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Comeback (Parker #17)

4.08 of 5 stars 4.08  ·  rating details  ·  770 ratings  ·  74 reviews
The frighteningly prolific mystery writer Donald E. Westlake, a.k.a. Richard Stark, ended his legendary series of books about a career criminal known only as Parker with 1974's Butcher's Moon. He cited too much competition from copycats in print, on film, and on television. Persuaded by fans and family, Westlake has resurrected Parker with a welcome burst of energy and ima ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published April 15th 2011 by University Of Chicago Press (first published 1997)
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When Richard Stark (a/k/a Donald Westlake) wrote a new Parker novel for the first time in over twenty years, he also resumed using the gimmick of starting each novel with the word ‘When’ again. So I guess I gotta follow suit in my reviews of them.

Parker doesn’t seem to have aged a bit when he hooks up with a couple of other heisters to steal the cash collected by a big time evangelist at one of his stadium appearances. Despite their inside man being shaky, the job goes off without a hitch and th
Damn, this book was good.

Finishing it, I just went and had the brilliant idea to request the first five Parker novels from library. My brilliant idea was a little flawed by finding out that they only have four of the first five (The Mourner not being in the Queens Library system) and finding out that I think I just maxed out my requests (I went a little nuts on library website Thursday night, ordering tons of, half of which seem to be on their way to me now, opps, I guess I'll have to pick up m
Dan Schwent
When George Liss told Parker and Mackey about the job, it sounded too good to be true; four hundred thousand dollars cash, in the hands of a televangelist. Things go south when their inside man spills his guts to a woman and she tells her no good brother. With another gang gunning for the money and George Liss wanting it all, can Parker get the money and get out alive?

Here we are, the first Parker book Richard Stark wrote after 25 Parker-less years. As usual, the caper was well planned. I almost
Parker is unlike anything else I've ever read

After spending a year with my eyes peeled for my first Richard Stark book, I finally stumbled across this one in a local secondhand shop. I don't think people like parting with these books, to read Parker is to love Parker it seems. It might be the seventeenth instalment in the criminal career of Parker but there was no way I was going to wait any longer for the first book to turn up.

Parker is brought in to a three man job, stealing money from a TV ev
Cathy DuPont
Parker is definitely a bad boy and so I confess, I love bad boys, at least this bad boy, Parker.

Although only my second Parker book, I just love the crook.

How can I love a crook you ask? Well, he's loyal and he hates disloyalty. He's trusting of those he trusts. He's...oh forget it, I don't know why I love him. Because he kicks ass? I know, not a good reason. Because he's got brass balls? Okay, that's not a good reason either. Because the character is so well drawn by Richard Stark AKA Donald
The University of Chicago Press has been reissuing all(?) of the Donald Westlake’s Richard Stark books. Comeback was written in 1997 and the title puns on the fact that Westlake was bringing back his anti-hero Parker. This is one of the best.

Parker teams up with Brenda and MacKey to rob the cash proceeds of Archibald’s Crusade, about half-a-million dollars. The weak link is George Liss who had brought them the inside man, Tom Carbody, a disenchanted member of the Crusade. Liss tries to kill Park
This one was a good return for Parker books and i enjoyed every page with Parker, the crooks he was working with. Maybe it lost some energy in the middle just before the last stretch but it still was a well written Richard Stark, Parker book.

Parker is as emotional cold, mean as always and that what i read these books for.
Stark was back on track with this Parker novel. As usual, a well planned, seemingly easy job goes sideways & Parker has to be tough & quick on his feet to work it out. It jumped around a bit too much at some points trying to cover all the characters & what they were doing, but when the action got hot, he stuck with Parker, thankfully.

Very well read. I spend about 1.5 hours commuting daily, 4 hours mowing weekly (just the lawn) & many other hours weeding. Absolutely mindless chore
Charles Dee Mitchell
This was my first Parker novel and I am a convert. Never a fan of police procedurals, I was seduced in the first pages by this "crime procedural."

Parker is a good criminal -- in this instance a thief. I am not sure what additional talents he may exhibit in other novels. He is not an anti-hero along the lines of Patricia Highsmith's Ripley or TV's Dexter. I did not watch Parker with the mix of disbelief, horror, and pleasure I do those other characters. Parker is simply a criminal who gets away w
Zakariah Johnson
Parker is back. Richard Stark (AKA Donald Westlake) and Parker--his most dangerous creation--are both masters of the one-inch punch, that blinding, explosive blow out of nowhere. In COMEBACK, Parker and the story are taut, tense, and coiled from start to finish. This professional stick-up artist exudes a constant air of menace, but never malice: his violence is just business and he's the best there is. Somehow though, Stark gets you to root for Parker ever as he strides through page after page h ...more
The coolest thing about Parker's comeback is its lack of fanfare--when it appeared, this was the first Parker novel in 23 years, but that fact is referenced only in the novel's title. Other than that, it's a completely ordinary Parker novel (which is to say, a very good Parker novel) that could just as easily have been published in 1967 as 1997, a few contemporary cultural references notwithstanding. Comeback drags only in its final act, as Parker novels sometimes do, when it becomes a cat-and-m ...more
Probably not one of the best Parker titles, this one concerns the heist of an evangelist's pot of money collected during a stadium show. Several gangs, including Parker's, take a shine to the stolen money and chaos ensues. This title has a claustrophobic feel to it. The same dry wit and doggedness make Parker one of my favorite hard-boiled series. I'll continue reading in the series.
Jane Stewart
3 stars. This was ok, but not as good as some of the others. A few memorable scenes.

The robbery is successful, but there is a double cross and others are trying to get the money. A fun part was when Parker was surrounded by three cops or security guards with guns (can’t remember exactly). Parker grabs a metal desk drawer. He swings it hard, hitting two of the guys, does some other things, and gets away.

The narrator Keith Szarabajka is my favorite narrator for the Parker series. He does a great
Perennial thief, Parker, returns in a heist sure to scorn the faithful and faithless alike. ‘Comeback’ sees Parker target a Christian crusade making its way across America with a half a million dollar bounty ripe for the taking. The plan resembling little more than a covert smash and grab thanks to inside help looks set to go off without a hitch. That is, until the inside guy gets cold feet and spills the beans that he’s told his girlfriend of the scheme. Naturally the smooth terrain turns to a ...more
Debbie J
Comeback marks the return of premier mononymous heister, Parker. He re-emerges with a bang, several punches, a few karate chops, and a brutal kick to a foe's groin.

One of the novel's highlights is a well-written pursuit and fight scene between weaponless Parker and a double-crossing partner. It takes place in near total darkness and involves their moving around an abandoned and dangerously trashed multi-level house. Richard Stark's vivid writing puts a virtual video camera into the reader’s hand
I so enjoy the Parker series. Although I am grateful to have found these books, I am sad that Donald Westlake (Richard Stark) is gone and no longer writing any new ones. But I've got a few more to go. This one is especially good as Parker and his cronies do a heist of a Christian crusade. Of course there's a double cross, but Parker always survives for the next robbery.
Mike Jensen
There was a 23 year gap between the first series of 17 Parker novels and the next series of a half-dozen. While Donald E. Westlake, writing as Richard Stark, had a very successful career as a genre novelist, the last of the 17 was not very good and neither is COMEBACK, the aptly titled first book of the second series.

After the structural disaster that was BUTCHER'S MOON, Westlake was wise to stricture this one as he had most of the others. It helps. Parker himself seems to have lost as step, ans
I'm glad there was a comeback. Dealing with crooked churches and back stabbing. Puts Parker right back into the thick of it all; getting double crossed and locked in a closet by the bad guys who wanted the money. Some of the characters are a little harsher than normal Parker novels, but I like the idea of those hoodlums talking that way to give it some good context for accidentally killing the brothers sister without their knowledge. There were a lot of players in this but it all comes back down ...more
John Defrog
As the title suggests, this novel marks the late 90s return of master heister Parker, last seen in the mid-70s in Butcher’s Moon. Perhaps wisely, Stark doesn’t even acknowledge the time gap between Parker novels or the simple fact that Parker is technically 23 years older, in which case he would probably be pushing 60. Like Batman and James Bond, Parker doesn’t really age: he just is. On the other hand, there are some noticeable differences from the earlier books, such as a relatively lighter to ...more
Alex Gherzo
After a twenty-three year absence, Parker came roaring back to life in Comeback, jumping from the 70's to the late 90's and not missing a single ruthless beat. Neither does Stark, writing as though he had never stopped producing Parker books. This time, Parker joins a crew that robs a religious megashow, but as always, things go wrong and Parker has to hunt down a traitor while keeping one step ahead of the police and the preacher's security team.


The jump in time since Butcher's Moon
Comeback was the first Parker novel in 23 years (the last being Butcher's Moon in 1974). It is also the first Parker story I have read (which is a crime in itself).

Parker is a career criminal, and as the story opens, he has teamed up with George Liss, Ed Mackey to rob William Archibald. Archibald is a big time TV evangelist, and he holds Christian Crusades at football stadiums, where his flock attend and hand over large amounts of cash in donations.

Parker and his team intend to relieve Archibald
Bill Williams
The fictional thief known only as Parker has a 46 year career thanks to his creator Richard Stark. Donald Westlake writing under the pen name Richard Stark draws a hard-boiled world in a series of thrillers starring the cool-headed professional criminal. The cunning survivor first arrives in 1962 in “The Hunter” when Parker goes on a personal quest to avenge himself on his ex-partners. They had taken his share of a big score and left him for dead. He robbed, bullied, schemed and killed his way p ...more
Aaron Schmidt
After shelving the amoral protagonist Parker for more than twenty years, it was entertaining to see Westlake bring him back to action in the aptly-named 'Comeback.' Having read every Parker novel recently to catch up, I was particularly attuned to the change in eras, and waiting to see how the passage of time would affect both the narrative and the writing.

First, the writing: Westlake lingers a little longer on his characters, giving us more insight into them as creations and himself as a creat
John Hood
Bound: Three More the Had Way

Parker is Back to Kick Your Ass

SunPost Weekly March 31, 2011 | John Hood

Seems like only yesterday I was heralding another stack of Richard Stark re-racks and basking in the black and blue of it all. Alas that was last August, which is far too many yesterdays to let lapse before we do it all over again. No, don't worry. This won't be a repeat. Not really. It will though be another call for you to hit your local book joint and pocket a fistful of
Feb 04, 2008 Chadwick rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Chadwick by: Darwyn Cooke
Shelves: noir
I can't stop reading Richard Stark's Parker novels. Seriously, I think I've gone through like six of them in the past two months. They're just somehow so good. Parker is an amoral machine, cutting a swath through reality to get what he wants. In the case of Comeback, Parker, Mackey, Brenda, and a nasty dude named George Liss go in together to rob a televangelist's revival taking place in a football stadium. The job goes off without a hitch, and then the doublecross. And then some other bad stuf ...more
Tim Niland
In 1974 after the epic Butcher's Moon, Richard Stark's great anti-hero Parker went quiet. Twenty-three years later, Stark (aka crime writing legend Donald Westlake) revived the character with one of the best entries in the entire series. Parker and his fellow criminals have a line on an all-cash traveling religious crusade. They find an inside man who is sick of the hypocrisy of the pseudo preacher and wants to get even. With the inside man growing increasingly nervous, Parker knocks him out, an ...more
After lying dormant for nearly 25 years, Parker returns in this noticeably thicker volume. A staple of the series has always been the economic, lean, to-the-point prose. Most Parker novels don't push 200 pages, so just looking over the sheer page length of the post-Butcher's Moon titles has me a bit concerned (they're all hovering around 300 pages). The first half of Comeback is excellent, and I initially welcomed the more-than-usual plot threads. Unfortunately, juggling all these plot lines and ...more
So book number 17 is my second Parker story. A 50 pence combination of this and "Flashfire" in a second hand book shop, nice! I will devour these books, they are so in line with my tastes as to be bespoke. This has a similar double-cross built into it so I'm hoping that isn't a staple of every story, but the situation; robbing a evangelical money-raising event in the Mid-West leads to some unique scenarios. Everyone blabs about their crimes, people get too rough trying to extract information, co ...more
Steve Isaak
Comeback is an excellent, hard-to-set-down crime thriller with lots of action, plot twists, colorful characters and lean 'n' mean writing that is Stark's trademark style. Great series, all of the books in this series thus far are worth owning.

Followed by Backflash.

(This review originally appeared on the Reading & Writing By Pub Light site.)
Aaron Martz
Not one of the better Parker books. Reads like a first draft in need of heavy revision. It starts out simple, gets complicated in a good way with an unforeseen set of antagonists screwing up Parker's ingenious plan, then piles on the complications, with a crooked cop, a dead girl, and a nice stab at evangelism. All of this stuff is fun, and even more fun is when Parker pretends to be an insurance investigator and gets right in there with the men who are after him. It falls apart at the climax, h ...more
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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 Jugger (Parker, #6)
  • The Seventh (Parker, #7)
  • The Handle (Parker, #8)
  • The Rare Coin Score (Parker, #9)
  • The Green Eagle Score (Parker, #10)
The Hunter (Parker, #1) The Man With The Getaway Face (Parker, #2) The Outfit (Parker, #3) The Score (Parker, #5) The Mourner (Parker, #4)

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