Breakout by Richard Stark (aka Donald Westlake)

In the 21st of 24 Parker novels “Breakout,” Parker is arrested and placed into a detention center, awaiting arraignment. Although Parker once mentioned he had been temporarily on a prison farm in California under an assumed name, throughout all the Parker novels, he has been this invincible behemoth who never gets picked up, never does time. The authorities don’t really know who he is. Therefore, if you have been reading these novels, you rarely think about the possibility of Parker being taken into custody. It just doesn’t happen.

In this non-stop action novel, Parker admits that, although there are some guys who don’t mind it, he doesn’t like doing time. Most of the guys awaiting arraignment and trial are a sad, sorry bunch and he has to pick through them to find a team he can work with to “break out” (get it) of the detention center, the brand spanking-new detention center that no one has ever escaped from before. That entire sequence is worthy of being a novel onto itself. But, the cost of having partners is that he has to go in with them to commit a caper on the outside, one which he doesn’t like.

This is book felt as if it were solid action from cover to cover with absolutely no let-up. As with all Parker novels, a reader is required to set aside an entire evening without distractions to read the book. There are going to be few things you find more important than finishing it. Westlake’s stripped-down style of writing just soars in this book. In this Parker series, particularly the later ones, you feel as if Westlake has climbed to another level of writing, smooth and professional. The books feel as if they are chiseled to perfection without any extraneous details thrown it.


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