Kemper's Reviews > The Handle

The Handle by Richard Stark
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Dec 24, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: bad-guys-rule, crime-mystery, thieves, parker

When Parker finally settled his differences with the Outfit, he didn’t expect to get any job offers from them. However, a guy named Baron has set up a profitable casino operation on his own private island in the Gulf of Mexico, and the head of the Outfit can’t stand that they aren’t getting a piece of the action so he enlists Parker to rip off Baron and burn down his operation.

Since he needs cash after the events of the last couple of books, Parker agrees and begins planning his own version of D-Day with a small crew of stick-up men invading the island. As usual, Parker will have to contend with people he can’t trust and a twist that puts him on the radar of the U.S. government.

Another short but solid Parker adventure. The thing I continue to enjoy the most about these books is Parker’s blunt but efficient nature. The thief continues to be annoyed at anything he considers a waste of time like small-talk or details he doesn’t need to do the job. Despite being a ruthless pragmatist who will kill or double-cross anyone that he thinks can’t be counted on, this book again has Parker going to some trouble and risk to save one of his crew when he could have easily left the man to die. But when he’s thanked for it, Parker can’t grasp why anyone would make a big deal out of it.

The story starts with the standard Richard Stark formula of Parker getting pitched on an odd robbery, the recruiting of a crew, the planning and gathering of equipment, the concerns about someone double-crossing them, and a job that doesn’t go as expected. Then the plot takes some detours and has a different ending than I was expecting, and it was fun having the ending be so far off from where I guessed it’d go.
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Comments (showing 1-23 of 23) (23 new)

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Adam In his early '80s essay for the NY Review of Books, "The Gentrification of Crime," Luc Sante mentioned that this particular entry in the Parker series seemed to him to be responsible for the entire Mack Bolan series.

While that may not be true, it's certainly plausible.

I liked the ending in Mexico, where the old man and his son start throwing rocks at Parker in an attempt to hang on to the money they've found. (I'm remembering that correctly, right?) This series is full of great details like that, where amateurs take pathetic and/or ineffectual steps to do what Parker does seemingly effortlessly.


message 2: by Kemper (last edited Dec 27, 2010 08:12PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kemper Luc Sante wrote the intro that they've used for several of these new reprints. I've never read Bolan, but from what I know, it sounds like a sound theory.

You remembered correctly. I did laugh when they were chucking rocks at Parker and laughed even harder when he just completely ignores them.


message 3: by Mohammed (last edited Dec 28, 2010 02:06AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Mohammed Parker going the distance for his trusted partners is one of the things that makes him appealing,more human. If you dont cross him like Grofield hasnt he will do alot for you.

I like the Mexico part too, the old man,his son was a nice detail. Dont they end up wasting the bad guy ?


message 4: by Dan (new) - rated it 4 stars

Dan Schwent Maybe I'll take on the great Parker reread in 2016.


Kemper Dan wrote: "Maybe I'll take on the great Parker reread in 2016."

I still got a few to finish up.


Adam I've read all the Parker novels up through Breakout.

After Donald Westlake died, I've been holding off on reading Nobody Runs Forever and the last two books. I guess now that Westlake is gone, I don't want to finish the series and know there are no new Parker books to read.


Kemper Adam wrote: "I've read all the Parker novels up through Breakout....

I think I've read the six books left I haven't reviewed including those last three which are almost like a trilogy. I think Butcher's Moon ended up being the last Parker I hadn't read before.


Alex It used to be a pretty expensive read unless you had a library system lucky enough to have a copy. I was, then I found the hardcover at a book sale for $1 and squealed like a pig. A year or two later, the reprints finally started up, but it was (and still is) a hard to find book.


Alex Sorry, was talking about Butcher's Moon there.


Kemper Alex wrote: "It used to be a pretty expensive read unless you had a library system lucky enough to have a copy. I was, then I found the hardcover at a book sale for $1 and squealed like a pig. A year or two lat..."

Yeah, Butcher's Moon was ridiculously hard to find for a long time. That's why I hadn't read it until they did this series of reprints.


message 11: by Adam (new) - rated it 4 stars

Adam I paid stupid money for a hardcover first edition of Butcher's Moon back in the day. I could have saved myself some clams by waiting for the reprint, but I was reading the series in order and wanted to get to it.

Also, I'm happy to have the book now. I have a nice little collection of Westlake/Stark first editions now, some of them signed.


Kemper Adam wrote: "Also, I'm happy to have the book now. I have a nice little collection of Westlake/Stark first editions now, some of them signed..."

I'm jealous. I've got a signed Dortmunder novel, but I'd love to have one of the Starks he autographed.


message 13: by Adam (new) - rated it 4 stars

Adam I have one autographed Stark; a first edition hardcover of Slayground, signed "Donald E Westlake (RS)"


message 14: by Dan (new) - rated it 4 stars

Dan Schwent I bought Flashfire used for two bucks and it wound up being signed in a similar way.


message 15: by Adam (new) - rated it 4 stars

Adam I think he signed a lot of books. I bought a hardcover first edition of The Ax on eBay for $1 and it came autographed, which wasn't even mentioned in the seller's description.


message 16: by Dan (new) - rated it 4 stars

Dan Schwent I loved The Ax!


Kemper The Ax is probably my favorite Westlake. Now I'm extra jealous.


message 18: by Trudi (new)

Trudi Kemper wrote: "The Ax is probably my favorite Westlake. Now I'm extra jealous."

I haven't read a lot of Westlake but The Ax is one of my favorite books period. It's also the only reason why I ever agreed to talk to you.


Kemper Trudi wrote: "It's also the only reason why I ever agreed to talk to you..."

So now I know what's to blame...


message 20: by Trudi (new)

Trudi Kemper wrote: "So now I know what's to blame..."

For all the rich and sweet Canadian-ness added to your cynical lunar landscaped soul? Then yes. Yes you do.


Kemper Trudi wrote: "For all the rich and sweet Canadian-ness added to your cynical lunar landscaped soul? Then yes. Yes you do."

I didn't know that the maple syrup sweetness of Canadian personalities included regularly calling another person an asshole.


message 22: by Trudi (new)

Trudi When the other person deserves it, it is our national duty.


Kemper Trudi wrote: "When the other person deserves it, it is our national duty."

Just because I'm right all the time and you're wrong doesn't mean I deserve to be called names.


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