Sunday, December 07, 2014

Backflash by Richard Stark

(hb; 1998: eighteenth novel in the Parker series)

From the inside flap:

"It's not in Parker's nature to gamble; he steals instead. So when it comes to ripping off a big fat floating gambling casino on the Hudson River, Parker leaves nothing to chance. From the phony politician to the getaway boat, from bringing the guns on board to getting the money off. Parker has it all planned out. There are only a few little problems. . .

"The guy who tipped off Parker in the first place is a bureaucrat who has a moral streak - or a yellow streak - plus a story that doesn't quite add up. The guy who's steering the getaway boat has some unsavory friends who happen to have plenty of guns. And a reporter on the casino has enough sense to know that something on this cruise isn't quite right.

"Suddenly Parker's surefire plan is blowing up like fireworks on the Fourth - only these bangs make people dead. Now with his luck going south and no one left to trust but himself, Parker will do what he does best: punch, claw and kill his way out of the night."


As Parker heists go, this is a relatively smooth one, meaning: there are a few character-based complications and a betrayal or two, but they are relatively minor -- this translates into a lighter-in-tone-than-usual Parker novel. (The writing is still sharp, concise and ruthless, of course, because this is a Stark work.)

Joining Parker this time around are a few series-familiar, distinctive faces: Lou Sternberg and Noelle Braselle from The Mourner, and Dan Wycza and Mike Carlow from Butcher's Moon. These returning characters add an almost-chummy feel to Backflash's thievery as well as its trifling post-heist bumps.

Like all the preceding Parker novels, this is worth owning.

Followed by Flashfire.

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