Friday, August 13, 2010

Forgotten Friday: Point Blank (The Hunter) by Richard Stark (Allison and Busby, 1962)

Parker is out for justice.  He’s been doublecrossed, shot by his wife, and left for dead in a house set on fire by his partner after holing up after a successful robbery.  After escaping the blaze he spends time on a chain-gang for vagrancy, before killing a guard and setting off country for revenge and his share of the take.  It doesn’t take long to find his wife or his former partner.  Mal Resnick has used the money to payback the Outfit and buy his way into being a made man.  Parker doesn’t care who has his money, he wants it back, even if he has to take on the whole of New York Outfit to get it.  And if that means that people end up badly injured or dead, well so be it. 

Originally published as The Hunter, Point Blank is the first of 24 novels written by Donald Westlake under the pseudonym, Richard Stark, which mostly concentrate on the Parker character, but four of which focus on a Parker accomplice, Alan Grofield.  Parker’s an interesting character, mainly because he’s so one-dimensional.  He’s a ruthless, thuggish, though by no means dumb, criminal who’s determined to get his way and is prepared to do whatever it takes to achieve that, almost exclusively through violence.  There’s very little sentiment or reflection in his actions, and he has his own code of justice, which mainly consists of seeking revenge and compensation against anybody who crosses him, and helping himself to whatever takes his fancy.  Stark’s writing is all tell and no show; like Parker himself, lean and mean, perfectly expressing the dark, amoral underworld in which Parker operates.  The story is compelling, interweaving the story of the doublecross with that of the revenge, and the narrative hurtles along at a terrific pace through its 154 pages.  The only shortcoming was the notable absence - Parker is leaving a trail of destruction in his wake and yet the police, and their efforts to track him down, are missing.  They may have been several steps behind, but they were almost certainly on his trail, and their investigation would have made a solid third leg to the story.  Otherwise, Point Blank, is an entertaining blast of a read.  


pattinase (abbott) said...

I've been nipping away at him here and there, but not this series yet.

Paul D Brazill said...

Still never read him. I've got a lot of catching up to do