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. When they find the money is gone, they assume it’s fallen into the clutches of the mafia. Little do the two men know, but they’ve just walked into the middle of a civil war between two organised crime factions intend of seizing control of illegal activities in the local town.
Sixteen Parker novels appeared between 1962 and 1974. The next Parker book didn’t appear until 1997.
In an article with the New York Times in 2001, Westlake wrote about how his alter ego, Richard Stark, just up and disappeared.
“He did a fade. Periodically, in the ensuing years, I tried to summon that persona, to write like him, to be him for just a while, but every single time I failed. What appeared on the paper was stiff, full of lumps, a poor imitation, a pastiche. Though successful, though well liked and well paid, Richard Stark had simply downed tools. For, I thought, ever.”
Interestingly, I found out from The Violent World of Parker that Brian Garfield, the writer of the seminal seventies vigilante/revenge flick Death Wish wrote a screenplay for Butcher’s Moon, which he intended to be a vehicle for Charles Bronson. No copies of it are known to exist.
Happy for you – enjoy!
PS I think you’ll look even sexier with reading glasses.