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Lemons Never Lie (Alan Grofield #4)

3.88  ·  Rating Details  ·  892 Ratings  ·  75 Reviews
When he's not pulling heists with his friend Parker, Alan Grofield runs a small theatre in Indiana. But putting on shows costs money and jobs have been thin, which is why Grofield agrees to listen to Andrew Myers' plan to knock over a brewery. Unfortunately, Myer's plan is insane - so Grofield walks out on him. And you don't walk out on Myers...
Mass Market Paperback, Hard Case Crime #22, 221 pages
Published July 4th 2006 by Hard Crime Case (first published 1971)
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Best Hardboiled PI & Noir
149th out of 522 books — 625 voters
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Odd Titles
86th out of 206 books — 166 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,379)
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Feb 23, 2014 Mara rated it liked it
Shelves: 2014-reads, hardcase
We open to stage actor and sometimes bank robber, Grofield, performing his ritual nickel sacrifice upon his arrival in Las Vegas. When the game plan meeting turns out to be some sort of amateur hour pitch featuring glossy photos and poor planning, Grofield bows out. And, well, if that was the end of that, then this would be a very short story.

I picked this one up hoping for a little Richard Stark sustenance while waiting for my next Parker novel to arrive. And, while Grofield and Parker are pur
Feb 08, 2014 Tfitoby rated it liked it
Shelves: black-as-night
An interesting little book, Richard Stark writing something other than Parker novels, this is the fourth in a series of adventures featuring occasional Parker sidekick Grofield. It's quite similar to the Parker novels only Grofield isn't such a son of a bitch. Heist goes wrong, double crosser must be punished, Grofield wants revenge. Happily there's more to this than just the heist or just the double cross or just the revenge, the adventure is staggered, each stage featuring it's own fascinating ...more
Dan Schwent
Theatre owner and part-time hood Alan Grofield goes to Las Vegas for job. Once he figures out the guy running things is crazy and the job is a long shot at best, he backs out, along with another crook, Dan Leach. Only Myer, the guy running things, is crazy. He ambushes Grofield and Leach, then makes off with Leach's winnings from the casino. From there, Grofield goes back home and Leach goes after Myer. When Leach turns up at Grofield's theatre with multiple knife wounds, things get messy...

Oct 25, 2015 Josh rated it really liked it
This is the fourth novel to feature thief Alan Grofield in his own series (he makes a couple of appearances in Starks' more well known Parker books) and the first Richard Stark novel to be published by Hardcase Crime.

For a relatively short novel Stark packed a lot of punch into this one. The story evolves from a failed attempt to lure Grofield into a shady snatch and grab planned by inexperienced and unprofessional crooks. Little did Grofield know that his very public stance by walking out on t
This was fun, but I kept looking around for Parker. I like Grofield & he makes a great main character. He's actually a lot more interesting & likeable than Parker. The story was otherwise a lot like one of the Parker novels, a bit bloodier than some.
David Monroe
Donald Westlake writing as Richard Stark. This is the fourth and, in my opinion, the best of the Alan Grofield series. Grofield is a gentleman thief who sometimes helped out in Westlake's other hard-boiled series, Parker. It's 1970 and Alan Grofield has married and semi-retired to central Indiana, where he bought a 19th century farmhouse and barn. He and his wife use the barn to stage community theatre productions. At the beginning of Spring season, he finds himself strapped for cash, so he flie ...more
Sam Reaves
Jul 01, 2015 Sam Reaves rated it liked it
Richard Stark was Mr. Hyde to Donald Westlake's Dr. Jekyll; when Westlake was in one of those moods he would sit down and pound out one of these dark, amoral tales of criminals and their professional crises and put the Stark name on it. This one is about a small-time actor and theatrical producer who supports his thespian habit by pulling off heists. Along with an old friend, he gets recruited for a job in Vegas masterminded by an obvious nut case; he and the friend walk out and then get jumped ...more
May 31, 2009 Tosh rated it really liked it
Richard Stark rules, even though he is really Donald Westlake. Heist novel gone right, but the heist in the novel goes wrong with an psycho-idiot doing the worst things. On a work trip right now and it is just an excellent read in a hotel in Brooklyn.

But like the other novels he wrote under the name Stark, it is almost effortless writing. But alas I suspect there is a generation of writers studying this work, because I think here one finds a clue what makes things click and the sound of pages be
Donald Westlake writing as Richard Stark delivered another beaut of a heist novel. This one has several plot permutations that are featured as mini set-pieces that all come together towards the end. A lot of win, lose, win, lose, win, lose tension as a pacing driver and that made this a fun read.
Oct 07, 2011 David rated it really liked it
Shelves: noirboiled
The best Grofield novel earns its status as the best Grofield novel by being the Grofield novel that is most like a Parker novel: The Sour Grofield Score with minimal opportunities for Actor Alan to play the wiseass.

First reading: circa 2007
Second reading: 2 October 2011
Feb 20, 2011 Eric_W rated it liked it
Things get off to a bad start. Through force of habit, whenever in Las Vegas, Grofield, summer stock theater owner and actor (live theater thank you, film acting is for mannequins--“an actor who stepped before a camera was in the process of rotting his own talent,”) and professional thief, drops a nickel in a slot machine when arriving and departing from the airport. This time he won fourteen nickels, hitting three lemons. Not a good sign. And the job this character Myers had designed was a “doo ...more
Jun 15, 2010 David rated it liked it
Shelves: completed
Nobody writes a good caper tale better than Donald Westlake. This one was a quality page turner with interesting characters and several clever capers along the way. I enjoy the Dortmunder novels more than I did this one, but this was solid pulpy crime fiction.

The clever title references the hero's luck in Las Vegas, where he hits a three lemon jackpot that nets him about a buck seventy-five. He figures that's how his luck is going to go and indeed-- things go sour pretty quickly.

He mets with a b
Jul 01, 2010 Johnny rated it liked it
Shelves: thriller
Some mystery authors write police procedurals. Most of Donald Westlake’s books seem like criminal procedurals. In the course of reading a Westlake novel (or in this case, one of his Richard Stark novels), I’ve discovered so many variables that I never considered about pulling a criminal caper. Of course, in the Dortmunder novels, there is usually a comic twist on all of the planning and preparation. Those are black comedies in the classic sense. Lemons Never Lie also has some twists, but they ar ...more
Jan 05, 2009 F.R. rated it liked it
This is the first Stark novel I've read that doesn't include Parker, and I have to admit that I missed the old bastard. His sometime cohort Alan Grofield leads the action in this, and whereas the idea of a theatre manager by day and armed robber by night does have its amusing possibilities, I prefer the no-fuss professionalism that Parker brings. (Of course the idea of the book would never have worked with Parker, as Parker would have just killed the antagonist the first chance he had and moving ...more
Sep 20, 2014 Jim rated it it was amazing
This book gave me so much pleasure. As a long-time fan of Richard Stark's Parker novels, I remember Alan Grofield as one of the thieves that Parker would call upon for a job. Grofield was my favorite of the bunch (still remember the scene where he'd hum his own theme music while doing a caper), and he must have been one of Stark/Westlake's too. Lemons Never Lie starts slow but is a masterfully understated crime novel. It's got the caper gone wrong, a psycho killer, and an ordinary man (sort of) ...more
Jun 26, 2011 Mark rated it really liked it
The final installment of the 4-book Parker side-project, featuring Grofield, Parker's sidekick who only steals to finance his acting career. Of the four, LEMONS will appeal most to Parker fans, as it's the most like a Parker book: the humor and oddness of the earlier stories (which I liked) are replaced here by a fairly relentless and brutal tale of violence and revenge. Let's hope Grofield got to retire and run his theatre in peace.
Liked this book best of the four books in Stark's Grofield series. This more Parker-esque Grofield book might have been a better first book in the series. It sets the stage by providing the reader with a look at Grofield's nefarious career, his acting career, and his personal life with his wife Mary. Grofield is also less unidimensional than in the first three books and the plot is certainly more believable.
Oct 22, 2011 Ken rated it liked it
An Alan Grofield novel. Grofield is a professional robber who runs a small theater in rural Indiana. Called to Vegas by Andrew Myer for a robbery of a brewery in upstate New York, however it's not to Alan's liking, and he and a fellow robber, Dan Leach, pass on the deal, and make a sizable stake in the casino before they leave in the morning. Andrews and one of the other thugs robs them. Leach and Alan track them down, recover the cash, and Grofield splits back to the theater. Days later, Leach ...more
Sep 02, 2012 Jim rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Hard-boiled Mystery Readers
I've been reading a lot of current or old mystery/crime writer's. I often prefer some of the older dated material to the current crime and mystery reads. I finally dusted off this book that i bought several years ago from the "last chance" bin of B&N. I had always wanted to read Richard Stark aka Donald Westlake aka Samuel Holt. As if 6 pages of of Praise from people like Stephen King or Quentin Tarantino was not enough to make me want to make this random purchase of #4 of a Series; I also w ...more
Benjamin Thomas
Richard Stark, aka Donald E. Westlake, is well known for several major characters, most especially Parker. Alan Grofield is an associate of Parker and also got to be the main protagonist of four Stark novels. This is the 4th and final one.

This particular novel is a fairly straight-forward caper story, (actually involving several capers) and I really enjoyed the character of Grofield. He is a thief but he thinks of that occupation merely as a way to gain working capital so that he can pursue his
Jason Seaver
Jun 02, 2010 Jason Seaver rated it really liked it
My only previous encounters with Don Westlake's Richard Stark persona have come from the various adaptations of "The Hunter", but I've been looking at that as meaning I've got good things ahead of me. This book isn't a Parker story, though; instead, it follows an occasional confederate as he tries to steal enough to keep his small-town theater afloat and stay a step ahead of the unstable character whose job he turned down.

It's a nifty crime story at times, with a keen caper in the center. It's a
Panu Mäkinen
Jun 16, 2015 Panu Mäkinen rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime
Donald E. Westlake on tunnettu hauskoista kirjoistaan. Tämä ei ole sellainen, vaikka takakansi moista lupaa. Myöskään loppuratkaisu ei saa kokeneimpaakaan lukijaa haukkomaan henkeään. Donald E. Westlake on kirjoittanut huonoimman kirjansa.

Alan Grofield on ryöstöihin erikoistunut näyttelijä, joka saapuu Las Vegasiin keskustellakseen ryöstösuunnitelmasta. Hän kuitenkin päättää vetäytyä hankkeesta, mutta yllättävien tapahtumien myötä ei pääsekään siitä niin helposti eroon. Kirja käsittelee rikollis
Apr 21, 2012 Corey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
O sleek little fast-paced caper noir, how I love you.
Jun 07, 2014 Jure rated it liked it
Not good, not bad. Something you take on a plane and forget about when you arrive to your destination and pick up the next book.

More here (review includes spoilers!):
Carol Jean
Apr 02, 2015 Carol Jean rated it it was amazing
In general, more to my taste than the Parker books. Grofield never shuts up, whereas Parker seldom speaks. Very clever and a lot of fun. And you can FEEL the Dortmunder series running as a steady undercurrent through both sets of novels.
Oct 27, 2012 Hans rated it it was amazing
Alan Grofield is forced into the acting challenge of his life: the role of a deadly-edged, revenge-driven thief. Grofield must step into Parker's shoes to pull things off.

The book is notable for giving us a glimpse at Grofield's straight life, at home with Mary prepping to open the summer stock theater, as well as, several ventures into his other life--the life that pays the bills.

Though Grofield is forced into action, the book still leaves room for Grofield's lighter side including (view spoile
Jun 12, 2012 Chris rated it it was amazing
Just the right mix of interesting protagonist, intricate crimes, and revenge make this one of the better crime novels I've read in a little while. The main character surprises you a little by being such a nice, human character, who just happens to be a criminal to pay the bills but is not particularly hardened to the life. Many of the career criminals we see as characters here have families and real lives, completely unlike many of the characters in more traditional crime stories.
The weaving tog
Oct 25, 2012 Ed rated it really liked it
Shelves: crime
#4 in the Alan Grofield series. The final entry in thhis series from Richard Stark, the hard-boiled persona of the late mystery master Donald Westlake.

Alan Grofield series - When he’s not carrying out heists with his friend Parker, Alan Grofield runs a small theater in Indiana. But putting on shows costs money and jobs have been thin lately – which is why Grofield agreed to fly to Las Vegas to hear Andrew Myers’ plan to knock over a brewery in upstate New York. Unfortunately, Myers’ plan is insa
Daria Dykes
Apr 08, 2015 Daria Dykes rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
This was a very nice little crime novel. Richard Stark is a reliable go-to for undemanding-yet-not-insulting entertainment. Pretty violent though, so not for the squeamish.
Nov 27, 2015 Erik rated it it was amazing
Shelves: noir, crime-fiction
"Grofield put a nickel in the slot machine, pulled the lever, and watched a lemon, a lemon and a lemon come up."
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