.
This is book felt as if it were solid action from cover to cover with absolutely no let-up. As with all Parker novels, a reader is required to set aside an entire evening without distractions to read the book. There are going to be few things you find more important than finishing it.
Westlake’s stripped-down style of writing just soars in this book. In this Parker series, particularly the later ones, you feel as if Westlake has climbed to another level of writing, smooth and professional. The books feel as if they are chiseled to perfection without any extraneous details thrown it.
Yes, I highly recommend this to any readers of crime fiction and men’s adventure novels. Read on.
Westlake says he wrote Breakout after someone pointed out to him that Parker, the professional law-breaker, had never been caught. Very well, thought the maestro, in this one Parker will go to jail in chapter one..
... and break out in part one. And when he goes along with a heist in a old armory, he'll get trapped again. So part three will be another breakout.. with a twist in the very last sentence, so that part four will be...
As with all the "millennial" Parkers (from Comeback (1997) to Dirty Money (2008)), there is enough plot for three books compressed into its fast pages.
In Breakout Parker is behind bars in the overcrowded Stoneveldt, a transit prison for those awaiting trial and the probable outcome of an even worse actual jail. Although the authorities can't work out who he actually is they do know one of his alter egos killed a prison guard and escaped from a California prison so it won't be long before he's extradited there. This is not a place Parker wants to go so he must escape Stoneveldt, where no one else has ever done so before. Stoneveldt isn't the only place he will have to escape from before leaving town.
If you like Westlake as Richard Stark or himself also check out James Pattinson (Pattinson not Patterson), a British author who writes very similar novels.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I quit reading the book at that point.Read more