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Debra Hamel is the mother of two preternaturally attractive girls and the author of a number of books about ancient Greece. She writes and blogs from her subterranean lair in North Haven, CT. Read more.


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THE BATTLE OF ARGINUSAE :
VICTORY AT SEA AND ITS TRAGIC AFTERMATH IN THE FINAL YEARS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
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KILLING ERATOSTHENES:
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READING HERODOTUS:
A GUIDED TOUR THROUGH THE WILD BOARS, DANCING SUITORS, AND CRAZY TYRANTS OF THE HISTORY
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UNPACKING AN ANCIENT MYSTERY
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TRYING NEAIRA:
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THE MILITARY HEROICS OF AN ICONIC INTELLECTUAL
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ANCIENT GREEKS IN DRAG:
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IT WAS A DARK AND STORMY TWEET:
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PRISONERS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
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Stark, Richard: The Hunter

  Amazon  

4 stars

The Hunter, first published in 1962, is the first book in Richard Stark's series featuring professional thief and sometime killer Parker. When we first meet him, Parker is just arriving in New York fresh from a jail break, broke and looking for revenge against a former accomplice. Mal Resnick double-crossed Parker after a heist, stole his share of a $90,000 payoff, and left him for dead in a burning building. We follow Parker as he hunts the guy down and looks to replenish his stores of cash.

Richard Stark--a.k.a. Donald E. Westlake--published more than twenty Stark novels before he died in 2008. I've read two of the later books in the series--Ask the Parrot and Nobody Runs Forever--and was curious to learn how Parker's adventures began. Judging from this book only, it seems that the Parker who emerged in the 1960's was a coarser figure than in later books, less cerebral, an all-around nastier fellow, more likely to kill than in later books. And the writing in this first outing seems to have a darker edge to it. Here Stark is introducing Parker:

"The office women looked at him and shivered. They knew he was a bastard, they knew his big hands were born to slap with, they knew his face would never break into a smile when he looked at a woman. They knew what he was, thanked God for their husbands, and still they shivered. Because they knew how he would fall on a woman in the night. Like a tree."

Hmm. It will be interesting to see how the character of Parker develops across the series. So far I prefer the Parker I met in the later books, but it's hardly a surprise that the books and Parker himself should have changed a bit in character after nearly fifty years.

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