The Blackbird by Richard Stark (Donald Westlake)

The Blackbird by Richard Stark (2012, Trade Paperback) for sale online | eBay

The Blackbird is the third of four Alan Grofield novels by Donald Westlake’s alter ego, Richard Stark. There are four Grofield novels in all, The Damsel, the Dame, The Blackbird, and Lemons Never Lie. The Vlackbird is the weakest of the four. Grofield was a minor character in a couple of Parker novels (specifically the Handle). The Parker series consists of 24 novels about a tough-as- nails thief. Grofield is also a thief, but a different kind of character. Grofield lives in a small midwestern town and his first love is acting. He runs a small community theater with his wife, but makes no money at it, supporting his acting profession with heists, sometimes with Parker. Grofield is humorous and always has some light banter, making him quite a bit different than Parker.

The story starts out with a bang. Grofield is involved in an armored car robbery that goes south when the getaway car crashes. Grofield wakes in a hospital, being questioned by CIA type operatives. Either Grofield becomes a spy against two Third World leaders he has been connected to in the past or he does hard time. Grofield is at his witty best as he verbally spars with the agents assigned to him and as he attempts to make a getaway during a plane change at JFK. In Quebec where the rendezvous is to take place, Grofield is caught between warring bands of agents and is ultimately on no one’s side but his own. Despite the secret goings on, the kidnappings, the gun battles, and other high drama, this story lacked the pull and compellingness of the other Grofield books.

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