After reading Donald Westlake's The Hot Rock (read my review), a humorous crime novel about a gang of professional thieves who repeatedly bungle a jewel heist, I picked up Westlake's The Hunter, a much less funny, but equally enjoyable, 1962 novel about a sociopathic thief named Parker, who is the main character in many of Westlake's crime stories. (Westlake wrote the Parker series under the pen name Richard Stark, one of many pen names he adopted during his prolific career.)
The Hunter is about Parker's quest to get revenge on a partner who ripped him off and tried to have him killed right after Parker and his crew robbed a gang of arms smugglers. Parker doesn't let anyone impede his mission, even if it means killing an innocent person who just happens to be in the way.
At one point while reading The Hunter I contemplated abandoning it because I was bothered by Parker's psychotic disregard for human life, but two reasons kept me going. One, the people that Parker is going after are even more despicably inhuman than he is. And two, Westlake is such a terrific writer I couldn't stop myself from reading to find our what happens.
Parker fits in with the current crop of charismatic sociopaths that headline shows like Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, Mad Men, and Dexter. I guess their appeal is that even though they are awful people, they have just enough humanity to make you care what happens to them without actually rooting for them. It takes a skilled writer to create bad people that you care about, and Westlake is one of the greats. I've started the second novel in the Parker series. I'll let you know what I think when I'm finished reading it.
The Hunter: A Parker Novel, by Richard Stark
Well this is pretty great! Radicalized, my book of four novellas, is one of the CBC's picks for best Canadian fiction of 2019. It's in pretty outstanding company, too, including Margaret Atwood's The Testaments.
Here’s 28 of our favorites from the last year – not all of them published in the last year, mind you – from fairy-tales to furious politics and everything in between, including the furious fairy-tale politics getting between everything. The links here include Amazon Affiliate codes; this helps us make ends meet at Boing Boing, […]
When I was younger, I would feel so badly about abandoning a book that didn’t grab me, I’d force myself to slog through it until the bitter end. Then I realized that there are only so many books I’ll have time to read in my lifetime so it’s better to make each one count. If […]
So you missed Black Friday and Cyber Monday? Well, there’s one more holiday milestone coming up: Green Monday, on Dec. 16. It’s one of the busiest online shopping days for the simple reason that it will be 10 days before Christmas, which is when last-minute shoppers start to stress. Our advice? Don’t wait for that […]
Weighted blankets are officially a thing. And if you’ve ever tried one, you know there’s a reason for the fuss. Parents have known for generations that swaddling a baby has a profound calming effect, and the gentle pressure that blanket weights provide can have the same effect on restless sleepers. Pretty much all parts of […]
Walk through any office, and you will likely spot a few bobbleheads. These wobbly figurines are great fun to have around, although most celebrate people we will never meet. For something a little more personal, try Handmade Custom Bobbleheads. These mini caricatures are sculpted and painted by skilled artisans, based on any photo you provide. […]