RE: RARA-AVIS: Dirty Money by Richard Stark

From: Ron Clinton (
Date: 23 Jul 2008

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    I finished both of these within the last couple of weeks, and agree they're an interesting study in contrasts and illustrate a writing talent of grandmaster proportions (as if any more evidence was actually needed).

    I have to say, though, the last couple Parker novels have been moderate disappointments, and this one joins their ranks. I understand this is the third of a trilogy of sorts, so I hope the next Parker will set a higher standard and harken back to the masterful novels that came before.

    Too many characters, a shallow plot with a subdued tone, and a narrative that, at times, seemed to meander more than advance. DIRTY MONEY was not the lean and mean Parker of old; this Parker seemed as tired and plodding as the narrative drive of the novel itself. I'll grant you it's still worth reading for the Parker fan in most of us...but I doubt it'll garner any news fans into our ranks.

    For yet another (and better) take on Westlake, his five Tucker Coe novels featuring the disgraced and depressed Mitchell Tobin are quite good. They walk a middle path between the breezy Dortmunder novels (and SOMEBODY OWES ME MONEY) and the Stark novels, and are compelling mysteries that, through Tobin's character, have much to say about the human capacity for shame and redemption.

    Ron C.

    > -----Original Message-----
    > From: [] On
    > Behalf Of davezeltserman
    > Sent: Tuesday, July 22, 2008 3:39 PM
    > To:
    > Subject: RARA-AVIS: Dirty Money by Richard Stark
    > This latest Parker book is a nice entry in the series, with a a great
    > last line. Kind of interesting reading this right after the Hardcase
    > Crime reprint of Westlake's "Somebody Owes Me Money". You couldn't
    > have more different protagonists between Parker's efficient and deadly
    > career criminal and Chester Conway, the schlemiely cab driver hero of
    > Somebody Owes Me Money who's only trying to keep mobsters from killing
    > him while at the same time trying to figure out how to collect the
    > $930 owed him. It would also be hard to have more different styles of
    > hardboiled crime--from the breezy, somewhat comedic style of Somebody
    > to the terse, little honor among thieves style of Dirty Money. The one
    > thing both books have in common is the characters act intelligently
    > and there's a logic driving the story, as well as constantly
    > increasing complications that the protagonists face. Westlake is truly
    > one of the greats in crime fiction.
    > --Dave Z.
    > ------------------------------------
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