Re: RARA-AVIS: Flashfire by Richard Stark

From: M Blumenthal (
Date: 10 Sep 2001

Carrie Pruett asks,

> I picked Flashfire up as my first Westlake-as-Stark (though I've seen
> Blank" and unfortunately "Payback") and was a little surprised by it. The
> first part - which has Parker matter-of-factly performing a number of
> violent robberies to fund a revenge scheme - was about what I expected,
> once he got set up in Palm Beach, it got more satirical and seemed more
> a Dortmunder book with more gunplay(though Parker himself never lightened
> up). I haven't quite got to the end, yet, so I'm not sure if the book
> reverts to a more spare, hardboiled style in the end. Anyway, I'm
> definitely liking the book, it's just not what I expected (or rather the
> beginning was but the middle wasn't). I'm curious how this one rates
> compared to the other Stark books.
You should have started with Hunter/Point Blank/Payback which is the first in the series. I think Flashfire may be the worst in the series. One of the robberies he commits at the beginning of the book might have been the basis of one of the earlier books by itself. In Flashfire they are sort of thrown in as simple prelimininaries to the rest. It is the first book in the series that has parts that are clearly written by Westlake, not Richard Stark.. The whole bit with the woman who is married to a much younger man might be in one of his comic novels, but should never be in a Parker book. I think it would be out of place even in a Grofield novel.(Richard Stark's lighter series.) Mark

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