Stephen's Reviews > The Outfit

The Outfit by Richard Stark
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Dec 29, 11

bookshelves: ebooks, kings-of-badassia, audiobook, 1954-1969, crime, hardboiled-and-noir
Read from December 25 to 28, 2011 — I own a copy

Drip…Drip…Drip
Drip…Drip...Drip

…that is the sound of icy cold, 80 proof, liquid badasseliciousness seeping from every pore of Richard Stark’s mantastic anti-hero, Parker. Over the past several seasons, thanks in large part to Kemper and Dan), I have become a big fan of crime fiction. During my reading excursions, I have come across some very engaging characters with high quotients of rough and tumble nastiness.

Parker is in a mold-breaking class by himself.

He’s unlike anyone else I've stumbled upon within the noiry, hardboiled pages of the criminal thriller. I see Parker less as a man and more of a force of nature. A violent and devastating storm, especially when some criminal douchewacker sucks on the stupid pipe and decides to wrong him (which, Odin help them, they always do). When this happens, when his hackles redden and his dander rises, Parker will crystallize his focus into the relentless pursuit of putting paid to payback and the man is well nigh unstoppable.

He…is…THE…man.

PLOT SUMMARY:

Note: If you haven’t read the first two parker novels, you should really start with The Hunter and The Man With the Getaway Face as events from those two stories form the foundation for much of this story.

In this third installment of the series, a seriously misguided member of the Outfit (i.e., the mob, organized crime, the Commission, etc.) sends a hitman to cap Parker. He fails…of course. However, before Parker allows the killer to expire from Parker’s ungentle ministrations, he “convinces” the scumbag to offer up the names of the "soon to be deceased" people who put the hit on him.

Parker Action item #1: Bring world of hurt to criminal idiots who crossed him, including the head of the Outfit, Arthur Branson. Check.

However, it gets even better. You see, Parker had previously promised the Outfit (in The Hunter) that if they ever crossed him again, he would get some of his “like minded associates” to punch them in the wallet. Parker is a man of his word so he sits down and writes 50 letters to 50 different people, each along the lines of the following:
Frank,

The Outfit thinks it has a grievance on me. It doesn’t. But it keeps sending its punks around to make trouble. I told their headman, I’d give them money trouble if they didn’t quit, and they didn’t quit. You told me one time about a lay you worked for that gambling place outside of Boston, and you’d do me a favor if you knocked it off in the next couple of weeks. I’m writing some of the other boys too so you can be sure they’ll be too busy to go looking for you special. I don’t want a cut and I can’t come in on the job because I’ll be busy making trouble myself. You can always get in touch with me care of Joe Sheer out in Omaha. Maybe we’ll work together again some day.
What an awesome setup for a story. The rest of the novel is like a series of Oceans 11-like mini-capers as some experienced craftsman bring their unique talents to knocking over some of the Outfit's most lucrative operations.

All the while Parker engages in his one man beat down against the Outfit leading to a final confrontation with its head, Arthur Branson.

Anyone want to guess who comes out on top?

THOUGHTS:

I love these novels to the point of being a bit clingy. They are my benchmark for crime fiction. Stark’s writing style, his delivery, his pacing and his plotting are damn near perfect for this genre. As for Parker, he's a masterpiece and Stark's description of his physical appearance in The Hunter is pure gold:
big and shaggy, with flat square shoulders...His hands…looked like they were molded of brown clay by a sculptor who thought big and liked veins. His hair was brown and dry and dead, blowing around his head like a poor toupee about to fly loose. His face was a chipped chunk of concrete, with eyes of flawed onyx. His mouth was a quick stroke, bloodless.
Basically, he’s the kind of guy that scares cancer and can make a dead man piss himself.

As for his character profile, it’s pretty simple and yet so very unique. He isn’t good, he isn’t evil. He has no friends, but he’s also not lonely. He has companionship when he wants it or when he’s doing a job, otherwise solitude is just dandy with him. He moves through society unseen making scores to cover his expenses. He has no aspirations for power or wealth, except to the extent the latter allows him some periodic downtime to relax and enjoy some comforts.

Finally, he is also very smart. He doesn’t quote sonnets or study the mathematics of string theory, but he's clever, shrewd and has gift for strategic planning and tactics. He is also very serious and doesn't break cover. Stark once described him as always playing it straight in the novel. As Stark put it, “Never once have I caught him winking at the reader.”

That is good stuff and this novel is great fun.

4.0 stars. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
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Comments (showing 1-16 of 16) (16 new)

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Kemper It's Parkerlooza!


Richard Reviles Censorship Always in All Ways Basically, he’s the kind of guy that scares cancer and can make a dead man piss himself.

Am not.


Stephen Are too!!


Richard Reviles Censorship Always in All Ways Am not am not!! I know *you* are, but what am *I*?


message 5: by Tilly (new)

Tilly Slaton heh


Stephen Richard wrote: "Am not am not!! I know *you* are, but what am *I*?"

Me = Rubber
You = Glue

Any another thing, my Mom said I'm better than you so there. Nyah, Nyah.


Stephen Tilly wrote: "heh"

Tilly, as you can see, my reviews attract the most sophisticated of discussions.


Richard Reviles Censorship Always in All Ways my Mom said I'm better than you so there.

Actually, if she were still alive, MY mom would probably say so too. Nasty old battleax.

I can't remember having a five-year-old fight in forever. Maybe this New Year will be the one inaugurating my second childhood!


Stephen Cool, maybe we could take the pillows off the couch and make a sweet fort.


message 10: by Tilly (new)

Tilly Slaton Stephen wrote: "Tilly wrote: "heh"

Tilly, as you can see, my reviews attract the most sophisticated of discussions."


By all means continue :)

I'm editing so this keeps me giggling and helps keep that alltooseriouslyfocussed look off my face!


Richard Reviles Censorship Always in All Ways Stephen wrote: "Cool, maybe we could take the pillows off the couch and make a sweet fort."

MY couch has one BIIIG pillow for a bottom, it's like seven feet long, and the loveseat's got two but they're covered in ugly, scratchy stuff, but the settee we can't use cause it's silk and it's really really old and stuff.


message 12: by Mark (new)

Mark Basically, he’s the kind of guy that scares cancer and can make a dead man piss himself.

Where do you find these lines from. I love it. please let me use that in a conversation sometime in 2012. I will give you the credit, i promise


Stephen Mark wrote: "Basically, he’s the kind of guy that scares cancer and can make a dead man piss himself.

Where do you find these lines from. I love it. please let me use that in a conversation sometime in 2012..."


Use away, Mark. It's all yours, I'm glad you liked it.


message 14: by Dusko (new)

Dusko Doder Lovely review. I'd like to see you review my novel The Firebird Affair.Cheers


message 15: by Mike (new) - added it

Mike Great review, goin' on the TBR at a high level!


Stephen Mike, if you have never read this series, I think you are going to love it. They are terrific.


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