The Green Eagle Score by Richard Stark (aka Donald Westlake)

Richard Stark / THE GREEN EAGLE SCORE 1967 | eBay

It appears that as Stark (aka Westlake) went forward with the Parker series, his ideas about heists got wilder and crazier. Bank robberies and mansion robberies were one thing, but Stark had Parker go on to pull jobs on entire towns (“The Score”) and entire islands (“The Handle”) before deciding that it was time for Parker to take on the U.S. Air Force itself. Well, not exactly take on the air force, more like, take on the payroll of a large air force base. Apparently, in those crazy days, the payroll was in cash and it was big: $400,000 of big. It’s a crazy scheme that only a madman would think he could pull off and that’s before one stopped to think of all the problems that might crop up such as armed air police, one partner dating another partner’s ex- wife, the ex-wife spilling the scheme to her psychiatrist, make that her monetarily-desperate psychiatrist who has a deep fascination with all the details of the caper and knows people who might also be interested.

It is a well-written story that moves quickly as do all of the Parker novels. You really can’t go wrong picking up any of the 24 Parker novels or the 4 related Grofield novels by Richard Stark.

If you want insight into Parker’s character, you get it in the very first scenes he is with his girlfriend, Claire, in San Juan, Puerto Rico, where they are vacationing at a beachfront resort, her in her bikini, him upstairs talking to a pal who came by to talk about a scheme: the air force base scheme. Parker and Claire have a deal, she doesn’t ask him about his work and he doesn’t volunteer any information. Parker tells Claire that he is going for a few days to check things out and will probably be back soon, but, if the thing works out, if it looks good, then it might be a week or two. Parker also tells her that the rent on the hotel room is paid up for a month and, if he is not back by then, take what’s in the hotel safe, and go on to wherever. She understands, but doesn’t like it.

A lot of the book, as in many of the Parker novels, is concerned with planning the caper and how Parker assesses the others involved in the operation and whether the amateur involved (the inside man) is up to the task.

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