Friday, July 30, 2010

Recent reads

The Green Eagle Score by Richard Stark: Master thief and anti-hero Parker is lounging on the beach in Puerto Rico, when a man comes to him with an interesting proposition. The heist would be one of Parker's most audacious - stealing the entire cash payroll from a large military base in upstate New York. They've got an inside man who can give them the layout and the lowdown, so Parker goes to work crafting an ingenious plan to get them onto the base and into the money. But all the while, the ex-wife of one of the thieves has been leaking information to her psychiatrist... what could possibly go wrong? This was an excellent Parker thriller, Stark clinically lays out the caper, and they characters are well drawn and believable. Paker, of course, is ten feet tall and bulletproof, but that is part of what makes the series so much fun to read. After reading about the meticulous planning for the theft, the narrative rockets into the heist and then inevitably, the moment it all goes wrong. Parker's idea of damage control takes the story to a rollicking conclusion. The Green Eagle Score: A Parker Novel -

The Guards by Ken Bruen: Kicked out of The Guards (the Irish Police force) for habitual drunkenness, Jack Taylor has blundered into becoming an unlicensed private investigator in Galway, in the west of Ireland. Contacted by the mother of a young girl who supposedly killed herself, Jack blunders into a web of danger and intrigue that he is totally unprepared for, as he tries to understand the true nature of the girl's death. This is the first in the Jack Taylor series, one of my favorites, and I am re-reading it in preparation for the new installment being released in the USA next month. Although there is a "mystery" in this and all of the other Taylor novels, the real focus of the book and the series is Jack Taylor himself. An extraordinary creation, plagued by demons and addictions, you can't help but root for him. It's also a very savvy commentary on changing times. When this novel was originally published, Ireland was still in the grip of a booming economy, the "Celtic Tiger." Jack exists in the the netherworld between the ancient traditions of the past and the unknown future. This is one of the best and most unusual private eye novels you will read - sad, funny, scary, it is all of these things and more. The Guards -

The Sour Lemon Score by Richard Stark: Parker puts together a string to rob a bank and armored car. Everything goes well and they make a getaway to the safe house after a successful robbery. Then it all goes straight to hell. Upset by the disappointing take, one of the robbers decides to eliminate his colleagues and take all of the money for himself. He makes just one mistake... he leaves Parker alive. Parker, the master thief and consummate anti-hero tracks the thief up and down the eastern seaboard as other crooks start to smell money, and the chase is on to see who comes away with the loot. I had been reading the Parker novels in order when I stumbled across this one (12th in the series) so I'll have to go back and read the previous two (and try to find the associated Grofield novels.) This story had a very exciting beginning as we're dropped right into the robbery without learning about the planning. There are some great action scenes, especially during the double cross. The perspective shifts to the crook on the run and other crooks looking to muscle in and this slows the momentum a little bit, but when we move back to Parker for the big conclusion, the payoff is worth it. The Sour Lemon Score: A Parker Novel -

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