Waiting for his new associates to divvy up the proceeds from a Nebraska bank heist with him, Parker, the toughest professional criminal not behind bars, learns there are no proceeds: The boys plan on using it to finance their next job—stealing 12 million dollars’ worth of jewelry in Palm Beach. Is Parker in or out? Out, he says, and leaves broke, plotting their destruction. Looting his way cross-country, Parker has the bad luck to pick up new identity papers just in time to cross paths with another customer who wants all witnesses to his transaction dead. Parker enters Palm Beach as Daniel Parmitt with assassins dogging him. Using real-estate agent Leslie Mackenzie’s information, Parker locates the Nebraska boys’ mansion hideout and identifies the charity auction of the late Miriam Hope Clendon’s jewelry collection as their target. Meanwhile, the killers catch up, drive him through the Everglades, and leave him for dead. Another assassin has a shot at him, but Parker lives on to hide in his former cohorts’ mansion. Only now the boys have captured Leslie, the cops are closing in, and a final shootout leaves few standing, though Parker and the Snake City sheriff reaching a professional accommodation.
Stark’s 23rd primer (Backflash, 1998, etc.) on moving money, disarming firing pins and alarm systems, stealing cars, and maiming without giving personal offense contains exquisitely pungent gangster dialogue. But the author’s blithe disdain for plausibility and an unfortunate sequence with paramilitarists would better suit his alter ego Donald E. Westlake’s comic capers.