- Paperback: 208 pages
- Publisher: Mysterious Press (1 March 1999)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0446674648
- ISBN-13: 978-0446674645
- Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 1.2 x 20.3 cm
- Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
Payback Paperback – Import, 1 Mar 1999
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Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
The prose is tough but smooth; pointed but effective. It's almost as if Stark can't help the fact that Parker has one basic trait: intimidating personal power. Parker uses this trait to achieve precisely what he wants and needs. Stark imbues Parker with an inner drive and devotion to accomplishment that operates his behavior relentlessly towards his goal of success. To say that Parker never takes no for answer is to see one facet of his way of being. Parker lets nothing stand in his way or his purpose. He may get momentarily stymied, but, through sheer will, forces the outcome to his satisfaction. Parker takes no guff from any mugg, and hands out punishment as he sees fit. His manner isn't quite poetic, but within the framework of noir fiction he is exquisitely descriptive. This novel has been adapted into two outstanding motion pictures, both highly recommended as true examples of the cinematic art; "Payback" with Mel Gibson and "Point Blank" with Lee Marvin. Stark's original title is "The Hunter", but publishing and marketing dancing to the tune called by the film industry, find later reprints displaying the title of "Payback" to capture that 21st Century discretionary spending.
Try it, you'll like it, and you'll be hard pressed to interrupt your pleasure in the reading of it.
Parker is the kind of guy who, if you're forced into contact with him, you want him on your side. The quintessential antihero, he's someone you feel soiled for identifying with, but can't help yourself.
Richard Stark, alias Donald E. Westlake, wanted to create a character he could use to sell a book a bit more hard-boiled than the stuff he'd been writing, and Parker was the result. The Hunter, the first Parker novel, turned out to be such a success that he;s had sixteen more books written about him. But it's the first one everyone knows, thanks in no small part to two film adaptations, the most recent of which is 1999's Payback, with Mel Gibson as the good/bad guy.
The plot: Parker is back in New York after his wife and an associate double-crossed him on a big job. He wants revenge. He also wants his share of the take.
Yes, that's the entire plot. Seems kind of thin, right? Not if you're Donald E. Westlake, one of the undisputed masters of the twentieth-century American mystery. The book plays out like your typical revenge storyline, with most of your typical characters, and to be fair there's a lot of stereotype writ large here. This is not deathless literature by any means. What it is, however, is good old-fashioned fast-paced meaty writing. Westlake-- erm, Stark-- knows how to keep the pages turning, his characters are well-drawn enough to be distinct from one another, and everything comes to an ending that is, if not happy, a resounding success.
The hardboiled mystery/thriller is the testosterone-fueled version of the romance novel, and Richard Stark does it better than most. Sure, it's empty calories, but that's part of what makes it so good. *** ?