After the publication of Butcher’s Moon in 1974, Donald Westlake said, “Richard Stark proved to me that he had a life of his own by simply disappearing. He was gone.” And readers waited.
But nothing bad is truly gone forever, and Parker’s as bad as they come. According to Westlake, one day in 1997, “suddenly, he came back from the dead, with a chalky prison pallor”—and the novels that followed showed that neither Parker nor Stark had lost a step.
Backflash finds Parker checking out the scene on a Hudson River gambling boat. Parker’s no fan of either relaxation or risk, however, so you can be sure he’s playing with house money—and he’s willing to do anything to tilt the odds in his favor. Featuring a great cast of heisters, a striking setting, and a new introduction by Westlake’s close friend and writing partner, Lawrence Block, this classic Parker adventure deserve a place of honor on any crime fan’s bookshelf.
Stark is, of course, a pen name used by Donald E. Westlake, and Parker is his very tough protagonist--last seen, after a 20-year absence, in Comeback (1997). Parker is a hard-nosed crook indeed, quite unlike the giddy opportunists who often brighten Westlake's lighter tales. He is serious about his business, and anyone who tries to cross him--as several people do in this dark tale of piracy on the Hudson River--is likely to end up perforated. Parker's game plan this time is to rob a floating casino being tried out on the Albany-Poughkeepsie run in upstate New York. His informant is odd (an apparently upright state pol turning to crime in his old age), but Parker goes ahead anyway and puts together a gang with an ingenious plan to smuggle guns aboard the high-security boat and get the money off it. It seems to work, but more people know about his scheme than Parker could ever have realized, and at the end there's a great deal of bloody cleaning up to do. Stark's narration is deadpan tough, full of hard, realistic detail about places and people and with just enough salty dialogue to move things along briskly ("`We live and learn, Ray,' Parker said, and shot him"). No need to lament a golden age of hard-boiled writing; it's right here, now.
Customer ReviewsSee All
you’re reading and you go “how’s Parker getting out of this one.” and he does. it ain’t easy. but he gets out of it. another gem. perfect. dorian holley