Saturday, July 05, 2008

Book: Dirty Money, by Richard Stark (2008)

There are plenty of reasons to read Richard Stark. His offhand way with description, for instance:

Oscar Sidd’s car was so anonymous you forgot it while you were looking at it. A small and unremarkable four-door sedan, it was the color of the liquid in a jar of pitted black olives; dark but weak, bruised but undramatic.

But Stark – you all must know who he really is by now, considering how often I bring him up – may have outdone himself with his latest run of books. In 2004’s Nobody Runs Forever, the thief’s thief known as Parker pulls an armored car robbery with some cronies only to be forced to leave the swag hidden in a church. The book ends with Parker scrambling up a hillside to avoid the cops. He reaches the top of the slope in Ask The Parrot (2006), only to be dragooned into another job in return for a hideout. Dirty Money finds Parker heading back to pick up the Nobody stash, making this a heist story without a heist.

That’s three books covering a stretch of, what, two weeks? Let’s see the Victorian novelists top that. Westlake himself considers these last few titles “more a triptych than a trilogy, where the side panels reflect on one story and the center panel reflects on something else.”

Whatever it is, it works like a charm. Dirty Money may be the strongest of the three, but I’m in the odd position of not recommending it outright. So many characters and incidents from the previous two books play into it that I’d read them all in sequence. You won’t regret it.

On The Web: Ready When You Are, SK

Sheer bloody genius. That’s what this commercial is.