Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Book Review: Richard Stark, Breakout (2002)

Spoiler Alert! The following review reveals something very, very important that happens on page 6 of this book. Now, having said that, you may not think that spoiling page 6 can be spoiling much, but I found the image of (spoiler alert!) Parker putting his hands on top of his head and meekly submitting to arrest to be stunning (even though, given the title Breakout, I thought it might be coming). Taken collectively, the first 20 Parker novels (Breakout is the 21st) give the lie to the idea that Parker is good at his job. In fact, what they show is that Parker is extraordinarily lucky. Though Parker is portrayed as a smart, cautious thief, he takes so many outlandish chances in so many treacherous situations that he ought to get arrested every 1.5 books or so. (Indeed, it seems likely that it is impossible to be good at Parker’s job if “good” means “skilled enough to make a career out of it without ever going to jail”). But never mind that. It was oddly thrilling to see it finally happen, and then pleasantly surprising to discover that Breakout entails a series of breakouts—at least three, possibly more depending on what you think qualifies. My only regret about this book is that Starklake feels the need to have his characters joke about the fact the first (jail)breakout has simply created situations for further breakouts. Readers could have been trusted to catch on to that. Grade: A

1 comment:

  1. Interesting take on luck versus skill. I've never thought of Parker as lucky or unlucky but do think him skilled. When it comes to problems on the job I always consider his determination and ruthlessness as the deciding factors.