Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Review: The Handle

The Handle The Handle by Richard Stark
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This is a real let down after The Seventh, which had always been one of my favorites in the Parker series by Richard Stark (Donald Westlake). The setup is actually quite good as The Outfit has hired Parker to take out a competitor who's operating a casino on a private island (owned by Cuba) 45 miles off the coast of Galveston, Texas. They want Parker to rob the casino and its operator of everything and then burn the place down. Parker does recon and hires a crew and buys weapons. Unbeknownst to both The Outfit and Parker, the casino operator, Wolfgang Baron, is also under surveillance by the Feds because he's a nazi war criminal. The feds make a deal with Parker: we leave you alone and let you do your robbery, but we want you to deliver Baron to us. And that's the kicker as the story shifts gears from setup to heist. From this point on the novel seemed rushed and more expository as the narrative disappointingly shifts away from Parker's POV into first Grofield's (a character from The Score who is the lead in another four book series by Stark) and then Baron's POV, and we experience the heist and its aftermath from those two POVs and don't come back to Parker until the final twenty pages of the novel. And that wrap-up is somewhat perfunctory and extremely anti-climactic. So I'm not a real fan of this one.

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