- Series: Parker Novels
- Paperback: 304 pages
- Publisher: Mysterious Press (November 1, 2002)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0446678244
- ISBN-13: 978-0446678247
- Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.9 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 9.3 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 22 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,744,167 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Firebreak (Parker Novels) Paperback – November 1, 2002
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Penzler Pick, December 2001: You'd have to hammer apart an armored tank to find a surface harder than that of Richard Stark's antihero Parker. A thief and a killer, Parker is the protagonist of a contemporary series that has the legendary status of vintage noir. The films Point Blank (with Lee Marvin) and Payback (with Mel Gibson) were both made from the first Parker novel, The Hunter. After an absence from print of over two decades, Parker began breaking all the commandments again in 1997's Comeback.
However, since Stark is, as the dust jacket informs readers, also at times the mystery Grand Master Donald E. Westlake, there's a curious phenomenon worth noting in the pages of this, the 21st Parker novel. Larry Lloyd, a crook by virtue of his (bad) temper if not his temperament, seems to be a second-banana character who's strolled out of a Westlake comic caper into a Stark scenario and can't quite figure out what he's doing here. Practically a textbook definition of a loose cannon, he comes on board the team planning to rob a billionaire techno-geek's remote mountain hideaway because of his own electronics expertise. OK, so he has a violent streak and is willing to put a bullet through a guy's eyeball, but he's still more Walter Mitty than James Cagney.
As he's about to help get the heist back on track at the last minute, Parker asks him if he thinks he's 007. "Are you kidding?" he says. "The last few weeks, I've been scaling cliffs, shooting people, getting rid of bodies, stealing ambulances, I am James Bond."
Since this comes from the hugely fertile mind of Westlake/Stark, this is not the story's only plotline. There is another, more twisty one running on a track parallel to the one with Parker and his robbery-minded pals on it. Revenge may be a dish best eaten cold, but when it's a matter of kill or be killed, Parker is not likely to be one of the leftovers.
Sometimes, a series loses some of its freshness and originality after it reaches a certain number. Amazingly, after 39 years and 21 books, this novel is as good as any in the series, which should be taken as the highest praise it's possible to give without seeming to be sycophantic. --Otto Penzler --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
From Publishers Weekly
Parker and crew have their eyes on the contents of a secret vault in a billionaire's hunting lodge in this typically taut thriller written by Donald E. Westlake under his nom de noir, but first the tough antihero must deal, roughly, with some people trying to whack him. A Russian hit man provides the overture action as Parker attracts the attention of enemies from the past and meets the killer mercilessly. Parker spends much of the rest of the book seeking out the source of the contract, gradually learning that his current job has brought his name and whereabouts to the surface. The job is one his old partners, Elkins and Wiss, have put on the table: a stash of paintings by Old Masters stolen from museums around the world and kept in dot-com mogul Paxton Marino's Montana lodge for his personal pleasure. To get past Marino's sophisticated electronic safeguards, they need help from a computer-nerd-gone-bad, really bad, named Lloyd. The author delivers this novel with the economy of a 1950s paperback original ("Twelve thousand dollars in twenties and fifties was rolled into an orange juice concentrate can in the freezer"), but slips in enough plot twists and surprises to satisfy the most modern audience (no heist ever written by Stark/Westlake comes off without lots of hitches). That Parker, on general principles, doesn't bump off Lloyd at first sight almost seems like a sign of weakness, but it's the only one in this deliciously nasty read. (Nov. 14)Forecast: Coming on the heels of Flashfire (2000), the last Parker novel, this one promises to be just as big a hit for MWA Grand Master and three-time Edgar-winner Westlake.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
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The astonishing thing is how readable they still are, not at all reflecting their year, excepting in small things if you happen to notice them, and most likely you won't, you will be too busy turning pages. If you are a thriller reader it will be too bad if you were to miss these. They are written by one of the best suspense writers ever, the writing is spare, fast, no word wasted, but pay attention - every action counts.
Parker is the ultimate anti-hero; he is hard, amoral, practical, thinks quickly and acts even quicker. He doesn't kill injudiciously (it causes too many problems down the line) unless he is following up an old score and means it, or his position would be untenable if he didn't and then he does not even blink. He has his own code of honour and beware if it is over stepped in the murky world he inhabits. And he surely grows on you; you LIKE him, damnit.
There is no sentimentality or heart searching and no distracting sex, he has his girl and has been faithful to her ever since she made her appearance in one of the older books, but protecting her sometimes adds a complication.
Do try any of them, now, in 2012 - you won't be sorry, and you don't need to know the story, enough that it is Parker.
From the very first line of this story, we are drawn in to this latest caper. Parker is recruited to participate in stealing some art from an internet billionaire. Having botched the theft previously, his recruiters are eager for a second chance, even with heightened security. The art in question is very valuable and already stolen material, so there are legal authorities involved also.
Meanwhile, some old adversaries of Parker's from an earlier book, are out for revenge and have hired killers to dispose of the thief. Parker's recruiters also have ex-partners to deal with. This makes for a complex but never overly-complicated story that is fun from beginning to end.
Who lives? Who dies? Will Parker get the loot? Fans of previous novels know that nothing is certain in one of these books; Parker doesn't win them all. As a reader, however, you can continue a winning streak of great books by reading this one.
all the way to Montana!!The characters are lively and real and slippery as they come. All in a VERY good read.
Don'y miss it if you like Parker novels (and movies).
"Firebreak", for me, represents the best of Parker. There's a job to be done, but there are also problems, first distinct from the job, then directly concerned with the job. This latest novel presents some of the longest-distance action since "The Sour Lemon Score", and, in fact, revisits three characters from that story. Plus, Elkins and Wiss, the "specialty promotions" guys from previous books and fond memory are back. PLUS: check me on this, but "Firebreak" may just be the first mention of the web in the Stark repetoire.
If you're a Parker fan, and particularly if you have resisted returning to the fold (OK, yes, in the beginning I thought the revived series was strictly to make bucks off the Mel Gibson PAYBACK), then it's time to check in.
Just one egregious mistake by Stark. Keep in mind, Parker is the guy, in "The Rare Coin Score", who had to ask Claire what year a Roman numeral represented ("I'm no good with that stuff"). Indeed, in this very book, Parker frowns at the abbreviation PR. And yet, on pages 32 and 51, Parker correctly identifies Cyrillic letters (the writing on the note he found on page 28). Richard, we love you, but, BE CAREFUL!