Those Donald E. Westlake books keep on delivering. See Round-Up #1. Here are the ones I’ve stormed through in the last couple of weeks.
Two Parker novels by Richard Stark, a Mitch Tobin mystery by Tucker Coe, and – under Westlake‘s own name – a dark dark contemporary satire plus a bunch of Dortmunder comic caper stories.
The Hunter (1962) is the first Parker novel (of 24), also known under the movie titles Point Blank and Payback. It’s hardboiled, ruthless, lean as a cheetah. You’ve heard all about it. Read it.
Kinds of Love, Kinds of Death (1966) is the first of five Tobin mysteries. Here Westlake goes for a whodunnit rather than his standard caper set-up: an ex-cop hired by the mob to investigate the murder of a boss’s mistress. I liked the character and the set-up, but the whole thing is a bit routine.
The Ax (1997), which is consistently called the best of Westlake’s hundred odd novels, is about a guy who’s been retrenched and goes on a killing spree to wipe out his professional competitors. It’s flawlessly executed satire. Westlake plays it deadpan with his trademark attention to detailed, methodical action. I’m sure this sort of thing happens in ruthless corporate America. And it seems more relevant in the post-GFC era than when it was published.
For light relief I’ve been picking up the Dortmunder stories, some of which I’d already read in old copies of Playboy. And now I’m reading the 11th Parker novel, The Black Ice Score (1968).
I’m not going to run out of Westlake titles any time soon. One guy has – his book-by-book overview of Westlake’s oeuvre is at Do The Math. And don’t forget to keep up with Existential Ennui and The Violent World of Parker.