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The Hunter (Parker #1)

4.07  ·  Rating Details  ·  5,897 Ratings  ·  532 Reviews
Double-crossed, shot, and left for dead — by his wife. The thriller that introduces Parker. “A brilliant invention”. Played by Lee Marvin in the John Boorman movie. “The funnies call it the syndicate. The goons and hustlers call it the Outfit. You call it the Organization. But I don’t care if you call yourselves the Red Cross, you owe me forty-five thousand dollars and you ...more
Mass Market Paperback, 199 pages
Published 1962 by Pocket Books
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The Big Sleep by Raymond ChandlerThe Maltese Falcon by Dashiell HammettThe Long Goodbye by Raymond ChandlerFarewell, My Lovely by Raymond ChandlerThe Postman Always Rings Twice by James M. Cain
Best Hardboiled PI & Noir
26th out of 522 books — 633 voters
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg LarssonAnd Then There Were None by Agatha ChristieAngels & Demons by Dan BrownRebecca by Daphne du MaurierIn Cold Blood by Truman Capote
Best Crime & Mystery Books
398th out of 5,310 books — 11,889 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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When PARKER is after you...IT’S PRETTY MUCH Photobucket

4.5 to 5.0 stars. I haven't read oodles of crime fiction but this is certainly one of the best I have read so far. Parker is a pinnacle of the noirish, badass main character. He's simply superb. In this first installment, Parker returns to New York to “even up the score” with some former crew-mates who double-crossed him and left him for dead. Uh…BIG MISTAKE (for them). Now Parker is out for payback and it's pretty much lights out for his former assoc
James Thane
This is a classic hard-boiled novel, the first book in a series that would ultimately run to twenty-four books published between 1962 and 2008. The series featured a brutal, smart, amoral professional criminal known only as Parker who worked with crews of other professional criminals and usually focused on robbing banks, armored cars or other such targets. Parker was not a professional killer, although he never balked at killing anyone who got in the way of the job at hand.

He also never hesitate
When we meet Parker, we don’t know much about him. He’s just a guy with shabby clothes and a bad attitude walking across the George Washington Bridge into New York without a dime to his name. Within hours of arriving in Manhattan, Parker has used an early ’60s form of identity theft to fill his wallet and set himself up quite nicely. Clearly, this is a resourceful guy. As we quickly learn in The Hunter, he’s also a guy that you do not want to double-cross.

A professional thief, Parker was betray
Mar 16, 2012 Lawyer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of hard-boiled crime and noir
Recommended to Lawyer by: Goodreads group Pulp Fiction Member
The Hunter, Donald Westlake aka Richard Stark writes the first Parker Novel

I wrote an absolutely brilliant review of The Hunter: A Parker Novel last night. Trust me, it really was. Then it simply vanished. The laptop hiccuped and all those wonderful words went off to where good words go to die.

Richard Stark was a guy I had never heard of until I joined goodreads group Pulp Fiction. Donald E Westlake, I had heard of. I was in Junior High School when I read Fugitive Pigeon. It was a stitch, althou
Dan Schwent
Four men collaborate on a heist and everything goes well until one man decides he can't share and tries to off the others. But Parker doesn't die and comes looking for revenge! But will revenge be enough for Parker ...?

Wow. I'd been looking forward to reading Richard Stark's Parker books for quite some time and I'd say I'm hooked with the first one. Parker's a relentless force of nature with few redeeming qualities. The writing shows just how versatile a writer Donald Westlake was, powerful yet
Bill  Kerwin
Mar 25, 2016 Bill Kerwin rated it really liked it

A very cold book about a very hard man. Master thief Parker has been left for dead, betrayed by his partner and his wife, and now he's out for revenge. If you like sociopath heroes, this is the noir for you, particularly if you also appreciate a spare, efficient prose style.

"The Hunter" has been filmed twice: 1) the stylish, nihilistic cult-classic Point Blank with Lee Marvin, and 2)the vicious, misanthropic Payback with Mel Gibson. Both are worth watching.
Jan 14, 2014 Algernon rated it really liked it
Recommended to Algernon by: bookclub choice
Shelves: 2014
The first book in the Parker series is a clear illustration for me of the need for half-stars here on Goodreads. I know three stars means a positive reaction, but often people interpret it as a mediocre book, and The Hunter may be flawed as far as I'm concerned, but it is definitely not mediocre. It has in fact most of the elements to make it a classic in its genre: a powerful lead, a heist gone bad, betrayal among crooks, women trouble, surprising twists towards the end.

Parker is a prof
Jan2014: Group read & I get the different versions mixed up, so I'm relistening to this. It's short & still great.

Feb2013: An excellent first book of a very good series by Donald E. Westlake writing as Richard Stark. Parker is a great character. He's almost robotic in his cold logic & self-centeredness. He wants what he wants & allows very few emotions to get in his way. Others fidget while they wait, but Parker never does. He's big, strong & obviously has some training in fi
Nov 10, 2012 Melki rated it really liked it
During my formative teen years, my dad practically force-fed me a diet of Ed McBain, Joseph Wambaugh, and Donald E Westlake, and for that, I will be eternally grateful. I will always have to wonder if he just didn't know about Westlake's evil twin, Richard Stark, or if perhaps he wanted to protect his shy, virginal daughter from the likes of a man like Parker.

He knew he was hard, he knew that he worried less about emotion than other people.

Calling Parker hard is something of an understatement. H
i liked the movie better. and that's really not supposed to happen unless you're talking about the godfather. yeah, point blank is a surreal jagged & fucked-up masterpiece and lee marvin is cooler than god, but it ain't just the merits of the film, it's the deficiencies of the novel. i think the problem with the hunter lies in that, this being the first of the series, stark felt he had to create a firm foundation, establish character, theme, tone, and all the other literary junk that doesn't ...more
Jan 14, 2011 Greg rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime-fiction
"He stopped looking mean and he stopped looking mad. He kept working at it, and when he was sure he looked worried he went on into the bank."

The first half of The Hunter is near perfect. Parker hits New York City, entering the town with a rumbled ill-fitting suit and a very pissed off look on his face huffing it over the George Washington Bridge. The image of him stomping in to the city with just the thought of killing his ex-wife and Mal, the couple who shot and stole forty something thousand d
Dec 18, 2015 F.R. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Imagine you’re Donald Westlake in 1961/1962. You’re a struggling writer, churning our four or five novels a year under a variety of names and across a number of genres. Then one day you finish a book named ‘The Hunter’ under the pseudonym Richard Stark. A book about a ruthless, super thief named Parker who finds himself up against a criminal outfit known as The Outfit. Do you instantly know that this is the one? That this is the character, and this is the book even, that would give you a lasting ...more
Feb 22, 2013 Tfitoby rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: black-as-night
“I'm going to drink his blood, I'm going to chew up his heart and spit it into the gutter for the dogs to raise a leg at. I'm going to peel the skin off him and rip out his veins and hang him with them.”

Parker is one angry man, he's been crossed, left for dead, thrown in jail for vagrancy, had to cross an entire continent and now he's a hunter who wants payback at point blank range.

Knowing a little about this series of books and how highly fellow pulp fans rate the first book, published in 1962
Richard Vialet
This is what hard-boiled crime fiction is all about. A mean, thrilling, fast-moving story with little-to-no frills, and lots of badassery. And Parker might just be the biggest badass in the literary crime world. In this loose cannon of a novel, the first one in a long-running, popular series, Parker, a professional heistman, literally walks across the George Washington bridge into New York City with nothing but the clothes on his back and revenge on his mind against his backstabbing weakling of ...more
Jul 23, 2014 Brandon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, fiction, noir, 2014
Career criminal Parker is double crossed and left for dead but they didn’t confirm the kill. After surviving an attempt on his life, Parker’s search for the scumbag responsible has led him to New York City. While finding the man may prove difficult for Parker, one thing is for sure, he’ll get his revenge or die trying.

While I’ve read all of Darwyn Cooke’s tremendous graphic novel adaptations as well as watched the late 90s movie “Payback”, I’ve yet to check out the original source material - Sta
Jan 31, 2014 Mara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Looking for a gangster with a heart of gold or maybe a heister living by some thieves' code of honor? In that case, you probably won't dig Parker. He's a simple man really, not one for small talk or emotions. He's just 100% bad ass and doing what he's gotta do.

By part two of this book I was experiencing what I can only describe as some sort of anticipatory excitement...not exactly blood lust, more the kind of feeling you get when you've lit a firework and are waiting for it to explode, or that
Cathy DuPont
May 31, 2013 Cathy DuPont rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The was my first Donald Westlake (pen name of Richard Stark and so many others.) I've known and heard about Westlake for the past few years since I've made a point to read some of the early creators of the mystery/thriller/P.I. genre.

Westlake passed away in 2008 at the age of 75 after writing almost 100 books.

His writing, which was spectacular in its simplicity, was so clean and clear with no 'fluff' whatsoever.

But Parker, his famous character, is not for everyone since he's is the quintessen
Feb 24, 2015 Beth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
[4.5 stars] WOW is all I can say after finishing The Hunter – especially since it’s most definitely not the type of book that I would normally read. I tend to avoid books with with adult situations and/or violence and I never really gave much thought to reading book from the “noir” genre. This must explain why it was found on top of my husband's to-read pile rather than mine. But, for real: The Hunter = WOW. I was surprised at how much I liked it — the content is obviously like nothing else I’ve ...more
Mike (the Paladin)
Oct 01, 2015 Mike (the Paladin) rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: action, thriller
You know I suspect we all have what we think of as "guilty pleasures" or possibly at least things we enjoy that we question ourselves about. One of my "guilty pleasures" is that I like a movie that I'm not really proud of liking as the protagonist has no redeeming qualities. He's the epitome of an antihero.

The movie is Pay Back with Mel Gibson as "Porter".

The thing is I didn't know the movie was based on a book (it's even the second movie based on the book. The first stared Lee Marvin it was ti
Oct 26, 2011 Michael rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: noir, crime, pulp, 1960s
One of the rare times where the movie (Payback) is better than the book. It could be that I've seen the movie first but in my opinion the movie had a darker, rarer feel to it. As many people may know the hunter (and payback) tells the story of Parker, how is seeking revenge after been betrayed, shot and left for dead by his partner and his wife. But what many people may not know, is originally this was going to be a one off book, but the authors publisher convinced him to change the ending and o ...more
"The office women looked at him and shivered. They knew he was a bastard, they knew his big hands were born to slap with, they knew his face would never break into a smile when he looked at a woman. They knew what he was, they thanked God for their husbands, and still they shivered. Because they knew how he would fall on a woman in the night. Like a tree."
Jane Stewart
Apr 12, 2013 Jane Stewart rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It was fun. It was different. It’s about a loner bad guy (totally alpha male) in the bad guy world.

At first I wasn’t sure if I would like this. Parker kills a couple innocents who happened to be in his way. But I really enjoyed the last third or so when Parker took on the mafia/syndicate. He tells them who he’s going to kill if he doesn’t get his way. And then he does it. The story is a little shorter than most novels. The author is a good storyteller. I like the way he writes.

One thing a little
Mar 18, 2013 Bill rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery-suspense
My first Parker novel!

Ever since reading The Ax by Donald Westlake, I've been interested in reading more of him, and of his alter-ego Richard Stark. Especially since learning how much of a fan Stephen King is, and how half of his alter-ego's name is in tribute to the good Donald's.

This is a very fast-paced novel, and very harsh for its time (early 60s).
Parker is a 1st degree asshole. Tough to like, yeah, but his story is irresistable.
He. Kicks. Ass.

We are first introduced to him as a lone figure
Sep 09, 2011 Kane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: writing-well
Holy crap!

If you ever thought about double crossing someone, you best make sure you know who you're dealing with. If his name starts with a "P" and ends in "arker"...don't. This was my first attempt at Westlake/Stark and what a ride! The pace is relentless and the style suits Parker himself: no extra fluff, straight to the jugular and best with a bottle of vodka. The economy in the prose is brutal and efficient. If you don't like it, screw you. Oh and I took your stuff while you were thinking ab
Jonathan Janz
May 12, 2013 Jonathan Janz rated it it was amazing
Originally published on my blog, (

You know, Donald Westlake and I have a lot in common. We both write under a pen name. Both of our novels feature moments of shocking violence. We both…write under pen names.

Okay, so maybe we aren’t so alike after all. But man, could that guy write.

I’ve been hearing about the Parker books for years (quick recap for the uninitiated—Westlake is the author’s real name, Stark is the pseudonym, Parker is the ch
May 16, 2013 Mike rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone

Once again, I go backwards into a series…

Well, not precisely, as I started reading about Parker with the second book, The Man With the Getaway Face, thinking that the first volume was made of unobtainium. But, the Inter-Library-Loan system has come through once again!

Since I did not “cheat” and read about Parker outside of the books (and others’ reviews of the books I’ve read) I was unaware of some critical “backstory”.

(view spoiler)
Oct 01, 2010 David rated it really liked it
Shelves: noirboiled
The defining moment of the first Parker novel comes in a throwaway scene: Parker, searching for a location from which to surveil his prey, forces his way into a beauty shop, knocking out its proprietress with a punch to the chin. Parker gags her and ties her wrists and ankles together, cutting the cord with pair of scissors that he finds in a desk drawer. At first, he doesn't think anything of the inhaler that he finds along with scissors, but then he notices that the woman is dead. Parker's rea ...more
May 08, 2012 Eric rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Fans of noir crime fiction
Shelves: audiobooks, crime
Parker is the definition of anti-hero. It would have been easier to root for Parker if he hadn't planned on double-crossing his double-crosser in the first place. And if he didn't treat his prostitute "friend" so brutally. And if he didn't accidentally kill an innocent person.

But through all that, I still found myself rooting for him, as it becomes clear he does have a code -- he doesn't kill cops, bodyguards, underlings or innocents that find themselves in his way (intentionally) -- and more i
Feb 11, 2011 Josh rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
I only read this because all the cool kids are doing the same. Pretty good read. Kinda mindless but that's OK because Parker's a cool character and he kills people and doesn't afraid of anything. Totally perverse entertainment but entertaining all the same. Who cares about morally and emotionally balanced characters anyway?
Jul 11, 2014 Mark rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of crime noir
Recommended to Mark by: Ed Lynskey
I recently saw Mel Gibsons' Payback and that put me in the mood for some Parker/Richard Stark reading. And as luck would have it I found the first two books of Starks' anti-hero Parker. The book and the movie differ in the aspect that you feel sympathy for Gibsons' Parker (even if the movie character is Porter) and the women in the movie got a better treatment. In Starks' 1st novel they are all "whores" and good for only thing. Mal Resnick has no reserves when it comes to using women, but that w ...more
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Goodreads Librari...: This topic has been closed to new comments. please add book cover 4 25 Apr 25, 2016 03:18AM  
Which is the best Parker novel by Richard Stark 24 244 Feb 12, 2015 06:46AM  
Pulp Fiction: January 2014 - The Hunter 38 83 Mar 09, 2014 12:31PM  
Pulp Fiction: Parker 145 164 Jul 25, 2013 06:30PM  
book/graphic novel different endings 3 15 Jul 05, 2013 06:54AM  
Pulp Fiction: New Parker Movie 17 46 Jun 05, 2013 09:18AM  
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  • The Last Good Kiss (C.W. Sughrue, #1)
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  • The First Quarry (Quarry #8)

Other Books in the Series

Parker (1 - 10 of 24 books)
  • The Man With The Getaway Face (Parker, #2)
  • The Outfit (Parker, #3)
  • The Mourner (Parker, #4)
  • The Score (Parker, #5)
  • The Jugger (Parker, #6)
  • 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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“I'm going to drink his blood, I'm going to chew up his heart and spit it into the gutter for the dogs to raise a leg at. I'm going to peel the skin off him and rip out his veins and hang him with them.” 9 likes
“The office women looked at him and shivered. They knew he was a bastard, they his big hands were born to slap with, they knew his face would never break into a smile when he looked at a woman. They knew what he was, they thanked God for their husbands, and still they shivered. Because they knew how he would fall on a woman in the night. Like a tree".” 6 likes
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