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Flashfire: A Parker Novel (Parker Novels) Paperback – August 11, 2011
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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.
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
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.
Parker has not come to rob, his usual craft, but mainly to take revenge. That is a matter of principle with him. His professional ethics don't allow him to let people live who have once double-crossed him. Could be though, that at the end of the revenge, he will also be able to carry away some loot.
In pace, action, and narrative efficiency, this is among the usual high standard for Parker. In the plot, however, I see holes, for the first time in the series. Maybe I am wrong and there are no real holes.
The gang wants to hide on the island after the heist, since escape will be near impossible, but they have chosen a house that will surely be searched. Not convincing. Parker had disagreed with the project and stayed out of it. So would I have. Ahem. Did Stark want to show us that these gangsters are idiots? The flaw is so obvious.
Similarly, their heist itself, while flashy and implemented with pizzaz, has an element of illogic with regard to the tools used... But explaining this would be a spoiler.
Or: the meddling woman, who desperately wants in on the heist as a way to a new life, behaves so recklessly that it can hardly be plausible, other than as a disguised suicide attempt. Crazy people do exist, but this person had been painted as a calculating risk taker, not as an outright nut who would walk into annihilation without blinking.
I tend to give Stark the benefit of doubt, ie he must have been aware that the heist here is flawed, and that the woman is desperately crazy.
Like a few earlier Parker novels, Flashfire begins with a successful robbery. This time Parker is teemed with all new people (recommended by his friend Hurley). But instead of splitting the loot the others all insisted that the proceeds be "invested" in a much more ambitious scheme, the robbery of jewels in Palm Beach.
Parker opts out, but his partners insist that his cut remain in the "investment" and that he will be paid later. Parker does not work that way. Parker plots his revenge.
Parker's main objection was that Palm Springs is an island with only limited entry and a huge police force specifically trained to protect the wealthy inhabitants of this Florida community. How can Parker get his revenge in the midst of all that security? Will he purposely cause them to fail in the robbery or instead tip off the police to their plan? Should Parker quietly kill his former partners, or assuming the robbery is a success, could he rob them after they score? Considering that Parker is a professional who would never interfere with another pro, how can he expect to succeed in getting revenge when he is one man against three?
This novel carefully narrates Parker conducting several profitable robberies to build his resources for his intended scheme. Since his adversaries know him, he builds and new identify complete with legitimate ID cards, legitimate addresses and legitimate financial records, and a startling disguise. Finally Parker moves into Palm Beach and prepares his revenge.
Flashfire is non stop action novel full of suspense and intrigue. If you like crime novels, you will love this Richard Stark story. I highly recommend this book.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is my first reading of a Richard Stark aka DW novel, and I am impressed by the command of language, plot, and character. Read morePublished 1 month ago by JackOfMostTrades
I watched the movie "Parker" and had to read the book. It was even better than I expected. I had never read any of Stark's books before. I will now read all of them. Read morePublished 4 months ago by tom
Who doesn't love a good Anti-Hero. Statham was a poor choice though.Published 7 months ago by D. Rogers
Written by author Donald Westlake under his Richard Stark pseudonym in 2000, this was recently the basis for the 2013 movie " Parker" with Jason Stratham and Jennifer... Read morePublished 13 months ago by Stephen Vincent Kempton
The Parker books in general are pretty good. The early books are dated at this point, but they are all polished little gems of hard noir.Published 18 months ago by Amazon Customer