The Score

Richard Stark, The Score, | Books, Pulp fiction

The Score” is number five with a bullet of the twenty-four Parker novels provided to us by Mr. Donald Westlake, writing as Richard Stark. It was first published in 1964, but doesn’t feel dated. Parker, who by now is almost the king of thieves, is asked to run an operation that requires twenty-four men. Although Parker knocks it down to a dozen men, it still is quite an operation. Nothing like this has ever been done before. They are going to take over a small North Dakota mining town, Copper Canyon, a town with only one road in or out and one railroad in or out. In order to pull this off and pilfer the banks on the main street and the plant, they have to take over the police station, the fire station, and the telephone exchange. They also have to have a hideout nearby. Luckily, the guy who came to Parker with the idea, although a bit of an amateur, is familiar with the town and the setup.

A large portion of the book is consumed with getting all the players in motion and setting up the heist. By the middle of the book, one wonders if it will be contained in one volume or spread out over successive volumes, but Stark (Westlake) fits it all in. Somehow his writing, which is sparse and careful, takes the reader on this journey very aptly and even the long set-up of the operation is not dull. Once the operation gets underway, all kinds of excitement breaks out and, despite the number of players involved, it is not hard to follow or to understand who is who. Of course, even the smoothest of operations has a few wrinkles and this one, despite how well-planned and well-executed, nearly blows up in Parker’s face.

Grofield, one of Parker’s accomplices, who is a Shakespearean actor on the side, is introduced to the reader in this volume. Grofield later goes no to star in four novels of his own (The Dame, The Damsel, The Blackbird, and Lemons Never Lie). The suave, cultured, ladies’ man is quite a character and does a few unexpected things.

All in all, another terrific novel in the Parker series. The smooth, professional style that these books are written in makes it almost seem as if it were effortless by the writer (Stark/Westlake).

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