Richard Stark was a pen-name of the prolific Donald E. Westlake. I chose to title the article with the Stark name instead of Westlake’s because it is the Stark persona which was a greater influence on my own work. Much of Westlake’s writing (great as it is) is humorous, whereas Stark’s is brutal.
Parker is one of the truly great running characters, if not the greatest. He is smart, creative, and brutal with a moral code unique to himself. He calls to mind Dashiell Hammett’s Continental Op, but playing for the other side. Master of the complex heist, smooth con, and daring smash-and-grab, Parker could do it all. All he needed was the right crew…which he never seemed to get. Parker’s world is full of back-stabbing, screw-overs, and ultimately, revenge.
Westlake’s writing as Stark created a complex criminal world, but wrote each book with a style lending to the break-neck pace required by the storylines, making for quick reads. Parker was always in the heat of action…heist, screw-over, revenge. The Parker books follow that basic pattern over the twenty-some adventures, but it never loses the reader’s interest…ever.