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Breakout (Parker Series #21)

Breakout (Parker Series #21)

5.0 1
by Richard Stark

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One Way in. No Way Out. Even master criminals make mistakes. Parker's most recent sin has landed him in prison, where it's only a matter of time before the law uncovers his real name-and the extent of his astounding criminal career. To escape, Parker must ignore one of his cardinal rules and take on the only partners he can find. Yet his fellow convicts demand a price


One Way in. No Way Out. Even master criminals make mistakes. Parker's most recent sin has landed him in prison, where it's only a matter of time before the law uncovers his real name-and the extent of his astounding criminal career. To escape, Parker must ignore one of his cardinal rules and take on the only partners he can find. Yet his fellow convicts demand a price: the moment they get free, they want Parker to help them break into a former armory now storing a mother lode of precious gems. For Parker, the plan includes too many people, too many complications, and too many weak links. But with a potential big payoff just ahead, Parker is willing to jump-out of the frying pan, into the fire, and onto a scheme that will soon pit every man against every other. Just the way Parker likes it...

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This fifth book about master criminal Parker since his welcome return from a 20-year hiatus is packed so tightly with the painstaking details of everything from the dank tedium of prison life to the architecture and construction of a Midwestern shopping complex that it comes as a shock to realize the volume isn't bigger than it is. Stark, the nom de crime adopted for this series by MWA Grand Master Donald Westlake, is an artist of compression, with the ability to create a complex, frightening character in very few words. Of an Asian lawyer visiting Parker in prison, he writes, "Li was amused, not by Parker in particular but by his own entire life; it made him easy to be around, but suggested there were circumstances when he might not be completely reliable." But Stark is also remarkable because he seems to know how everything works and can explain it without slowing down the story. Stuck in a fortress-like holding prison "on the outskirts of the only large city in this big empty midwestern state" after a robbery goes bad, Parker links up with two other prisoners in a totally logical way, then plans a breakout (the first of several in the book) so credible that we're swept up in its mechanics. But before he can return to his haven in rural New Jersey, Parker has to pay off the help he received by taking part in another robbery that falls apart in a different way that's just as exhilarating. Watching artists like Stark and Parker at work is a great pleasure, which an increasing audience will be delighted to share. (Nov. 20) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
If nothing else, Breakout proves that it's hard to get good help nowadays. Returning under the guise of the Stark pen name (following last year's Firebreak), mystery author Donald E. Westlake has Parker, a.k.a. Ronald Kasper, involved in the heist of a pharmaceutical company warehouse that goes terribly wrong owing to the ineptness of a confederate. Ending up in the stir, Parker identifies the two prisoners he can depend on to help him break out of their maximum-security prison. Once out, Parker discovers that he's not rid of his colleagues, who then involve him in the knockoff of a wholesale jewelry company, housed in a supposedly impenetrable ex-armory. After the trio successfully gains entrance to the company, they find that extricating themselves from it proves a lot more difficult. When they effect their escape via the good offices of a pizza delivery man, they are faced with having to elude the police as well as the prison authorities before Parker can gracefully excuse himself with the meager swag he's managed to retrieve. With help at such a premium, fans will thank Stark/Westlake for assisting them in making it through another night of guaranteed spare, straight-ahead action and dark humor. For all public libraries.-Bob Lunn, Kansas City P.L., MO Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
When an attempt to lift generic pharmaceuticals from a warehouse goes belly-up, career criminal Ronald Kasper/Edward Johnson/Charles Willis/Edward Lynch/the indomitable Parker, world-class antihero, finds himself in Stoneveldt Prison, friendless and itchy to escape. After Ed Mackey, his pal on the outside, vets them as trustworthy, he settles on inmates Tom Marcantoni and Brandon Williams to effect a breakout and reluctantly agrees to Marcantoni’s plan that once out, they’ll stick around to rob the jewelry wholesaler plying his trade next to a dance studio in the basement of an old armory. With the sort of derring-do Stark and his alter ego Donald E. Westlake are infamous for, the trio, abetted by Mackey and his lover Brenda, are soon out of prison and tunneling into the jewelers. They fill their pockets and stash bags with loot, but on the way out, their tunnel collapses, claiming enough casualties to make Parker very curious about where another exit might be. Would you believe a call to a pizza parlor gets them out? Such are Stark/Westlake’s skills that it’s almost plausible, but there’s still a catch. Poor Brenda’s been railroaded into jail, and Mackey insists they spring her. More authorial sleight-of-hand eventually has Parker hitching his way back to upstate New York and into the arms of his beloved Claire with only three Patek Philippe watches to show for all his trouble.

Lots of carpentry and building razing: a sort of a breaking-and-entering manual for do-it-yourselfers. A minor but very readable effort from master craftsman Stark (Firebreak, 2001, etc.).

Product Details

Hachette Book Group
Publication date:
Parker Series , #21
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
5.00(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.69(d)
Age Range:
13 Years

Read an Excerpt


By Richard Stark

Mysterious Press

Copyright © 2002 Richard Stark
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-446-67825-2

Chapter One

When the alarm went off, Parker and Armiston were far to the rear of the warehouse, Armiston with the clipboard, checking off the boxes they'd want. The white cartons were stacked six feet high to make aisles that stretched to the unpainted concrete block side walls of the building. A wider central aisle ran straight to the loading dock where they'd come in, dismantling the alarms and raising the overhead door.

Then what was this alarm, five minutes after they'd broken in? "That idiot Bruhl," Armiston said, throwing the clipboard away in exasperation. "He went into the office."

Parker was already loping toward the central aisle. Behind him, Armiston cried, "God damn it! Fingerprints!" and ran back to pick up the clipboard.

Parker turned into the main aisle, running, and saw far away the big door still open, the empty truck backed against it. George Walheim, the lockman who'd got them in here, stood by the open doorway, making jerky movements, not quite running away.

These were all generic pharmaceuticals in here, and Armiston had the customer, at an airfield half an hour north. The plan was, by tomorrow these medicines would be offshore, more valuable than in the States, and the four who'd done the job would earn a nice percentage.

But that wasn't going to happen. Bruhl, brought in by Armiston, was supposed to have gotten a forklift truck, so he could run it down the main aisle to pick up the cartons Parker and Armiston had marked. Instead of which, he'd gone to see what he could lift from the office. But Walheim hadn't cleared the alarm system in the office.

As Parker ran down the long aisle, Armiston a dozen paces behind, Bruhl appeared, coming fast out of the first side aisle down there. Walheim tried to clutch at him, but Bruhl hit him with a backhand that knocked the thinner man down.

Parker yelled, "Bruhl! Stop!" but Bruhl kept going. He jumped to the ground outside the loading dock, next to the truck, then ran toward the front of it. He was going to take it, leave the rest of them here on foot.

There was no way to stop him, no way to get there in time. Walheim was still on hands and knees, looking for his glasses, when the truck jolted away from the loading dock. Outside was the darkness of four A.M., spotted with thin lights high on the corners of other buildings in this industrial park.

The truck, big rear doors flapping, heeled hard on the right turn at the end of the blacktop lot, Bruhl still accelerating. The empty truck was topheavy, it wasn't going to make it.

Walheim was on his feet, patting his glasses into place, when Parker ran by. "What do we-?" But Parker was gone, jumping off the loading dock to run away leftward as behind him the truck crashed over onto its side and scraped along the pavement until it ran into a utility pole, knocking it over. The few lights around here went dark.

There was nothing in this area but the industrial park, empty at night. No houses, no bars, no churches, no schools. There were no pedestrians out here at four in the morning, no cars driving by.

Parker had run less than a block when he heard the sirens, far behind him but coming fast. There was nowhere to go to cover, no point trying to break into another of these buildings. Fleets of trucks here and there stood in lines behind high fences.

Parker kept running. Armiston and Walheim were wherever they wanted to be, and Parker tried to keep the sound of sirens behind him. But the sirens spread, left and right and then everywhere, slicing and dicing the night.

Parker ran down the middle of an empty street and ahead of him headlights came around a corner, a bright searchlight beam fastened on him. He stopped. He put his hands on top of his head.


Excerpted from Breakout by Richard Stark Copyright © 2002 by Richard Stark . Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

DONALD E. WESTLAKE, aka Richard Stark, has written numerous novels over the past thirty-five years under his own name and pseudonyms, including Richard Stark. Many of his books have been made into movies, including , which became the brilliant film noir Point Blank, and the 1999 smash hit Payback. He penned the Hollywood scripts for The Stepfather and The Grifters, which was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Screenplay. The winner of three Edgar awards and a Mystery Writers of America Grand Master, Donald E. Westlake was presented with The Eye, the Private Eye Writers of America's Lifetime Achievement Award, at the Shamus Awards.

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Breakout (Parker Series #21) 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
harstan More than 1 year ago
Thanks to incompetent partners failing to do the assigned jobs during a pharmaceutical heist, master thief Parker using the name Kasper lands in the Stoneveldt Detention Center, a maximum-security holding jail in a Midwest state. Not noted for wanting to be a guest of any state, Parker selects two colleagues Tom Marcantoni and Brandon Williams to bust out of jail. The trio successfully escapes their incarceration. However, before Parker can return to the haven of New Jersey, he reluctantly agrees to rob a wholesale jewelry company that keeps its inventory in an armory. Parker and his partners easily gain entrance to the supposedly impenetrable artifice, but leaving proves disastrous as their entrance-exit tunnel collapses. Through a pizza delivery, Parker escapes, but now prison officials and the police seek to capture the elusive thief while other demands on his time do not allow him to do what he most wants: relax in the Garden State. In the usual amusing yet stark story line, Richard Stark provides a tremendous antihero crime thriller. Parker is as always a delightful criminal and his partners bring out the best or perhaps the worst in him. All this action leads to the star going home with such a small bounty that his girlfriend wonders whether it was worth the score. Another win for readers as this one evening sitting is a triumphant tale that shows how a talented author can use the English language sparingly to paint a masterpiece summed in one word Parker. Harriet Klausner