Find your next favorite book

Become a member today and read free for 30 days
The Hunter: A Parker Novel

The Hunter: A Parker Novel

Read preview

The Hunter: A Parker Novel

3/5 (284 ratings)
229 pages
5 hours
Sep 15, 2009


Written by Scribd Editors

Another mysterious noir that will grab your attention from the first word and not let go.

Seeking revenge on the woman who betrayed him, and dead set on finding the man who took his money, Parker comes roaring into New York City with a debt to settle. He is a thief—and not just any thief. He's a practiced pro, and highly sought after by the people who know what they're doing. He's tough, he's smart, and he stops at nothing to get what he's after...and right now, he's after revenge.

Richard Stark is a master of mystery, suspense, and crime fiction. In The Hunter, the first volume of his series, he brings all of his skill to bear, capturing readers with his ruthless antihero. Recognized for his realism and cutting prose, Stark spins a tale that keeps readers hooked.

Follow Parker in his pursuit for justice—thieving and scamming his way to a resolution he finds fair for what they took from him.

Sep 15, 2009

About the author

Related to The Hunter

Read More From Richard Stark
Related Books
Related Articles

Related categories

Book Preview

The Hunter - Richard Stark




When a fresh-faced guy in a Chevy offered him a lift, Parker told him to go to hell. The guy said, Screw you, buddy, yanked his Chevy back into the stream of traffic, and roared on down to the tollbooths. Parker spat in the right-hand lane, lit his last cigarette, and walked across the George Washington Bridge.

The 8 A.M. traffic went mmmmmm, mmmmmm, all on this side, headed for the city. Over there, lanes and lanes of nobody going to Jersey. Underneath, the same thing.

Out in the middle, the bridge trembled and swayed in the wind. It does it all the time, but he'd never noticed it. He'd never walked it before. He felt it shivering under his feet, and he got mad. He threw the used-up butt at the river, spat on a passing hubcap, and strode on.

Office women in passing cars looked at him and felt vibrations above their nylons. He was big and shaggy, with flat square shoulders and arms too long in sleeves too short. He wore a gray suit, limp with age and no pressing. His shoes and socks were both black and both holey. The shoes were holey on the bottom, the socks were holey at heel and toe.

His hands, swinging curve-fingered at his sides, looked like they were molded of brown clay by a sculptor who thought big and liked veins. His hair was brown and dry and dead, blowing around his head like a poor toupee about to fly loose. His face was a chipped chunk of concrete, with eyes of flawed onyx. His mouth was a quick stroke, bloodless. His suit coat fluttered behind him, and his arms swung easily as he walked.

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, they 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.

The office men drove by, clutching their steering wheels, and hardly noticed him. Just a bum walking on the bridge. Didn't even own a car. A few of them saw him and remembered themselves before they'd made it when they didn't have a car. They thought they were empathizing with him. They thought it was the same thing.

Parker walked across the bridge and turned right. He went down that way one block to the subway hole. All down the street ahead of him were the blacktop and the sidewalks and the gray apartment buildings and the traffic lights at every intersection going from red to green to red. And lots of people, on the move.

He trotted down the steps into the subway hole. The spring sun disappeared, and there were fluorescent lights against cream-shaded tile. He went over to the subway-system map and stood in front of it, scratching his elbow and not looking at the map. He knew where he wanted to go.

The downtown train pulled in, already crowded, and the doors slid back. More people pushed on. Parker turned, yanked open the NO ADMITTANCE door and went on through. Somebody behind him shouted, Hey! Ahead, the subway doors slid at each other. He jumped, ran into the people standing in the car, and the doors met behind him.

He went all the way downtown, got out at Chambers and walked over to the Motor Vehicle Bureau on Worth. On the way, he panhandled a dime from a latent fag with big hips and stopped in a grimy diner for coffee. He bummed a cigarette from the counter girl. It was a Marlboro. He twisted off the filter, threw it on the floor, and stuck the cigarette between his bloodless lips. She lit it for him, leaning over the counter toward him with her breasts high, like an offering. He got the cigarette fired, nodded, dropped the dime on the counter, and went out without a word.

She looked after him, face red with rage, and threw his dime into the garbage. Half an hour later, when the other girl said something to her, she called her a bitch.

Parker went on to the Motor Vehicle Bureau and stood at the long wooden table while he filled out a driver's license form with one of the old-fashioned straight pens. He blotted the form, folded it carefully, and stuck it into his wallet, which was brown leather and completely empty and beat to hell.

He left the Bureau and walked over to the post office, where the federal government was in charge and they had ball-point pens. He took out the license and stood hunched over it, sketching with small quick strokes in the space reserved for the state stamp. The ball-point pen had ink of almost the right color, and Parker's memory of the stamp was clear.

When he was finished, it looked all right for anybody who didn't inspect it closely. It just looked as though the rubber stamp hadn't been inked well enough or had been jiggled when it was pressed to the paper or something. He smudged the damp ink a bit more with his finger, licked the finger clean, and returned the license to his wallet. Then he crumpled and bent the wallet in his hands before putting it back in his hip pocket.

He walked up to Canal Street and went into a bar. It was dark in there, and clammy. The barman and his one customer stopped mumbling down at the end of the bar and looked at him, their expressions like those of fish looking out through the glass wall of a tank.

He went on down, ignoring them, and pushed open the spring door to the men's room. It slammed behind him.

He washed his face and hands in cold water without soap, because there wasn't any hot water and there wasn't any soap. He got his hair wet and pushed it around with his fingers until it looked all right. He stroked his palm up his jawline and felt the stubble, but it didn't show bad yet.

Taking his tie from his inside jacket pocket, he ran it taut through his fingers, to get the wrinkles out of it, and put it on. The wrinkles still showed. He had a safety pin attached to the lining of his jacket. He took it and pinned the tie to the shirt, where it wouldn't show. Pulled down that way, and with the jacket closed, it looked pretty good. And you couldn't see that the shirt was dirty any more.

He wet his fingers at the sink again, and forced the approximation of a crease into his pant legs, stroking down again and again until a vague line showed and stayed there. Then he looked at himself in the mirror.

He didn't look like any Rockefeller, but he didn't look like a bum either. He looked like a hard worker who never got out of the mailroom. Good enough. It would have to do.

He got out the driver's license one last time and dropped it on the floor. He squatted beside it, and patted the license here and there on the floor till it was reasonably dirty. Then he crumpled it some more, brushed the excess dirt off, and put it back in his wallet. One last rinsing of his hands, and he was ready to leave.

The bartender and his customer stopped mumbling again as he went by, but he didn't notice. He went back out into the sunlight and headed uptown and west, looking for just the right bank. He needed a bank that would have a lot of customers of the type he was faking.

When he found the one he wanted, he paused for a second and concentrated on rearranging his face. He stopped looking mean and he stopped looking mad. He kept working at it, and when he was sure he looked worried he went on into the bank.

There were four desks to his left, two of them occupied by middle-aged men in business suits. One of them was talking with an old woman in a cloth coat who was having trouble with English. Parker went straight over to the other and added a smile to the worried expression.

Hello, he said, making his voice softer than usual. I got a problem, and maybe you can help me. I've lost my checkbook, and I can't remember my account number.

No problem at all, said the man, with a professional smile. If you'll just give me your name. . . .

Edward Johnson, said Parker, giving him the name he'd put on the license. He hauled his wallet out. I've got identification. Here. He handed over the license.

The man looked at it, nodded, handed it back. Fine, he said. That was a special account?

That's right.

One minute, please. He picked up his phone, talked into it for a minute, and waited, smiling reassurance at Parker. Then he talked a few seconds more and looked puzzled. He capped the phone mouthpiece with his hand and said to Parker, "There’s no record of your account here. Are you sure it's a special account? No minimum balance?"

Try the other kind, said Parker.

The man continued to look puzzled. He talked into the phone a while longer, then hung up, frowning. There's no record of any account at all under that name.

Parker got to his feet. He grinned and shrugged. Easy come, easy go, he said.

He walked out, and the man at the desk kept staring after him, frowning.

In the fourth bank he tried, Edward Johnson had a special checking account. Parker got the account number and the present balance, and a new checkbook to replace the one he'd lost. Edward Johnson only had six hundred dollars and change in his account. Parker felt sorry for him.

He left the bank, went into a men's clothing store, and bought a suit and a shirt and a tie and socks and shoes. He paid by check. The clerk compared the signature with the one on his driver's license, and called the bank to see if he had enough cash in his account to cover the check. He

You've reached the end of this preview. Sign up to read more!
Page 1 of 1


What people think about The Hunter

284 ratings / 20 Reviews
What did you think?
Rating: 0 out of 5 stars

Critic reviews

  • Start from the beginning of the 24 novels by Donald Westlake writing under the pseudonym of Richard Stark. His star protagonist, Parker, is a ruthless thug of a man who slugs his way through life with a focused criminal efficiency. Westlake's lean and unadorned writing style paints a portrait of an uncompromising brute who is devoid of extraneous emotion. If you like hard-boiled crime novels you'll devour every page.

    Scribd Editors

Reader reviews

  • (4/5)
    I liked this book OK when I read it and then more after my book club discussed it. It's a pretty riveting, masterfully constructed anti-hero thriller that I'd recommend to every crime reader.
  • (4/5)
    I first became aware of the character of Parker, celebrated and brutal mid-century modern antihero, through Darwin Cooke's amazing graphic novel adaptations of this and two other novels. Well, of course I did! Although I still haven't seen the adaptation of this one; the story is brand new.

    So the tone and content of Parker's first story, The Hunter, had little to shock me (though I won't say it had nothing to shock me, because I can't. Some early plot developments made my jaw drop), but that's not to say the novel itself did not.

    It's a weird, weird thing to do, reading crime fiction from fifty years ago. It's still shocking*, still thrilling, but probably not in the way the author intended. The modern reader is largely desensitized to the brutality, but becomes shocked by, and perhaps a little disbelieving of, the ease with which so many of Parker's crimes are committed. In the first chapter, he forges a driver's license with just a form he picks up at the DMV and a ballpoint pen, commits check fraud multiple times, kits himself out in style, and checks into a nice Manhattan hotel. No photo ID required for any of it. Once or twice a store phones the bank he has duped into giving him some other guy's checkbook to make sure the funds are there, but that's it.

    So yes, that's right: The Hunter's power to shock the modern reader lies in its status as a study in the freedoms we've all had to give up because of amoral asshats like Parker. One can almost hear the heavy metal security doors slamming behind him, from the perspective of 2012.** To say nothing of the trust extended toward strangers -- though of course the kind of trust from which Parker benefits in his early chapter identity theft spree was only ever really extended to confident, well-dressed white men, wasn't it? So once the shock of watching him proceed this way wore off this reader, it was well-nigh impossible not to think, in part, serves the jerks (those would be his dupes) right for having that kind of attitude. Even though, yes, yes, they all did and it was the social norm of the time, blah blah.

    I told you reading mid-century modern crime fiction was a weird experience for a post-millennial girl.

    It's also, though, a weirdly rewarding one, a short burst of action and speed and relentless drive, to watch Parker hunt down his double-crossing partners who let him take the (supposedly fatal) fall for a complicated theft that involved deserted landing strips, cross-border munitions shipments, South American revolutionaries, and, of course, murder. It's hard not to be gleeful as he shakes down the people whom those partners threw up between him and his targets like so many human roadblocks, though of course one has qualms about innocent dupes being so treated.

    This all means that Richard Stark (real name Donald Westlake, and what a prolific son-of-a-gun that guy was) achieves quite a lot in a small space. His first novel with his signature character as Stark may even be a richer read for us post-millennials than it was for the thrill-seekers who pulled it off a drugstore paperback spinner "back in the day."

    But of course, I would say that, wouldn't I?

    *Largely due to its depiction of both Parker's and his foes' seriously brutal treatment of the women in thier lives, the casual violence, the contempt, the commodification. "Mysogyny" feels like too weak a word to describe it. Eugh.

    **Of course one knows that these losses took place gradually and slowly, though at increasing speed since we declared war on yet another intangible at the beginning of this century. Give it another decade and people will barely remember a time when they didn't have to bring reams of proof of identity to get a driver's license.
  • (5/5)
    Parker, no first name, no last name. Shot five times by his wife and his friend Mal and left for dead with the house burning down around him, Parker has somehow crawled through the wreckage, pilfered a wallet or two, opened a checking account in someone else's name, and kited the checks into a grubstake. Parker is not to be trifled with. He's out for revenge, retribution, and his $45,000 share of the loot that his wife and Mal absconded with.

    Parker is a raging dynamo and a moody, hulk of a man who doesn't need any weapons to kill, just his bare hands. Even toughs hired by the Outfit stand no chance on his warpath. It's as if Conan the Cimmerian was reborn as a twentieth century bank robber. There's no soft inner core to Parker. But then again, after being shot five times and set on fire, who would really be willing to listen to reason. He's told the Outfit is like the Postal Service, coast to coast, so what. Parker wants his money and no one is going to stand in his way.

    This is a full-on action story from beginning to end with no breaks. In sparse language, Westlake (aka Richard Stark) has created some really great characters.
  • (4/5)
    I've read lots of Donald Westlake and enjoyed every one. If I read anything by Richard Stark in the past, I don't remember it. But, after reading The Hunter, as hard-boiled a story as I think there can be, I'll definitely be reading more.
  • (5/5)
    This is the book that was the inspiration for two fantastic movies; Point Blank with Lee Marvin and Payback with Mel Gibson (Point Blank being the better of the two, of course), but while enjoying both films multiple times, I had somehow never read any of the Parker stories. I figured it was past time to fix that oversight.Here we have the first Parker story. Who is Parker? He's just a thief. However, in this book, he's all about revenge. Turns out, his last job went very wrong when his partner decided to double cross him and leave him for dead. Unfortunately for said partner, he should have made sure Parker didn't survive. And with that, the tale of revenge and the quest for Parker's cut of his last job begins.I really like Parker as a character. He's a very smart guy. He never steals more than he needs at any given time to live comfortably and he tries to work with people he knows. He's tough, but fair. He gives most people he threatens every chance to get out alive, but they often still manage to do something stupid. You would think just word of mouth would make it clear that you don't mess with Parker, but everyone seems to take him for granted or think they are somehow smarter than he is. They are not.This is classic crime fiction at its best.
  • (5/5)
    The best compliment I can give the "Parker" novels by Donald E. Westlake is to admit that they've completely hijacked my usual schedule of reading and reviewing contemporary novels for the CCLaP website; originally planned to be a fun airplane diversion when I flew from Chicago to New Orleans and back about three weeks ago, I ended up reading the first book in the series, 1962's The Hunter, from start to finish in just half a day, and have since been greedily devouring the rest at a rate of a book or two every week, blowing off all my other reading commitments no matter how much I realize I shouldn't. (Sorry, all you authors who are patiently waiting for your book to be reviewed at CCLaP.)That's high praise indeed from someone who usually doesn't like crime novels that much, with the key being that the main character is just so utterly fascinating, who like Ayn Rand's Howard Roark is less a real human being and more an example of the "theoretically perfect" version of the philosophy the author is trying to espouse (Stoicism here in the case of Westlake, versus Objectivism in the case of Rand). A professional thief who only pulls off one heist a year (netting him in today's terms somewhere between a quarter-million and a half-million dollars each time), so that he can spend the other 51 weeks lounging poolside at resort hotels and having rough sex with trust-fund blue-bloods with a taste for danger, Parker doesn't give even the tiniest little fuck about anything or anyone that falls outside of this monomaniacal routine, never negotiates nor compromises when it comes to his take or who he'll work with, doesn't have even the slightest hesitation about torturing or killing people who get in his way (yet avoids doing it anyway, simply because physical abuse is the "lazy" way to get what one wants, and being lazy is the first step towards getting caught), and possesses a psychotic distaste for such banal activities like "talking" and "having friends" or "acknowledging the inherent worth of the human race." (A true misanthrope, these pre-PC novels are not for the linguistically faint at heart, filled on every page with dismissive contempt for women, homosexuals, and people of color; although in Parker's "defense," such as it is, he also displays such contempt for most of the straight white males he meets too.)There are 24 novels in the Parker series (which Westlake published under the pen-name "Richard Stark"), most from the '60s and early '70s, the series then activated again in the late '90s and up until Westlake's death in 2008; but the first three form a trilogy of sorts, in that they all concern one overarching storyline that spans from one book to the next, and so make a tidy reading experience for those who are curious about the series but don't want to make a 24-book commitment. (Most of the others are franchise-style standalone stories that each follow a similar blueprint -- Parker decides on his heist for that year, Parker obsessively plans out his heist for that year, then everything goes to hell when Parker actually tries pulling off his heist for that year.) The first, The Hunter, will seem familiar to many because it's been made into a movie so many times (including 1967's Point Blank with Lee Marvin, 1999's Payback with Mel Gibson, and 2013's Parker with Jason Statham); in it, we pick up a year after a heist that went bad because of a duplicitous partner, who needed both his share and Parker's in order to pay back the Mafia for an old job gone bad, the novel itself consisting of Parker basically crisscrossing the country and getting his revenge on every person who had been involved, eventually provoking the ire of the Mafia when he insists that they pay him back the money that had been stolen from him, even though they had nothing to do with the actual theft. The second book, then, 1963's The Man With the Getaway Face, sees Parker get plastic surgery in order to stay out of the glare of the Mafia's nationwide murder contract they now have out on him, just to have his new face divulged to the Mafia at the very end; so then in the third novel, The Outfit from later that same year, Parker decides to get the Mafia off his tail once and for all, enlisting his buddies-in-crime to pull off Mafia-victim heists across the country to the modern tune of ten million dollars in a single month, while he tracks down and kills the head of the entire organization by breaking into a mansion that's been weaponized like a fortress, after affecting a promise from the number-two in charge that he'll end the persecution if Parker does him this "favor."Like Parker himself, these novels are quick and lean, part of what makes them so obsessively readable; Westlake had a real talent for stripping narratives down to just their bare essentials, then cleverly invented a character for whom this fast-paced minimalism works perfectly, a true human monster but one you can't help but root for anyway, if for no other reason than because he has zero tolerance for the chatty bullshit and regards for acquaintances' feelings that you as a non-psychotic are forced to deal with in your own schmucky non-bank-robbing life. (Stupid schmucky non-bank-robbing life!) Unfortunately my obsessive focus on these books must come to an end soon -- I simply have to get back to the novels I'm "supposed" to be reading, plus I can already tell by the fifth book that this series gets a lot more formulaic as it continues, which I bet will dampen my enthusiasm on its own -- but I couldn't let the opportunity pass by to mention how unexpectedly thrilled I was by at least the first few books in the lineup, picked up on a whim completely randomly but that have turned out to be some of my favorite reading experiences of the entire last year. They come strongly recommended whenever you have some downtime soon, especially to those like me who aren't natural fans of this genre to begin with.
  • (3/5)
    I'm pretty sure I saw this many years ago as a movie and a little research indicated I was right: Point Blank (1967) and Payback with Mel Gibson (1997?). I believe I only saw the Gibson version.

    Hard to believe that Richard Stark is a pseudonym for Donald Westlake who writes such humorous novels. The Parker novels are anything but. In this, one of the first Parker stories, he has been left for dead, shot by his wife, saved only by his silver belt buckle (!!!). Parker would not hesitate himself to double-cross his partners, but he's nevertheless peeved and embarks on revenge tracking down Mel who had conspired with Lynn, his wife.

    The writing is a little stark (sorry, couldn't resist) but more than competent, and despite the archaic nature of the content it's like surrendering to the early fifties world of noir. Grab a couple of these for any trip. You will not be disappointed as they will make you forget just about any economy airline seat.

    I wish they would bring out the whole series as ebooks so they would quite going out of print only to be resurrected a few years later.
  • (3/5)
    Some other review said Parker could kick Jack Reacher's ass - I disagree wholeheartedly - Reacher is 3 times the man that Parker is. Not sure if I will bother reading the next in the series, there is really nothing likeable or redeeming about Parker, and he's not even just a cool bad guy.
  • (4/5)
    First time reading a Richard Stark (aka Donald E. Westlake) novel. Main character, Parker, is most certainly an antihero -- a thief who seeks revenge on the criminals who double-crossed him on a job. Very noir... and also dated, as set in New York in the 60s. Short and fun little book to read; will probably read other Parker books in the future.
  • (5/5)
    The Hunter is the first book in the series by Richard Stark (AKA Donald Westlake), which has been touted by other writers for years. Stark has been praised for his taut and lean prose style. There are no flourishes in his storytelling, but the leanness is part of what makes what makes this series great. The other element is, of course, the character of Parker himself. He makes Jack Reacher look like a little schoolgirl.

    In The Hunter we are introduced to Parker, as he makes his way into New York City seeking revenge. It seems he was double-crossed after his last job and, to make matters worse, his wife was in on it. He was left for dead, but he couldn't rest until he found those who upset his well-organized, yet criminal existence. Parker will not let anything, or anyone stand in his way of satisfaction. He is brutal and dispassionate, as he makes his way towards Mal Resnick, the object of his fury. And even then his anger is not quelled.
  • (4/5)
    A fast and relatively short read - 208 pages. Not surprising for a crime novel of its vintage. Thoroughly enjoyable even if the hero (as in central character) is a very nasty man. Was made into a movie as Point Blank with Lee Marvin and Angie Dickinson which seems very appropriate to me! In a way Parker reminds me of Reacher - remotely.A great quick read.
  • (3/5)
    Although there is considerable charm to this noirest of noir crime books, and the furious pace and stylistic dialogue notwithstanding, the problem I have with it is that the protagonist is written as a psychopath. I quite like anti-heroes, and have a soft spot for hard men (you'll pardon the pun), but I like my anti-heroes with a modicum of morality, a soupcon of sentiment, a hint of humor and heart. Parker's indifference to the women in the book is unsettling, to say the least, including the woman he "accidentally" kills. Vengeance is all well and good, I suppose, and retribution has its place, but not to be even slightly ambivalent about the suicide of his wife (even if she did shoot him and leave him for dead) leaves this reader with no choice but to conclude he has no emotions whatsoever, and such a soul-dead protagonist is of limited interest. Anti-heros are at their best when they are complicated, conflicted and are capable of deep feeling. A quick afternoon read. No more.
  • (4/5)
    Sparse and brutal. Somehow you end up liking Parker, despite the harm he does.I love a good Noir, and this one was a quick, enjoyable read. I'll have to look at this more closely, as a writer, to understand how chopped up the narrative is (POV, flashbacks, etc.) to keep up the tension.Liked it a lot.
  • (4/5)
    It's fast and furious. A bad-guy gets double crossed and sets out to 'fix' those who double crossed him. And that's exactly what he does, leaving a trail of bodies behind.Very similar to Child's Reacher (though Reacher is a good guy) or Block's Keller. I'm definitely gonna read more in the series and hope it stays politics and moral free.
  • (4/5)
    canonical pulp: very tough guy with no remorses playing hard, in a straight-forward story, fast-paced and action-packed. I am not really into the genre, but this book was pretty well written and was enjoyable light reading.
  • (4/5)
    The 1st novel for Richard Stark, one of the greats of the later half of the 20th century. His characterss are tough, brutish and oddly civilized. All with a touch of humor or something like tongue in cheek but still very noir...
  • (5/5)
    With The Hunter, I started reading the Parker series by Robert Stark (nom de plume of Mystery and Science Fiction writer Donald E. Westlake). The 24 novel series began in 1962 and ended with Westlake's death in 2008. The very good crime series is being revived by Amazon Kindle. The new Kindle Apps are nicely integrated with dictionary, translation, and Wikipedia.I remember reading Westlake’s stories in Ellery Queen’s Magazine years ago and liking his simple and direct writing. His characters defined themselves by action and real time introspection. The epitome of this living and thinking in the present time is Parker, the main character of the first novel in the series, The Hunter. He is a large man with a personality founded on solitude and emotional reticence and a mostly single-minded approach to getting what he wants.Parker is committed to a life of often violent criminal activity, felonious robberies, rewarded by months of leisure between crimes at luxury hotels. In The Hunter, Parker is married to the one person in the world he cannot live without. He knows the marriage leaves him vulnerable in the criminal world, but he cannot help himself. Parker and Lynn get involved in a heist and their plans and actions among thieves are good on the surface but treacherous behind the scenes.Westlake’s writing is so good that the reader roots for the success of Parker but realizes from the beginning of the novel that something has gone very wrong with the “job.” I kept looking for more information about the history and motivation of Parker, hard to do when the character is constantly focused on the present criminal activity. He makes decisions and frequently acts out violently but without displays of angry emotions. After his acts, he shows no remorse, attending only to the present challenge.The biggest challenge for Parker in The Hunter is dealing with “the syndicate,” a crime organization that becomes interested in his activities. He does not want anything to do with the criminals in the far-flung group based in New York. But, Parker realizes that you can’t always get what you want in a life based on illegal gains and functional mayhem. He has revenge on his mind for a double cross by a syndicate member.I have already read the next 3 novels in the Parker Kindle series. Each book is short (The Hunter is 208 pages) and fast reading. The payoff for the reader is an understanding of an increasingly complex character with few if any socially redeeming qualities. He does show situational compassion to losers now and again.
  • (5/5)
    Circled back to this one after reading the next five. Those are all pretty good, but this one bests them all — the language is more vivid, Parker is more raw, and as he himself comments, his old patterns have not reasserted themselves. It also retroactively makes Parker scarier in the sequels; he's never a nice guy, but he's never as vicious later as he is in this book.

    One surprise, given that my familiarity comes via Point Break: How little time Parker spends worrying about the money he's owed.
  • (4/5)
    Richard Stark was one of the pseudonyms of Donald E. Westlake (1933-2008), who was a very prolific, and acclaimed, noir crime fiction writer. The Mystery Writers of America bestowed their Grand Master award on Westlake in 1993. In The Hunter (1962), Westlake introduced the Parker character and he subsequently wrote 24 Parker novels, published between 1962 and 2008. These Parker novels are hardboiled crime fiction that presents violent criminals who are likely to punish and/or kill anyone who interferes with their criminal plans. The Parker character that Westlake introduces in this book is perhaps the quintessential example of that ruthless criminal. In this book, Parker and two of his associates steal $90,000, but one of his partners (Mal) tries to murder Parker by shooting him and then burning the building down. Mal also kills the other partner and escapes with the entire take. As you might have guessed, Parker did not die and he comes looking for Mal, who now works for a large criminal organization that used to be known as “The Syndicate” but is now known as “The Outfit” or “The Organization.” Parker wants his share of the money ($45,000) that Mal had taken from him. He believes in a strong code of honor among thieves, and he plans to hunt his cutthroat murderous ex-partner down, and punish him for breaking that code of honor, and then to kill him. He also is determined to get his $45,000, and he will do whatever is necessary to get it. Parker shows no sympathy to those who try to prevent him from accomplishing his mission and he does not hesitate to eliminate anyone who gets in his way. He kills plenty of adversaries in this book, including some high-ranking members of “The Organization” and some collateral casualties. In addition to guns, Parker also uses his hands to dispatch his enemies when necessary or when it feels right to him. The Hunter is a shockingly violent beginning novel in this series. However, Parker is a fascinating and unpredictable character that is compelling to readers who are not deterred by violence. I intend to read more Parker novels, and if you like hardboiled crime novels, I highly recommend that you read this book and the subsequent books by Richard Stark (Donald E. Westlake) in the Parker series.
  • (4/5)
    In the first of the Parker series by Richard Stark—one of prodigiously prolific Donald E. Westlake's many pen names—Parker appears seemingly out of nowhere and makes his way to Manhattan to take his revenge on those who left him for dead after a heist in which some of his partners got too greedy. Originally published in 1962, Westlake clearly redefined the hardboiled genre popularized by Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler with the creation of Parker, a hard-hitting, cold-blooded murdering anti-hero who makes us believe he's serious when he says he's sworn off love for good. No detective he, but a professional thief—one of the best in the business who lets nothing stand in his way. In this case, the plan being to reclaim the money that was stolen from him by "The Outfit", the organized crime gang he takes on singlehandedly so he can secure his future. The bad guys are really creepy and the good guys just don't exist. Fast moving, violent and addictive stuff.