Thursday, January 19, 2023

Parker 2: The Man With the Getaway Face by Richard Stark

Parker 2
The Man With the Getaway Face
by Richard Stark (Donald E. Westlake)

Parker gets a face job from a black market plastic surgeon and plans an armored car heist, which is complicated by threats to reveal his identity to the outfit.

This is a heist novel but it also has the feel of a police procedural, only from the criminal side.

The prose has a lack of affect that mirrors Parker's sociopathy, and reminds me of early Bret Easton Ellis or Dennis Cooper. I like this kind of style, but when it's utilized for page upon page of Parker buying a used car it can get to be a bit much. Others could find it lifeless and padded and I couldn't really argue.

The way the story is lined up is unusual. Not a lot of planning for the heist, but a lot of preparation, along the way foreshadowing point by point what was going to go wrong: a curious state trooper, vehicles about to break down, etc. Then the heist goes more smoothly than it had any right to.

The story is then taken over by a side plot from the point of view of the plastic surgeon's chauffeur, Stubbs, a brain damaged former Communist organizer. Parker's involvement seems convoluted and ultimately futile, as he goes to great lengths to avoid killing some people and drops others without a qualm.

I'd rather Stubbs had gotten a series, as he was a more interesting and likeable character. Parker gives lip services to having a code, which would put him in anti-hero territory, but then he'll do something like enjoy hurting sex workers, not because he's a sadist, but because he wants them to pay attention. A couple notches further into bad guy territory than a Walter White, but not full blown Freddy Kreuger either.

Currently criminally overpriced for Kindle, check your library.

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