Thursday, October 23, 2014
Lemons Never Lie by Richard Stark
(pb; 1971, 2006: fourth novel in the Alan Grofeld series)
From the back cover:
"When he's not pulling heists with his friend Parker, Alan Grofeld runs a small theater in Indiana. But putting on shows costs money and jobs have been thin, which is why Grofeld agrees to listen to Andrew Myers' plan to knock over a brewery. Unfortunately, Myers' plan is insane - so Grofeld walks out on him. And you don't walk out on Myers."
Lemons is a distinctive - and, along with The Blackbird, one of the best books - in the Alan Grofeld series. What sets Lemons apart from the three previous Grofeld entries is that it also shows Grofeld interacting with his supportive and easygoing wife, Mary (last seen in the Parker novel The Score). When he's with Mary, he's not nearly as caustic or wise-cracking as he is when he's working as a heistman; this shift in personality makes him even more likeable. Even when a murderous amateur (Andrew Myers) forces Grofeld into a tiresome endeavor - getting revenge on Myers, and hopefully some much-needed cash while doing so - Grofeld is tender and loving with his wife, in a way he isn't with his occasional, extramarital women or those he encounters in his criminal works.
This being a Stark novel, there's no wasted words, the action is swift and smart, the characters' core personalities are deftly sketched out and the ending is edgy and memorable - this time with an added amiability, as this is a Grofeld story.
Excellent, hard-to-put-down conclusion to a standout series. Worth owning, these books.