Tag Archives: Donald Westlake aka Richard Stark

Butcher’s Moon

Regular readers of Pulp Curry will be familiar with my obsession with Parker, the fictional master thief created by Richard Stark, AKA Donlad Westlake.

Well, guess what arrived in the mail yesterday?

Yep, it was my long awaited copy of Butcher’s Moon, the last Parker book Westlake wrote before he took a 23-year rest from the character.

Butcher’s Moon, written in 1974, has been out of print for a quite a while and the only copies of the book I have been able to find have been very expensive second hand ones.

So, you can imagine how happy I was when University of Chicago Press, which has been gradually re-leasing all the Parker books, announced Butcher’s Moon would be available. If you’re interested, you can buy it here.

I’ve read reviews that have described Butcher’s Moon as the best Parker book Westlake ever wrote. It takes Parker back to the familiar territory of his earlier books The Hunter and The Outfit, hot on the trail of money owed him by the mob.

A failed heist sends Parker to an amusement park where he stashed $73,000 during a previous caper (depicted in the novel Slayground), several years earlier.

Parker enlists the help of his only friend, another thief called Grofield.… Read more

Parker and the art of hard-boiled crime writing

December 31 2010 marks the second anniversary of the death at age 75 of one of the masters of hard-boiled crime writing, Donald Westlake.

I’ve found myself thinking a lot about Westlake lately and his best known creation, the professional criminal Parker.

Westlake was a prolific writer. While he specialised in crime fiction, he also did science fiction, erotic stories and westerns under a myriad of pseudonyms of which Richard Stark, the name he used for the Parker books, remains the best known. He also worked on a number of screenplays, including the adaption of Jim Thompson’s The Grifters.

Sixteen Parker novels appeared between 1962 and 1974. For reasons I’m not clear about, Westlake took a rest from the character until 1997, then wrote another eight Parker books.

Several of the books were filmed, the best known of which is Point Blank starring Lee Marvin (later remade as Payback with Mel Gibson as the lead, but the less said about it the better).

I recently discovered via The Violent World of Parker website, The Outfit, an excellent 1973 adaption of Westlake’s novel of the same name, is finally getting an outing on DVD. (The details are here).

Robert Duvall does the honours as Parker or Macklin, as the central character in the film is called, alongside Joe Don Baker, Robert Ryan and the siren of seventies American B-movies, Karen Black.… Read more