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The Hunter

(Parker #1)

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  11,149 ratings  ·  828 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, 208 pages
Published 1962 by Pocket Books
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- Jared - ₪ Book Nerd ₪ Parker isn't really a 'good guy'. He's no noble hero and doesn't want to be. He completely 'in it' for himself. It's a serious game of life and death …moreParker isn't really a 'good guy'. He's no noble hero and doesn't want to be. He completely 'in it' for himself. It's a serious game of life and death and money, and he's in it to win at whatever the cost, besides his own life or money. He doesn't give a shit about morals.

Parker has trusted and loved and been vulnerable with the woman he loved, a woman he married, and in the end what did it get him, she choose to save her own skin and betrayed him by trying to kill him. He vows to never again trust anyone like that again. Maybe at one time he had morals. Maybe one time he cared about the innocent and who he hurt. Maybe that was then, this is now, and now, it's one man for himself, and he doesn't give a shit.

I don't think many find themselves relating to Parker. We don't really find ourselves caring about the guy either. This is an action book series so, we read it for the action, not the emotional attachment to characters. And yet, many of the readers do find themselves rooting for Parker... at least I do. Had this been my first Parker book, I think I'd be turned off to the series but Flashfire was my first read and I found that I really liked it.

I think it is because it's one man, one bad guy, against the world of other bad guys. He has his own sort of principals, his own code if you will, that you get the feeling he'll abandon at the drop of a hat if he has to to save his skin. He killed a woman by accident and didn't really seem to brood over it too much other than he seemed to kinda regret it. <spoiler> When his wife committed suicide, </spoiler> he didn't really show any reverence to her body or show any hint of mourning her loss. He doesn't seem to like killing but he won't think twice about doing it if it suites him.

Care about Parker; no, I care about Parker as much as he'd care for me if he were real. Relate to Parker; not unless I'm wanted for murder, let me check, nope. Want to see Parker beat impossible odds in his own ruthlessly methodical sagacious way...? Definitely.(less)

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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
Bill Kerwin
Jan 01, 2009 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.
Dave Schaafsma
Feb 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Okay, so I did this backwards, read my first Parker via Darwyn Cooke’s sixties retro illustrated version, which I liked, but you know, the source material is better, natch. This is a short classic that introduces Parker, a brutal thief bent in this first book on revenge. Which you have to admit is an interesting iin media res place to begin, right? Betrayed and left for dead by his wife, double-crossed by Mal, his partner in crime, Parker rather methodically takes out person after person on the ...more
Nov 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is not a graphic novel. It is the Richard Stark novel that includes eight or nine full page illustrations by Darwyn Cooke.

I can not recommend this book highly enough.

Not is it a great example of great writing by Mr. Westlake, it is also an amazingly well produced book. Beautifully bound in leather and cloth, with extraordinary end papers and utilizing heavy paper stock, this is a treat for any lover of fine quality book making.

If you have not read this book there is a part of your reading l
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 as
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
Glenn Russell

“When a fresh-faced guy in a Chevy offered him a lift, Parker told him to go to hell.”

The above is the first line of the first chapter of The Hunter, the first Parker novel by Donald E. Westlake writing as Richard Stark.

Mr. Westlake told an interviewer: "All fiction starts with language, what kind of language do you use - starts with the language, then goes to the story, then goes to the people." And regarding his Parker novels specifically: "I want the language to be very stripped down and ble
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
Jan 20, 2012 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
Nov 09, 2012 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
Algernon (Darth Anyan)
May 08, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Algernon (Darth Anyan) 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
Mike (the Paladin)
Sep 28, 2015 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
Jason Koivu
Sep 27, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: crime, fiction
Parker is a BAAAD man! Actually, a better descriptive would be "dick". Parker is a dick. I don't remember the last time I met a main character this reprehensible...Perhaps Humbert Humbert from Lolita, but he was more of a perverted douche.

Now, that's not to say Parker doesn't have his reasons for committing various murders and beating his wife to the point of torture. He was double crossed, after all. Of course, this happened during a heist in which he planned to do the double crossing. See what
Aug 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
I like my fantasy grimdark, my horror hopeless, and my sleuths mean. Parker fits the bill here, because he is absolutely vicious. He is not a traditional sleuth, however. His mysteries generally involve him looking for particular people to murder and organizations to rob.

If you want a good example of Parker's personality, just imagine the X-Men's Wolverine without powers and without a shred of conscience. This book is a really fun ride and I will definitely be checking out more from this series
Oct 21, 2015 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
Jul 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
One of the most thrilling debut noir crime series i ever read, it introduced me to one of my favorite characters of all time : PARKER a man of very few words and of great accomplishments ...
The synopsis is crazy , the writing is light , fast and to the point our hero doesn't know the meaning of wasting time, he has one goal and one purpose only : get revenge on those who betrayed him , cheated him of his score and left him for dead unwillingly and incompetently ...
(view spoiler)
Feb 21, 2013 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
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 fighting, although I d
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 app ...more
Jan 12, 2011 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
Jul 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, fiction, 2014, noir
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
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
Feb 08, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was brutal. Like a screwdriver up your ass. A brutal tale of revenge. Usually, in crime novels and movies, the guy taking revenge is some violent guy with a soft spot for women and children. None of that sentimental stuff here. Parker, the wronged conman wouldn't mind killing a couple of women, to get back at Mal Resnick, the man who stole his money and his woman after a heist.

The world that Richard Stark creates is so animalistic. A primal struggle between two men over money and a woman.
Jan 10, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: to-read-in-2021
One of the grimmest, bleakest crime novels I’ve had the (pleasure?) of reading. I found this book after watching the excellent film Point Blank starring Lee Marvin, which was directly based on The Hunter. While I think I enjoyed the film more than the novel, the novel is certainly a darker tale.

Richard Stark’s Parker is nothing short of a brutal protagonist. Brutal. He kills people at the drop of a hat, and he’s not afraid to get violent with anyone and everyone who stands in his way and his mo
“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.”


Betrayed by wife, double-crossed by partner, left for death by both. Revenge incarnate, thy name is Parker.

For many years, my acquaintance with the professional thief - and sociopath, more than likely - occurred purely through adaptations. The first, that surreal, French new wave insp
Jan 27, 2014 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
Sep 04, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: thriller
Parker is a bank robber, left for dead as his gang members manipulate his wife into killing him after a big score. Manipulative Mal uses the money to buy his way back into the good graces of the Outfit. Parker returns to NYC to even the score, and has to draw Mal out from the comforts of working for a criminal syndicate. Parker is a major bad ass, and no stranger to threatening people and following through on those threats.
Cathy DuPont
May 27, 2013 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
Dec 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a classic hard boiled noir novel. Written in 62. Parker our hero, it could be a first name or a surname.

A story of vengeance and crosses and double crosses. A classic tale with precise words with no word out of place. A tale of getting back what you lost in the past and how to pay back all the friends and foes that you met on your adventure

I really enjoyed the book but as it’s written in 62 is quiet dated to today’s standards, but it’s a great series opener and I may read the next two
Bill Lynas
Nov 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
Richard Stark's first novel featuring (the very violent) Parker was published in 1962 & is still as hard hitting today. Shot & left for dead doesn't stop Parker from taking revenge on the people who tried to kill him. The story is perhaps more well known as the film Point Blank (with Lee Marvin) & the Mel Gobson remake Payback. ...more
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book/graphic novel different endings 3 19 Jul 05, 2013 04:54PM  
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A pseudonym used by Donald E. Westlake. ...more

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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