Sunday, January 18, 2015

Ask the Parrot by Richard Stark


(hb; 2006: twenty-third book in the Parker series)


From the inside flap:

"On a sunny October afternoon a man is running up a hill. He's not dressed for running. Below him are barking police dogs and waiting up ahead is a stranger -- with a rifle, a life full of regrets, and a parrot at home who will mutely witness just how much trouble the runner, Parker, can bring into an ordinary life.

"The rabbit hunter is Tom Lindahl, a small-town lonely heart nursing a big-time grudge against the racetrack that fired him. He knows from the moment he sees Parker that he's met a professional thief -- and a man with murder in his blood. Rescuing Parker from the chase hounds, Lindahl invites the fugitive into his secluded home. He plans to rip off his former employer and exact a deadly measure of revenge -- if he can get Parker to help.

"But Tom doesn't know Parker and that the desperate criminal will do anything to survive -- no matter who has to die."


Review:

Parrot picks up where Nobody Runs Forever left off. Parker, pursued by law enforcement officers and their tracker dogs, is forced to pair up with a loser-by-his-own-reckoning (Tom Lindahl), who wants to rob his old employers, whom, he feels, treated him in a shabby manner.

Once again, I love how Stark changes the situations that Parker finds himself in, exploring new plot, character and creative territories as the series progresses. The first half of  Parrot is, in turns, amusing and annoying (the latter emotion stemming from the actions of the civilians Parker must deal with). (Parts of this section almost feel like a darkly comedic Parker  side novella.) The second half of the novel brings that slow-build desperation (as experienced differently by Parker and Lindahl) together in Stark's ruthless waste-no-action-nor-words fashion.

As with the previous book (Nobody), impatient fans of the series may want to have the next Parker novel -- Dirty Money -- on hand, as Dirty picks up where Parrot leaves off. Worth owning, this.

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