Butcher’s Moon by Richard Stark

Butcher’s Moon, published in 1974, is the 16th entry in the Parker series of hard-boiled crime novels. This one is a kind of summing up, since Parker recruits many of the guys he’s worked with on previous jobs to help him destroy a criminal organization in a Midwestern city. And the next Parker novel wasn’t published for 23 years. 

The situation in this one is that Parker and his fellow thieves stole $73,000 a few years ago, but had to leave the money behind. He goes back to get the money where he hid it, but it’s not there anymore. He figures it was the local crooks who took his money, so he tells them he wants it back. They don’t cooperate. Obviously a mistake. 

Butcher’s Moon has too many characters, too many corpses and too many implausibilities, but it’s worth reading if you like this kind of thing. In the last chapter, Parker doesn’t say a word. Other people do the talking. That’s a fitting ending, since Parker only talks when he has something to say, using as few words as possible.  (3/30/12)

The Outfit by Richard Stark

Richard Stark (whose real name is Donald Westlake) has written twenty novels about Parker, a very tough guy who steals for a living. The Outfit is the third novel in the series. In this one, the Outfit (aka the Organization or the Syndicate) wants Parker dead, but Parker isn’t easy to get rid of. 

Parker quickly disposes of the guy sent to kill him and then comes up with a plan to get the Outfit off his back. The plan has two parts: (1) Parker and his fellow thieves will steal a lot of money from the Outfit and (2) Parker will replace the head of the Outfit with somebody who will agree to leave Parker alone if Parker and his pals stop stealing from the Outfit. The plan works.  (2/15/12)

The Man with the Getaway Face by Richard Stark

Tough guy Parker needs a new face because he’s in trouble with the Outfit. He gets his new face but keeps his old attitude toward other people: “They were in and he worked with them or they were out and he ignored them or they were trouble and he took care of them”.  

This is the second in the long series of novels about Parker, who steals for a living. The time is 1963. The target is an armored car. Parker doesn’t like the setup but he needs the money. The plot doesn’t make a lot of sense, but Parker is always fun to be around, so long as he’s “taking care” of someone else.  (12/27/11)