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The Jugger: A Parker Novel (Parker Novels) Paperback – April 15, 2009

4.4 out of 5 stars 28 customer reviews
Book 6 of 24 in the Parker Series

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Editorial Reviews



“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 2009-04-17)

“Perhaps this, more than anything else, is what I admire about these novels: the consistent ruthlessness of an unapologetic bastard.  And so 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)

“Parker is refreshingly amoral, a thief who always gets away with the swag.”

(Stephen King Entertainment Weekly)

“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)

“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)

“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)

“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 roman 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)

"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)

About the Author

Richard Stark was one of the many pseudonyms of Donald E. Westlake (1933-2008), a prolific author of noir crime fiction. In 1993 the Mystery Writers of America bestowed the society’s highest honor on Westlake, naming him a Grand Master.

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Product Details

  • Series: Parker Novels
  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: University Of Chicago Press; Reprint edition (April 15, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226771024
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226771021
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #405,782 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Joe Sheer, a fine old man, retired safecracker (jugger), has been Parker's contact man for years. Parker receives a disquieting letter from Joe and wonders if he is getting a little old for the job. Parker decides to pay him a visit, not to present a gold watch, but perhaps to help Joe along to his eternal rest. The usually overly careful Parker flies to Sagamore, Nebraska to have a hands-on visit with Joe using his clean-as-a whistle alias, Charles Willis.
Picture Smalltown U.S.A. Friendly folks, picket fences, nicely clipped lawns, tree shaded lots, porch swings, and you have Sagamore. Now picture deadly purposeful Parker strolling down the sidewalks. Neither one of them are quite ready for the other. Alas for Parker, there is no heist this time, Joe is already dead, and the local and state police are taking far too much interest in Charles Willis. Parker has to put his superb planning abilities in high gear to settle the natives, and solve the mystery of Joe's alleged buried fortune. Parker's sole interest in this is to get Charles Willis back to Miami unknown and uninvestigated.
This is a fine Parker outing where Parker is the only one in Sagamore with good sense, and with much exasperation has to lead the law to the truth. To get the job done, a few homicides happen, and a left over lady with "the eyes of a pickpocket and the mouth of a whore" helps him out. "The Jugger" is best read after you have read a couple other Parker novels for background. For all other Parker aficionados, this is choice.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Parker is threatened. His long time friend, Joe Sheer, a retired safe cracker or jugger, wrote him a letter begging for his help. Joe Sheer is the only person alive that knows Parker's cover character Charles Willis. Parker spent many years and much money to build his cover and if it is exposed he would have nowhere to lay low with confidence.

Parker travels to Joe's retreat, a tiny town in Nebraska, and discovers that Joe is dead. Since he visited the town using his alias name, he realized that he was now exposed. But what happened to Joe? Why did Joe beg him to come? The Jugger is the story of how Parker survives this major threat.

Investigating Joe's death, Parker learns that several people are convinced that Joe had a large treasure stash and all of them want to find the money and get a large cut. Parker, who believes his old friend never had such a treasure, stays around to try to save his "safe" alias. This is the toughest job Parker has had. Can he save himself?

The Jugger is a violent, action packed thriller. Parker's clever and sometimes desperate actions lead to excitement and intrigue. I highly recommend The Jugger.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I don't usually read book series other than Tom Clancy, but I do read and love Westlake's (Richard Stark pen names) Parker Series. This is #6 and suggest reading in order.

As other reviews have noted, Westlake has admitted regrets about the Jugger...Parker appears to have gone soft. I don't agree.

The Jugger is consistent with theme of Parker as a flawed human being and master criminal with many qualities. Parker is smart, clever, perceptive about people and human nature, amoral, and only violent when he needs to be. Anyone who is skilled in their craft or business will respect Parker's expert craft as a criminal.

Parker lives in the moment like any good sales person. Not the past. Not the future. Though he respects only dependable people he has worked with in the past. Bozzo's and other undependable types get written off or killed. Mess with drugs, alcohol, or women during a job means you are a Bozzo and are undependable. Parker also plans financially. He pays income taxes to establish legitimacy, stashes cash everywhere like a squirrel, and only "works" enough to replenish his cash. The smart criminal.

About the story: As with other Parker stories, nothing is as it seems, and all the pieces come together by the end of the story. One of Parker's dependable ex-crime partners is in trouble and unclear why. Parker travels to Nebraska not because he cares about his friend--he has no friends--but fear that something might leak about himself and his own criminal past. Parker leaves nothing to chance, so he quickly decides he must travel from his motel "home" in Miami to Nebraska.

The rest of the story is Parker figuring out what happened and not allowing any loose ends that might lead back to him.
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Format: Paperback
A jugger sounds like some mythical creature out of Dr. Seuss's imagination. What in blazes is it? Apparently, in the world of
Parker, a jugger is a safecracker, although I haven't seen that slang anywhere else..

Joe Sheer is a retired jugger. But, he's still connected to the life. He knows everyone and has many good ideas. For Parker, this guy Sheer is his contact when he disappears into his Charles Willis identity. Someone wants to contact Parker about a job, they don't go and blow up his safe identity. They call Sheer. Sheer contacts Parker or holds the info till Parker makes contact. It's like having a private mail drop. So what happens when something goes wrong with this private mail drop? What happens if someone gets the drop on old man Sheer and finds out that Charles Willis is Parker. Well, all kinds of trouble and enough to fill a whole book.

The Jugger is the sixth Parker novel and not considered to be one of the best. Westlake himself has had misgivings about this one, deciding after it was published that Parker wouldn't have gone to Sagamore to help anyone, but it's been pointed out that Parker's goal was preserving his clean identity of Charles Willis, a Parkerian selfish motive. This one differs from the other Parkers in that there wasn't a caper he was pursuing or escaping from, but Parker still had a mission here. When his contact ( Joe Sheer) went missing, Parker needed to know if anyone was on to Parker's own identity.

It has some amusing bits when Parker gets to town and every yahoo he meets thinks Parker is after the same thing they are, but Parker just plays along.

Particularly good was the creation of the character of Captain Younger, who, even for a bumbling small town cop, has a fascinating backstory.
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