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The Hunter: A Parker Novel (Parker Novels) Paperback – September 1, 2008
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She shot him just above the belt and left him for dead. Then they torched the house, with Parker in it, and took the money he had helped them steal. It all went down just the way they'd planned, except for one thing: Parker didn't die.
In The Hunter, the first volume in the Parker series, our ruthless antihero roars into New York City, seeking revenge on the woman who betrayed him and on the man who took his money, stealing and scamming his way to redemption. The volume that kickstarted Parker's forty-plus-year career of larceny—and inspired the 1967 motion picture Point Blank, starring Lee Marvin—The Hunter is back, ready to thrill a new generation of noir fans.
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“Parker represents the antihero with dubious morals. Stark’s clever plot structure, moving back and forth in time, is totally engrossing.”--Library Journal
― Library Journal Published On: 2008-10-05
“Writing a couple of years ago . . . John Banville reckoned the Parker novels to be 'among the most poised and polished fictions of their time and, in fact, any time.' That's high praise from an impeccable source, and Banville is right to single out the technical excellence of these books. The Parkers read with the speed of pulp while unfolding with an almost Nabokovian wit and flair. . . . Original editions of these books, and even later reprints, change hands for scores or hundreds of dollars on the Net, and it’s excellent to have them readily available again—not so much masterpieces of the genre, just masterpieces, period. . . . . The Hunter glitters with seemingly effortless intricacy, being aimed at one episode—a stunner, the kind of moment in fiction that really does have you leaping from your chair and exclaiming in surprise and glee.”-- Richard Rayner ― Los Angeles Times Published On: 2008-09-14
“Fiercely distracting . . . . Westlake is an expert plotter; and while Parker is a blunt instrument of a human being depicted in rudimentary short grunts of sentences, his take on other characters reveals a writer of great humor and human understanding.” -- John Hodgman ― "Parade"
“Parker is refreshingly amoral, a thief who always gets away with the swag.”-- Stephen King ― Entertainment Weekly Published On: 2008-09-12
“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 Published On: 2008-08-28
“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
“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
“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 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 Review of Books
"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
“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
- Publisher : University of Chicago Press; Revised ed. edition (September 1, 2008)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 198 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0226770990
- ISBN-13 : 978-0226770994
- Item Weight : 8.7 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.31 x 0.5 x 8.03 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #110,645 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Reviewed in the United States on December 3, 2021
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This was a blast. Granted, some of the misogynistic 1960 perspectives did not age (nor should it actually...in this case it reinforces the protagonist Parker's culture). I can see why this expanded in 1 24 book series. Parker is our protagonist, but he's tough criminal. His exploits are James Bond-like, in that he is a lone rogue constantly thinking on the fly; otherwise, his intentions are entirely self-serving.
As HAJ indicated, this was not only fun to read, but it is a fine example of an entertaining book that also demonstrates highly-efficient prose; each sentence delivers only what it has to, and Stark/Westlake perfected when to add detail (ie Brand names or key adjectives). Also perfected, chapter-to-chapter information reveals; the reader only receives what they need, but five chapters in you'll realize that each section unravels key context from all the prior ones.
Splendid. I'm not sure if I want to read all 24! However, I heard the first three comprise a story arc, so I plan to read the next two.
I remember reading Westlake’s stories in Ellery Queen’s Magazine years ago and liking his simple and direct writing. His characters defined themselves by action and real time introspection. The epitome of this living and thinking in the present time is Parker, the main character of the first novel in the series, The Hunter. He is a large man with a personality founded on solitude and emotional reticence and a mostly single-minded approach to getting what he wants.
Parker is committed to a life of often violent criminal activity, felonious robberies, rewarded by months of leisure between crimes at luxury hotels. In The Hunter, Parker is married to the one person in the world he cannot live without. He knows the marriage leaves him vulnerable in the criminal world, but he cannot help himself. Parker and Lynn get involved in a heist and their plans and actions among thieves are good on the surface but treacherous behind the scenes.
Westlake’s writing is so good that the reader roots for the success of Parker but realizes from the beginning of the novel that something has gone very wrong with the “job.” I kept looking for more information about the history and motivation of Parker, hard to do when the character is constantly focused on the present criminal activity. He makes decisions and frequently acts out violently but without displays of angry emotions. After his acts, he shows no remorse, attending only to the present challenge.
The biggest challenge for Parker in The Hunter is dealing with “the syndicate,” a crime organization that becomes interested in his activities. He does not want anything to do with the criminals in the far-flung group based in New York. But, Parker realizes that you can’t always get what you want in a life based on illegal gains and functional mayhem. He has revenge on his mind for a double cross by a syndicate member.
I have already read the next 3 novels in the Parker Kindle series. Each book is short (The Hunter is 208 pages) and fast reading. The payoff for the reader is an understanding of an increasingly complex character with few if any socially redeeming qualities. He does show situational compassion to losers now and again.
The good news is that this is the first book and there are plenty more to keep you up way too late once you're hooked on them.
By George D. Kenney on December 3, 2021
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It's not that it's not good - it's well written, and unlike the Dortmunder novels there are few enough characters that you can pick it up very easily - but it's grim. You have people accidentally choking to death, suicides, stranglings and innocents being deprived of all their savings. This isn't the sort of book you'd read for a cheery respite from a stressful day.
On the other hand, my 6-week year old daughter appeared to enjoy The Hunter just as much as any of the Dortmunder books that she's had read to her so far. And it does have a plot that's a lot more entertaining than most of the books that are aimed at a pre-schooler.
Now reading the original text it loses none of the atmosphere or brilliance.
Each chapter powers along, insisting you read "just one more" part. The simplistic writing style is perfect for a crime/action book, keeping the plot focussed and engaged. Desperate to check out the next in this series.