From the call to attention in the opening sentence (“When the phone rang, Parker was in the garage, killing a man”) to the decision on the last page that one more killing would be overkill, Parker, the poster boy for bad behavior, leads a nonexemplary life. He’s agreed in his 24th outing (Flashfire, 2000, etc.) to participate with Frank Elkins, Ralph Wiss, and Larry Lloyd in their plans to burgle Paxton Marino’s Montana hunting lodge and remove Grand Master paintings from its hidden art gallery. But first he has to find out who sent this morning’s dead man after him. Indicators point to old foes Paul Brock and Matt Rosenstein, who with the help of one of Lloyd’s ill-advised computer files have traced Parker to his friend Claire’s upstate house. While Parker eliminates his potential eliminators, the art theft is put on hold, but not without incident. Lloyd’s grip on reality is slipping and his potential for violence escalating, and Marino himself has attracted the attention of the ATF, the state troopers, and other itchy-fingered law-enforcers. Security gizmos are detonated; Ford Tauruses are stolen; bad guys come and worse guys go; and there are so many snafus that you’d be forgiven for thinking John Dortmunder, the accident-prone thief who headlines the comic capers Stark writes under his real name of Donald E. Westlake, was planning things—until the body count rises, and the impassive, nonchalantly brutal Parker hauls off the loot while the Feds et al. bury their dead.
Tough, taut, and sublimely bad-tempered.