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ASK THE PARROT by Richard Stark Kirkus Star

ASK THE PARROT

By Richard Stark

Pub Date: Nov. 23rd, 2006
ISBN: 0-89296-068-X

The perils of aiding, abetting and stalking a career criminal.

On the lam after a bank heist goes wrong, Parker (Nobody Runs Forever, 2004, etc.) is one sniff ahead of the bloodhounds when Tom Lindahl and his rifle pop up to invite Parker home to his garage-turned-house in the hamlet of Pooley. Tom’s been nursing a grudge against his former employer, the Gro-More Racetrack, and thinks Parker’s the man to help him rob it. Before they can reconnoiter the property, they must evade the roadblocks set up for Parker by joining the neighborhood posse, to whom Parker introduces himself as Tom’s old buddy Ed Smith. Matters heat up when a pair of brothers, Cal and Corey, recognize “Ed” from the APB and Fred Thiemann, paired with Tom and Parker on stakeout, shoots a derelict, assuming he’s Parker, who must cover up the murder to protect himself. Next, Tom gets cold feet, George is guilt-racked over killing somebody and Cal and Corey crave the millions they think Parker has stashed from the bank robbery. Several will die before Parker exits the racetrack with a duffel bag stuffed with cash and a tracer on the Infiniti he’s taking back to gal-pal Claire in New York.

Stark, Donald E. Westlake’s more menacing alter ego, flaunts his usual wizardry as unobtrusively as if he were ordering from a fast-food menu. The plot is minimalist, the technique superb.