Donald Westlake writing as Richard Stark
Between Parker’s 1961 debut and his return in the late 1990s, the world of crime changed considerably. Now fake IDs and credit cards have to be purchased from specialists; increasingly sophisticated policing made escape and evasion tougher; and, worst of all, money had gone digital—the days of cash-stuffed payroll trucks were long gone.
But cash isn’t everything: Flashfire and Firebreak find Parker going after, respectively, a fortune in jewels and a collection of priceless paintings. In Flashfire, Parker’s in West Palm Beach, competing with a crew that has an unhealthy love of explosions; when things go sour, Parker finds himself shot and trapped—and forced to rely on a civilian to survive.
Melander likes to do things flashy. When Parker finds himself working with Melander on a bank heist in a mid-sized midwestern city, his job is throwing a Molotov cocktail into a gas station. The resulting explosion sends the cops and fire trucks to the east side of town, while Melander and his gang plunder the bank on the west side. Parker doesn't care for flashy. And he doesn't care for Melander's plan for a new heist, one that will clean out Palm Beach of a lot of very expensive jewellery. But what Parker really dislikes is Melander's intention to use the proceeds from the bank job to capitalize the Palm Beach job . . . including Parker's cut. Melander is very polite about Parker's not wanting to go in on the Florida heist, and very sincere about paying Parker his share . . . with interest . . . after the jewellery job goes down. But that's not the way Parker works. Now he's tailing the gang down South, with his own plan for getting his own back . . . and the entire swag of gems besides.
This is the Parker novel that inspired the most recent film adaptation, Parker (January 2013), which was the first film to use the unique anti-hero's original name.
Praise for Flashfire
“Stark’s 23rd primer … moving money, disarming firing pins and alarm systems, stealing cars, and maiming without giving personal offense contains exquisitely pungent gangster dialogue.”
“How does Stark know so much about the mechanics of crime? In this latest instalment of the miraculously revitalized career of master criminal Parker, Stark blithely reveals how to use a telephone repairman's tools to check if a house is empty, how to find cash to steal in an increasingly electronic economy, how to launder money by making up a fictitious church. He does this all without boasting or moralizing, describing Parker's abilities and stomping grounds in the clean, pungent, poetically understated prose that makes him one of our best noir novelists … Westlake has recharged his batteries with a formula he should market to other writers”
- Publisher’s Weekly
“The action [in Flashfire] is nonstop. . . . The awful fascination in these Parker tales comes from knowing the protagonist will always do whatever is necessary to protect himself and to achieve his goals.”
- Wall Street Journal