Richard Stark






Quercus/Murdoch Books, This edition first published May 2007
Reviewed by Sally Roddom

ASK THE PARROT opens with our hero Parker running up a hill away from police and dogs, who are hunting him after a botched bank robbery. At the top of the hill waits Tom Lindahl, an armed local who has come out looking for one of the bank robbers. However Lindahl isnít looking to catch a robber. He is looking to recruit one. Lindahl was a whistleblower on political money laundering at the local racecourse. Things didnít go according to plan, and instead of receiving protection, he has lost his job and his wife, and now lives as a hermit on a disability allowance. The money laundering is still occurring and he wants Parker to help him steal the money. Parker needs to be able to keep his head down, so he agrees to help. Circumstances see Parker and Lindahl joining a posse to help search for the missing bank robbers, and a murder occurs, giving yet another twist to the story. Add to the mix two brothers who think they recognise Parker as one of the bank robbers and want him to give them some of the stolen money for plastic surgery; and you have a lot of twists and turns for Parker to juggle through.

It is an interesting concept that author Richard Stark has Ė building a series around a criminal. Parker robs, kills, tortures and lies; he does whatever it takes to survive. He is not a nice person, yet you canít dislike him. Parker is always in control of the situation Ė even when situations change beyond belief, he thinks on his feet and comes up with an alternative plan without missing a beat. The reader never learns Parkerís first name, although his aliases are all full names. Parker the character is hard to explain Ė he has no feelings of guilt Ė in fact he expresses no feelings at all, not laughter, not love, not even hate. He just is. He obviously has an agenda, but what it is the reader doesnít know.

I have never read any of Starkís novels before. This book read well as a stand alone, and I didnít suffer because I started in the middle of a series of around twenty-three previous titles. The book is written in four parts. The first three parts each end with a seemingly impossible twist to the tale, leaving the reader wondering how Parker is going to get out of the situation. The final part concludes this adventure, but leaves it wide open for another book. THE HUNTER is the first book in the ĎParkerí series; it was brought to the big screen in the 1960ís as Point Blank and the 1990ís as Payback.

Aug 2007 review originally published on Murder & Mayhem


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