Marc Weidenbaum's Reviews > The Black Ice Score

The Black Ice Score by Richard Stark
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Aug 18, 2009

Read in August, 2009

Definitely my least favorite of the Stark/Parker books thus far, as I make my way through them sequentially.

It's definitely the case that the arrival of Claire means less of the Parker we've known -- his ritual is different, and for all her toughness, she ends up causing trouble. This many years after The Thin Man, I would have hoped he'd have more of an equal as a partner.

Anyhow, the book's about a diamond heist related to an African nation that uses a Manhattan museum as a hideaway. Parker has a new role, in that he's pretty much teaching all the African soldiers how to do and to deal with crime in the U.S. -- how to do a heist.

There's a chapter toward the end of the book which is, aside from an opening sentence, entirely a monologue by Parker -- easily he says more words in that chapter than in all the preceding Parker books combined. What he says is believable. That he says as much as he does is less so.
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Mark Yes, the "Parker as teacher" aspect kept the book interesting. Except that it's almost impossible to imagine Parker having the patience to teach anyone anything, and especially not at these billing rates.

The overall awkwardness of this novel suggests to me that Westlake, as a writer, really lost track of what he was trying to do, and needed to create a new character and mode to do it: hence my HOT ROCK theory, the plot of which is remarkably similar to this BLACK ICE.

The bad news is BLACK ICE is not very good (relative to the others, which set a pretty high bar); the good news is, we got the Dortmunder series, which is a wonderful thing.


P.S. And you're right, that monologue section was just bizarre.

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