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Customer Review

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brave in a new world, May 5, 2012
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This review is from: Firebreak: A Parker Novel (Parker Novels Book 20) (Kindle Edition)
When the phone rang, Parker was in the garage, killing a man.

This is how this book starts. The novel is volume 20 of a series of 24, written over a span of 4 decades since the 1960s. All of them start with a similar sentence. When that happened, Parker was just doing this...

That opening habit is the only such mannerism in Stark. The rest is always original, even when each book is about a robbery or more than one.
Crime goes with time. Parker finds it more and more difficult to fill short term small cash needs... Cash has largely gone out of use. More and more cyber crime happens, and 'normal' heists need to add know how of the cyber world to stay ahead of security. The need to involve people with such special knowhow doesn't please Parker. These nerds are risk factors.
In the process, Parker must change his style. He must become more patient with fools and amateurs. That is not good for his perfectionism. He is the planner, the strategist, but mastery of the universe escapes him now.

The subject in Firebreak is a break into the hunting lodge of an Internet mogul... Why go there at all? Not for the golden appliances, those would just cause logistics trouble, but for the hidden vault with art treasures below the lodge, in a basement. Actually, there are paintings that some of the gang had stolen before already, a few years ago from a museum. But how will they sell the goods?
That heist is disturbed by interference from the malevolent past, brought on by hackers. Parker has to force his way of life on a new world. Brave.

This is maybe not Stark's most entertaining Parker, but the first in the lot that reveals doubt about the world as Parker knows it.
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Showing 1-10 of 12 posts in this discussion
Initial post: May 5, 2012, 3:11:40 PM PDT
I don't know these. Are the Parker books noir in style, do you think?

In reply to an earlier post on May 5, 2012, 5:04:54 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 5, 2012, 5:05:17 PM PDT
H. Schneider says:
Robin, as a noir expert, you could do worse than visit Parker.
The style is not exactly noir. Parker is a professional robber who wil kill when needed. He is not given to small talk. He likes sex, but only after work, not before or during. He doesn't flirt.
The language is as efficient as the narration.
Wayne talked me into it, with seconding from R.Cousins.
H

Posted on May 6, 2012, 8:16:28 PM PDT
Robin --
I would say that the Parker novels by Richard Stark (aka Donald Westlake) are noir, but a sui generis branch of its own. Parker makes them what they are. He is a consummate professional -- all business, with no heart or emotion. He has his own code of conduct. One tenet, as Helmut says, is that he does not kill unless necessary (police investigate murders much more intensively than robberies), but if indeed necessary, Parker neither hesitates nor regrets. Another tenet, again repeating Helmut, is no sex on the job. (This spares the reader from a trope of more conventional noir fiction that really does get old.) Yet another tenet of his code is that he does not double-cross any colleague on a job who has not yet double-crossed him; though, not really trusting anyone, he is ever on the lookout for the double-cross. Be forewarned, however: The Parker novels are addictive, as I see Helmut is finding out.
-- Mike

In reply to an earlier post on May 7, 2012, 2:39:27 AM PDT
H. Schneider says:
Mike, thanks for seconding. Yeah, addictive. I read them on kindle now and find that in certain situations there is nothing more suitable for my mood and fitness. I will soon have finished all 24. H.

In reply to an earlier post on May 7, 2012, 4:06:11 PM PDT
Thanks. This is an interesting analysis of what "noir" menas.

In reply to an earlier post on May 7, 2012, 5:23:20 PM PDT
Well, Parker is a unique kind of "noir". In a perverse way, much noir is romanticized to some degree. There is not a trace of romanticism in the Parker novels. Maybe they are hard-boiled noir.

In reply to an earlier post on May 7, 2012, 5:31:35 PM PDT
H. Schneider says:
Good point, Mike. Parker is the ultimate non-romantic.
One should also praise Stark for creating a writer, himself. His things under other names are quite different. That can't be easily kept up. H

Posted on May 8, 2012, 4:36:49 AM PDT
You've been reviewing so many of these and I liked your first line here so I'm going to start with the first one and give it shot! I've read a few James Ellroy which I would see as romanticized noir as Mike so well put it. This sounds snappier. thanks much H.

In reply to an earlier post on May 8, 2012, 6:17:19 AM PDT
H. Schneider says:
DR, Ellroy is a composite of different styles, but Stark is pure Stark. H

In reply to an earlier post on May 9, 2012, 9:20:06 PM PDT
Opa Wayne says:
H,
Thank you for the outstanding review. I read this novel some time ago,but your review revives the memories. Yes, I found "Parker" hard to resist, so I didn't try. Superior Job.
Wayne
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