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Breakout: A Parker Novel


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Donald E. Westlake has written numerous novels under his own name and several pseudonyms, including Richard Stark. Many of his books have been screened, including The Hunter, which became the brilliant film noir Point Blank, and the 1999 smash hit Payback. The winner of three Edgar awards and a Mystery Writers of America Grand Master, Donald E. Westlake has also been presented with the Private Eye Writers of America's Lifetime Achievement Award. He lives with his wife in rural New York State


This fifth book about master criminal Parker since his welcome return from a 20-year hiatus is packed so tightly with the painstaking details of everything from the dank tedium of prison life to the architecture and construction of a Midwestern shopping complex that it comes as a shock to realize the volume isn't bigger than it is. Stark, the nom de crime adopted for this series by MWA Grand Master Donald Westlake, is an artist of compression, with the ability to create a complex, frightening character in very few words. Of an Asian lawyer visiting Parker in prison, he writes, "Li was amused, not by Parker in particular but by his own entire life; it made him easy to be around, but suggested there were circumstances when he might not be completely reliable." But Stark is also remarkable because he seems to know how everything works and can explain it without slowing down the story. Stuck in a fortress-like holding prison "on the outskirts of the only large city in this big empty midwestern state" after a robbery goes bad, Parker links up with two other prisoners in a totally logical way, then plans a breakout (the first of several in the book) so credible that we're swept up in its mechanics. But before he can return to his haven in rural New Jersey, Parker has to pay off the help he received by taking part in another robbery that falls apart in a different way that's just as exhilarating. Watching artists like Stark and Parker at work is a great pleasure, which an increasing audience will be delighted to share. (Nov. 20) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

Do you like your crime fiction pared to the bone? Are you addicted to narratives that move with bullet-speed velocity, in which every action is fraught with reined-in menace? Then Richard Stark is undoubtedly your man - Daily Express

If nothing else, Breakout proves that it's hard to get good help nowadays. Returning under the guise of the Stark pen name (following last year's Firebreak), mystery author Donald E. Westlake has Parker, a.k.a. Ronald Kasper, involved in the heist of a pharmaceutical company warehouse that goes terribly wrong owing to the ineptness of a confederate. Ending up in the stir, Parker identifies the two prisoners he can depend on to help him break out of their maximum-security prison. Once out, Parker discovers that he's not rid of his colleagues, who then involve him in the knockoff of a wholesale jewelry company, housed in a supposedly impenetrable ex-armory. After the trio successfully gains entrance to the company, they find that extricating themselves from it proves a lot more difficult. When they effect their escape via the good offices of a pizza delivery man, they are faced with having to elude the police as well as the prison authorities before Parker can gracefully excuse himself with the meager swag he's managed to retrieve. With help at such a premium, fans will thank Stark/Westlake for assisting them in making it through another night of guaranteed spare, straight-ahead action and dark humor. For all public libraries.-Bob Lunn, Kansas City P.L., MO Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

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