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After the publication of Butcher's Moon in 1974, Donald Westlake said, “Richard Stark proved to me that he had a life of his own by simply disappearing. He was gone.” And readers waited.
But nothing bad is truly gone forever, and Parker’s as bad as they come. According to Westlake, one day in 1997, “suddenly, he came back from the dead, with a chalky prison pallor”—and the novels that followed showed that neither Parker nor Stark had lost a step.
Backflash finds Parker checking out the scene on a Hudson River gambling boat. Parker’s no fan of either relaxation or risk, however, so you can be sure he’s playing with house money—and he’s willing to do anything to tilt the odds in his favor. Featuring a great cast of heisters, a striking setting, and a new introduction by Westlake’s close friend and writing partner, Lawrence Block, this classic Parker adventure deserve a place of honor on any crime fan’s bookshelf.
“Parker . . . lumbers through the pages of Richard Stark’s noir novels scattering dead bodies like peanut shells. . . . In a complex world [he] makes things simple.”
— William Grimes
“Whatever Stark writes, I read. He’s a stylist, a pro, and I thoroughly enjoy his attitude.”
— Elmore Leonard
“Richard Stark’s Parker novels . . . are among the most poised and polished fictions of their time and, in fact, of any time.”
— John Banville
“Parker is a true treasure. . . . The master thief is back, along with Richard Stark.”
— Marilyn Stasio
“Westlake knows precisely how to grab a reader, draw him or her into the story, and then slowly tighten his grip until escape is impossible.”
— Washington Post
“Elmore Leonard wouldn’t write what he does if Stark hadn’t been there before. And Quentin Tarantino wouldn’t write what he does without Leonard. . . . Old master that he is, Stark does all of them one better.”
— Los Angeles Times
“Donald Westlake’s Parker novels are among the small number of books I read over and over. Forget all that crap you’ve been telling yourself about War and Peace and Proust—these are the books you’ll want on that desert island.”
— Lawrence Block
“Richard Stark writes a harsh and frightening story of criminal warfare and vengeance with economy, understatement and a deadly amoral objectivity—a remarkable addition to the list of the shockers that the French call roman noirs.”
— Anthony Boucher
"Parker is a brilliant invention. . . . What chiefly distinguishes Westlake, under whatever name, is his passion for process and mechanics. . . . Parker appears to have eliminated everything from his program but machine logic, but this is merely protective coloration. He is a romantic vestige, a free-market anarchist whose independent status is becoming a thing of the past."
— Luc Sante
"I wouldn't care to speculate about what it is in Westlake's psyche that makes him so good at writing about Parker, much less what it is that makes me like the Parker novels so much. Suffice it to say that Stark/Westlake is the cleanest of all noir novelists, a styleless stylist who gets to the point with stupendous economy, hustling you down the path of plot so briskly that you have to read his books a second time to appreciate the elegance and sober wit with which they are written."
— Terry Teachout
"If you're a fan of noir novels and haven't yet read Richard Stark, you may want to give these books a try. Who knows? Parker may just be the son of a bitch you've been searching for."
— John McNally
"The University of Chicago Press has recently undertaken a campaign to get Parker back in print in affordable and handsome editions, and I dove in. And now I get it."
— Josef Braun
"Whether early or late, the Parker novels are all superlative literary entertainments."
— Terry Teachout
“The UC Press mission, to reprint the 1960s Parker novels of Richard Stark (the late Donald Westlake), is wholly admirable. The books have been out of print for decades, and the fast-paced, hard-boiled thrillers featuring the thief Parker are brilliant.”
— H. J. Kirchoff
“Fiercely distracting . . . . Westlake is an expert plotter; and while Parker is a blunt instrument of a human being depicted in rudimentary short grunts of sentences, his take on other characters reveals a writer of great humor and human understanding.”
— John Hodgman