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The Jugger (Parker #6)

really liked it 4.00  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,270 Ratings  ·  113 Reviews
You probably haven’t ever noticed them. But they’ve noticed you. They notice everything. That’s their job. Sitting quietly in a nondescript car outside a bank making note of the tellers’ work habits, the positions of the security guards. Lagging a few car lengths behind the Brinks truck on its daily rounds. Surreptitiously jiggling the handle of an unmarked service door at ...more
Paperback, 211 pages
Published April 15th 2009 by University Of Chicago Press (first published 1965)
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Feb 12, 2011 Greg rated it liked it
Richard Stark doesn't give much a description of what Parker looks like. He's a big guy with gnarled tree trunks for hands. This description is given in just about all of the early novels.

It's probably safe to think of Parker as looking sort of like a Lee Marvin type, and since he has probably most famously portrayed Parker, maybe this is what some readers use as their mental image:

Some people might like to think of him as a raving wife-beating anti-semite:

Parker has also been portrayed as an A
Feb 01, 2011 David rated it liked it
In Richard Stark's The Jugger, everybody's favorite sociopath Parker (AKA Charles Willis) has to beat cheeks to Green Acres when his osteoporotic middle man Joe Sheer sends out a distress signals, and Parker, looking out for Numero Uno, is worried that Sheer's goose is cooked and that there might be a lot of bread crumbs lying around the joint leading straight back to him. And—as we all know—Parker doesn't do criminal celebrity. This leads to successive run-ins: first with a shady crook from Par ...more
Dan Schwent
Parker heads to Nebraska to help out a friend in trouble, Joe Sheer, a retired safecracker (or jugger). Only when he gets to town, Sheer is dead and a crooked cop and a crook both think Parker knows where to find Joe's stash of stolen money. But does the money even exist?

The Jugger is a break from the usual Parker formula. Instead of planning a job, Parker has to get a crooked sheriff off his back and convince the interested parties that Sheer didn't have any money. Of course, Parker does it in
Aug 11, 2014 Mark rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: fans of crime noir
Recommended to Mark by: ed Lynskey
The sixth Parker novel is somewhat of an oddity, there is no heist involved at all. Parkers' general job as organizer and enforcer does not come into play this time.
Parker gets a letter from one of his previous work-partners, a safe cracker aka a jugger, who due to his retirement became a go-between for Parker and something that resembles a acquaintance in Parker his world. This letter makes Parker seek out his previous co-worker and if necessary take action. Parker finds the man deceased and a
Sep 21, 2010 Kemper rated it really liked it
When Parker gets a couple of letters from retired safe cracker Joe Sheer saying that he’s having problems, he’s worried that the old man is getting pressured into revealing secrets. Since some of those secrets would be about him, Parker packs a bag and is off to Nebraska thinking that he may have to permanently shut Joe up.

After he arrives in the small town that Joe had settled in, Parker learns that Joe is already dead, supposedly from a heart attack. But the police chief is instantly on Parke
May 31, 2016 F.R. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
‘The Jugger’ is an atypical Parker novel.

There are others, true, which don’t focus on a robbery, but instead deal with the aftermath. But in ‘The Jugger’, there’s no robbery in the background, it’s all aftermath. Yet even though this is quieter and more restrained than other Parker novels, that doesn’t mean the stakes aren’t high, as what ends up being threatened here is one of the most fundamental things of all – Parker’s secret identity.

We’ve already in these books seen Parker come back from
Jane Stewart
Apr 19, 2013 Jane Stewart rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An average story most of the way, but I liked the twists and turns at the end.

Parker comes to town after receiving a strange letter from one of his guys. The guy died after sending the letter. Strange things are happening. A bad cop is involved. Parker is trying to figure it out. Then Parker kills someone which shocked me. I shouldn’t like this because he killed a kind-of-good person. But the “shock” was what I liked. And the ending I liked. It seemed Parker had everything all nice and neat and
May 09, 2013 Krycek rated it really liked it
I guess a "jugger" is a guy that breaks into safes, and Joe Sheer was one of the best, was being the operative word. Now he's come down with a bad case of dead and Parker's concerned, not because Sheer was his golf buddy or anything, but he was one of the few people with a direct connection to Parker and Parker's got a sweet little cover identity set up. He doesn't want anyone nosing around Sheer's death to blow it. Throw in an aging crook who looks like he failed an audition for The Monkees and ...more
Apr 28, 2009 Alex rated it it was amazing
This is the original hard boiled tough guy. Stark (Westlake writing as Stark) boils the essence of a smart no-nonsense tough guy down from the work of the greats that wrote detective and crime fiction before him, and created Parker. Forget the movies you may have seen - be they timeless classics or modern dreck - and do yourself a favor and read these. If you like crime fiction you have to check these books out. The Chicago Press has re-released them in sharp stylish new paperbacks that are inex ...more
Mar 26, 2016 Lynn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Parker surprised me in this book. In previous stories I'd come to think his thieves' code made him moral. His behavior isn't out of character here, but I mistakenly started thinking he was basically a good guy.....not really. He can still shock me with swift brutality. Great book.
Aug 12, 2009 Ed rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Somewhat of a depature from Parker's usual storyline, we find our favorite thief returning to a small town in Nebraska. He ties up a few loose ends at the death of his former partner, a safecracker ("jugger"). This is one of my favorite Parker books, to date. Lots of close shaves, greed, and desperados. Westlake's hardboiled writing is sharp. Not much humor or wisecracks distracts the reader.
I really liked this one. Stark was getting too formulaic & this one broke out of that mold in a great way. Parker is still himself, but the circumstances were not what he's used to. As usual, Steven R. Thorn did a good job of reading. Very well done!
Benoit Lelievre
Not bad, but kind of a clusterfuck. The premise is very seducing, Parker's trusted man Joe Scheer has recently passed away and left an intangible treasure and a bunch of greedy rats in his wake. The idea was great, but the execution left to be desired. The characters keep shuffling and bumping into each other to try and get to Joe's money and miserably fail while Parker has to keep up appearanced at all times because someone always finds a compromising piece of information on him. There's a sati ...more
Feb 15, 2016 Andre rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Jugger is the 6th novel in the Parker series. “Where’s the money?” Everyone is looking for Joe’s elusive stash, but does it even actually exist? Parker lands in the middle of it all and tries to sort out who is who, who knows what and who has blood on their hands. The local police captain Younger soon becomes the ball on Parker’s proverbial chain. Together they rush headlong to the inevitable conclusion.

For someone who churned out two or three Parker novels a year during the time this little
Nov 26, 2010 David rated it really liked it
Shelves: noirboiled
Parker is a problem-solver, and usually these problems arise in the course of planning and committing robberies. In The Jugger, however, Parker's problems are the residual result of a life of crime. Sometimes, Parker must solve problems not to earn money but just to stay out of jail. The staying-out-of-jail Parker is less interesting than the earning-money Parker, but Parker is always Parker, which is to say that The Jugger is a good read.
Jan 10, 2012 V. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This starts out like a mystery. You have no idea what's going on or why Parker is out in the middle of nowhere. It's a clever change of pace to keep things fresh in a series that often plays on the character's singl-mindedness and reliance on routine.

The slow unwinding of what is essentially a non-plot (the macguffin is that there isn't one) is well handled, and Parker's actions in attempting to keep his Charles Willis cover intact is typically brutal.

The narrative structure uses a lot of fals
Feb 19, 2013 Joseph rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I was tempted to go 5 stars on this, as it's just a fantastic tight little tale. But I suppose it doesn't fit the description of "amazing".
Throughout this story, like most Parker stories, you find yourself constantly thinking, "Oh man, Parker's gonna kill this guy." Or, "OK, Parker's gonna kick this guy's ass now."
But then he never does, when you think he will.
He's so ruthless as a character (meaning that Westlake is brilliant as the writer) that not only does he catch his victims off-
Feb 03, 2015 Kenneth rated it it was amazing
Though critics and Donald Westlake himself consider The Jugger a failure, it is actually my favorite of the Parker series so far. It's a novel about the inescapable past, and the stakes for Parker are much more than the outcome of the caper at the heart of the story. A former associate of Parker - a safecracker, or a jugger in the parlance of the biz - asks for help but by the time Parker arrives in town, the jugger is already dead. A shady local cop soon ropes Parker into his search for the jug ...more
Steve Isaak
Jul 07, 2014 Steve Isaak rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A few months after the events of The Score , Parker finds himself in Sagamore, Nebraska, delving into the real reason for his friend's death. The local newspaper says a heart attack killed Joe Shardin (a.k.a. Joe Sheer), but Parker knows better. A host of shady characters - including Abner Younger, a local corrupt police captain - are hiding something from him, as well as dropping fresh bodies, and it's up to Parker to not only find out who's crossing who (in various ways), but how to protect h ...more
Jun 30, 2015 David rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am reading this series in order, and I would have to rank this one as the best so far, with the possible exception of "The Hunter". Once again, Donald Westlake delivers a taut, tightly constructed tale, all that takes place in a small town. Like a good one act play,there are only a few characters, and at every turn, it is difficult to guess who is going to do what next.

The town is Sagamore, Nebraska, where Parker finds himself. The plot begins in the middle, with Parker, master thief, concerne
Aaron Martz
The weakest of the Parker novels, this one has an unusual structure from first page to last, which makes it interesting despite its failures. It starts in the middle of events and works its way back to the beginning, then it changes perspectives to tell the bad guy's story, then there is the usual double cross and violent ending. The plot concerns Parker arriving in a small hick town to see what happened to Joe Sheer, an old man who used to contact people for him. There isn't a lot of action thi ...more
Dec 21, 2015 Tyler rated it it was ok
I didn't like this one. It never really held my interest. Parker's motivation makes sense to me but it's such pragmatic story that's it not interesting. He may as well be getting groceries. He needs a worthy Sherlock to battle, Reegan was alright but you never feel there is any danger of being caught despite two conversations. Backstory in these books is so boring, I don't care. The women characters in these stories are all the same which gets a bit old. The Tiftus character was just there so Pa ...more
Apr 08, 2015 Piker7977 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime-mystery
The Jugger had a different feel compared with the previous Parker novels which isn't a bad thing. Parker finds himself in a gumshoe role rather than an arch-criminal mastermind. Investigating a mystery fits Parker surprisingly well but not quite as good as being a heist-man. Parker 's opposition is a hick cop from Smalltown Nebraska reminiscent of the sheriff from the Roger Moore Bond films. This bumbling oaf ultimately proves to be an interesting obstacle for Parker as he looks into the circums ...more
Mike (the Paladin)
Feb 16, 2016 Mike (the Paladin) rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: action, thriller
So...a Jugger. We today would probably call him/her (him in this case) a "handler". He's the guy who puts jobs together. You need a safe man, a lock man, an all round thief, a hitter...the Jugger can put you in touch with a "trustworthy" (well relatively) person. This is the Jugger who Parker has worked with a long time. He knows all about Parker and now that he's acting in a totally un-jugger way this knowledge is not a good thing. Looks like Parker may need to take a hand you know, help the gu ...more
In 'The Getaway Car, a Donald Westlake Nonficton Miscellany', Westlake says of this story: '...the worst book I ever wrote under any name.' That leads me to envision a long honeymoon with his writing, as I did not find this first read of his work overly awful at all.
Indeed, the protagonist Parker (who has been described as sociopathic, sad for me as I see him as relate-able) has a singular voice deeper in its unsaid motives than the shallow Jack Reacher, say, and on a par with the consistent mot
Feb 24, 2014 zackxdig rated it it was amazing
He burnt his alias, Charles Willis, but he made it out of the town. This story ready more detective than heist. Which I'm am totally cool with. Parker shows up to find out that his connection for people to get ahold of him through his alias is dead. So he has to deal with the good ol' boy hick cop, the nosy watcher neighbor and another acquaintance. Who are all looking for the dead guys million dollars that he had from all if his robberies. But of course does it spiral out of control with other ...more
Joe Santoro
Apr 29, 2016 Joe Santoro rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: thriller-caper
Parker really dialed up the old Curmudgeon factor to 11 on this one. After being almost nice in the previous book (The Score), and trying to keep the body count to a minimum, here we get several deaths, one of which seemed almost for fun, all in the name of preserving his cover id (which is destroyed at the end of the book anyway).

It was interesting to see Parker operate 'on the fly' instead of with a planned operation.. perhaps that why there was extra violence, since he couldn't be sure of thi
Jack Rochester
I've only read one other Parker novel, "The Man with the Getaway Face," which was a good read. However, "The Jugger" did not match expectations. In fact, it honestly put me to sleep every time I picked it up. I kept thinking about Lee Child's "One Shot" and what a memorable read that was. Perhaps it's because Parker is from the 1960s and, as a reader, there has been so much written that is more brutal and cynical and hard-noir - and better - in this genre. I'll try another Parker because Stark/W ...more
Jul 21, 2014 Yves rated it really liked it
Shelves: thriller
Parker is the main character making simple decisions his world. We all live in an environment of choices, but Westlake's character has a very black-and-white view of the world, made monochromatic by the code of being outside of the law.

I was properly shocked by the callous disregard for life Parker displays to protect his identity. Greed blinds one character, duty another, and inexperience proves to be the biggest liability in this Richard Stark novel. I really liked this one.

On to the next one!
Mar 31, 2010 Randy rated it it was amazing
Parker has a problem. He got a letter from Joe Sheer, a retired safecracker he'd worked jobs with in the past and who now served as his jugger, go-between, for others in their profession. In the letter, Joe asks for help with a problem.

Parker wasn't worried about helping him as much as protecting himself. When he arrives in town, Joe is dead, about to be buried, and too many people are nosing around in the man's business. Parker had already given his "civilian" name before he learns all this, th
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Other Books in the Series

Parker (1 - 10 of 24 books)
  • The Hunter (Parker, #1)
  • The Man With The Getaway Face (Parker, #2)
  • The Outfit (Parker, #3)
  • The Mourner (Parker, #4)
  • The Score (Parker, #5)
  • The Seventh (Parker, #7)
  • The Handle (Parker, #8)
  • The Rare Coin Score (Parker, #9)
  • The Green Eagle Score (Parker, #10)
  • The Black Ice Score (Parker, #11)

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“Already today I hit you twice. Once I knocked the wind out of you, once I knocked the consciousness out of you. Here you are back the third time. You call that smart?” 6 likes
“Well, it just figures," Younger told him, like a man explaining his religion.” 1 likes
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