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Written over the course of fifty years, the Parker novels are pure artistry, adrenaline, and logic both brutal and brilliant. Join Parker on his jobs and read them all again or for the first time. A quemarropa. Dirty Money. He has never for one moment considered himself human. What does he consider himself to be? The Jugger , to me, is one of the finest short novels ever produced in any genre. A minor masterpiece. Auteur theory cuts both ways. Westlake would not have agreed. He repeatedly called The Jugger the worst failure he ever had.

And that kind of failure, real or perceived and art is all about perceptions anyway, right? A do-over. He makes a run for it too soon, the hounds will get him. Tarries too long, same deal. The heist comes to Parker, via a most unexpected finger, with a story of his own to tell. Parker has a secondary motivation to stick around. A big stash of poorly guarded cash. A very fine and oddly revealing late entry in the Parker series resulted. I still think The Jugger is better as a standalone story, simpler anyway, but this center panel of the final Starkian Triptych has murky depths of its own to plumb.

Ask the Parrot picks up minutes after the end of Nobody Runs Forever , with Parker still climbing a steep wooded slope. He looks up, and sees a man holding a hunting rifle. At some point in that climb, he crossed into New York state from northwest Massachusetts. My guess is Rensselaer County. He saw news coverage of the robbery and the subsequent manhunt. He ostensibly went out to plink a few rabbits, but really he was hoping to run into a genuine bank robber.

Someone with the guts to pull that kind of job. A fugitive could find respite there. But what is it Lindahl needs from him? It was named afer a farm feed company that went bankrupt forty years ago. They never changed the name. Hired people, contracted out. I was nothing to do with money. It was like doing something dirty to a member of my own family. The strain of getting his point across was deepening the lines in his face. What he found out was that the people who owned the track were using it to launder money given to state politicians running for reelection.

Tom went to the state police. He wore a wire still with the wires.

But the people this scandal would have touched had too much suction. So in the end, the only one who lost his job and his wife was the whistle-blower. He knows the track inside-out. He still goes in there some nights, just walks around, never gets caught, and if he sees a new lock, he finds the key and copies it. You get the feeling he still considers it to be his, somehow.

Nor does he have the guts do to it alone. He needs an expert. He needs a secret sharer. They caught him comes out later that the cash from the bank was new, and extremely traceable. The first thing you expect a pro in that position to do is give up the location of the money for a lighter sentence. Meaning Parker is back to square one, and now that track is starting to look good to him.


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Back to the races. But before they have a chance to discuss it further, a car parks outside the converted garage Tom lives in now.

Description

Tom wants to know if Parker is there or not. Used to know him from the Rod and Gun Club. Sure there are. So many that when the law tries to look for an Ed Smith in their fancy databases, later in the book, they get an overload of useless data. Parker laying down a false trail for the hounds. Even though my workplace directory has sixteen of them. Half as many Joneses. So anyway Fred is all hepped up over the manhunt for the bank robbers.

Fred wants Tom to pitch in and do his bit. Blend into the herd. Tom is nervous about giving Parker a gun. More on them later. All the troopers overseeing the search make it clear they think this posse thing is a dumb-ass idea, but whoever had it outranks them, and at least this heads off any freelance vigilante crap. They do their best to send the deputies to very isolated places where the robbers are least likely to be found.

But in a Parker novel, that kind of luck is thin in the ground. They get assigned to search Wolf Peak hmmmm , the site of an old abandoned railroad station, from the days when there was still a lumber industry there. The roof of the station has fallen in, there are trees growing up out of it. There are signs its owner heard them coming, forced his way through the bramble to escape. They hear somebody running through the brush, give pursuit. Tom yells at Fred not to do it. He does anyway. Fred, the light in his eyes dimming, asks why he was running.

Tom as well. Good chance Fred serves a short prison sentence. He and Tom will be implicated. The old hobo was killing himself, just more slowly and painfully. It was a mistake, why beat yourself up about it? Why be a martyr? Corpse picked clean, bones carried off to gnaw on.

Been a long time since there were any of those at Wolf Peak. Not being human, he only kills when he has to. He tries to sound sympathetic, compassionate. Not really his strong suit. He really has been watching us a long time now, knows more than he used to about how our minds work, how to manipulate us.

There are, however, still significant gaps in his understanding of our mental make-up. Well, that would be true of anyone , right? For those who have read Ripley Underground; I see the parallels, and so did Stark.

Ask the Parrot (Parker, book 23) by Richard Stark

And still other types sui generis to each. And as Lindahl drives Parker back to the house, he gets the rest of the story. Hit Fred very hard. Made him think about prison a lot. And maybe want to take his anger out on the same general type of person who corrupted his son. Now he understands better why Fred did what he did—and why talking to his wife about it may not be enough to keep him in one piece, mentally. And if he goes all to pieces….

The immediate problem is the racetrack. And now Tom, who was getting cold feet before Fred showed up, is telling Parker he definitely wants to do it. The encounter with Fred has reminded him how everyone there sees him—as a crazy old hermit, on his way to being like that guy dead by the railroad station. He rigs the door so that it still looks boarded up, but he can get in and out easily the old gag with the sawed-off nails that goes back to Jimmy the Kid. Give him a new identity, that would hold up to a cursory glance, nothing more.

Each man is a bit antsy about letting the other out of his sight that long, but if you gotta you gotta. While Tom is gone, Parker has visitors. The two brothers from earlier that day. Still giving him funny looks, like they know something. Like they want something. He was pretty wild before he lost his eye.

Ask the Parrot : A Parker Novel

He wants plastic surgery and a glass eye. He wants to look like Cory again, the calmer smarter brother—his twin. He wants that money. As they go, Parker tells Cal the opposite of brains to make sure nothing happens to his other eye. Frightened, ashamed, and enraged at Parker for making him feel that way, Cal asks him what about the eye he lost? I believe that constitutes the only instance where the title of a Stark novel is derived from a line of dialogue. Or vice-versa. Ask the author. Still plenty of time before Tom gets back. The town is really boring, as are most of its occupants, and the book is much too long.

I was actually happy when this ended, which is a shame. I love the Parker novels, at least the first dozen or so that I've listened to.

This one lost it, though. It was long, needlessly padded out with marginal motivations from many of the characters. There were sloppy logica I was actually happy when this ended, which is a shame. There were sloppy logical details. Electrical tape turns into duct tape a few pages further along.

I'd heard this wasn't as good as the early ones, but was surprised by how poorly it fared. Not a complete waste of time, but certainly a disappointment. Another download from the library.

KIRKUS REVIEW

Jun 20, Lynn rated it really liked it. Parker is a great bad guy. He's in a tough spot running from the law, but he knows how to keep his cool. Great story. Not as good as some of the others, but I still enjoy reading Parker. Parker is in the woods fleeing after a robbery. Tom wants Parker to help him rob a racetrack. Tom introduces Parker to other locals telling them Parker is a friend visiting.

Parker joins the locals as they hunt for Parker. Minor complaint. A security guard sees car lights at an unusual time. He goes to investigate, but the author did not tell what happened as he investigated. Or maybe I missed it. The narrator William Dufris was ok, but not good for this series. He made Parker sound too ordinary. These stories are about bad guys. They rob. They kill. Parker is the main bad guy, a brilliant strategist. He partners with different guys for different jobs in each book.

If you are new to the series, I suggest reading the first three and then choose among the rest. A few should be read in order since characters continue in a sequel fashion. Those are listed below with my star ratings. The rest can be read as stand alones. The first three books in order: 4 stars.

The Outfit. Read these two in order: 5 stars. Slayground Bk 14 5 stars. Unabridged audiobook length: 5 hrs and 53 mins. Swearing language: none. Sexual content: none. Setting: around New York. Book copyright: Genre: noir crime fiction. Aug 25, Mike rated it really liked it Recommends it for: Anyone.

I guess I liked it. Although Parker again goes to great lengths to avoid unnecessary killing and has a good explanations for this in multiple scenes , he quickly and efficiently wipes out those he must. He shows us a chilling calculus of who can live and who dies that makes him seem the Parker of old. I also liked how this book starts off with Parker in a major bind. The plot starts on high speed and stays on track throughout the story.

Like a great impresario, the author manages the reader by changes in pacing, plotting, and character relationships. I did not get the "wordy" sensation, although in hindsight there is a passage or two this is a shade long-winded. I thought that the book flowed very well and held my interest better than most. Granted it is written and sized to be a quick read, but I really surprised myself yesterday.

Taken by itself, this is one of the better action-driven, hardcase novels I have ever read. As part of this long-lived series, I think it stands out as a stellar offering. Remember we are talking fun here, not "literature". If you had to read only one Parker novel, this one will show you the consummate skill and style of Richard Stark Donald Westlake , but it will do very little to introduce you to Parker himself. I have a couple of earlier still from the 21st Century entrants to read in the next couple of weeks.

Apr 06, James Thane rated it really liked it. Parker is on the run from a failed bank job. The money is lost; one of his partners has been caught, and the other is on the run as well. Parker is fleeing up a hill, hoping to find some avenue of escape on the other side. The cops are right behind him and the hounds are baying at his heels. He finally reaches the top of the hill and finds a man with a rifle waiting for him Richard Stark's Parker series has always been one of my favorites and this was a good addition to it.

Like most of these Parker is on the run from a failed bank job. Like most of these books, this is a fairly quick read and very enjoyable. He felt burned out and a bit alienated from Parker, and wanted to work on other projects. It would be the last we would see of the coolly competent, implacable heist man for over twenty years.

Parker is entirely out of his element: on the run and without any of his usual accomplices, he finds himself in a small town in rural New York state. All his usual resources are out of reach, and in order to survive, he has to do the unthinkable: place his trust in one of the small-town nobodies to get out.

But the spirit of the age is present, and makes Parker and Westlake do some heavy lifting: there are automatic cameras, digital ID cards, and instant communications between law enforcement agencies to deal with. More than this, though, Westlake does a pretty amazing job of placing his story convincingly in the era of the severe national hangover of the late Bush years. The town of Pooley is very much like most of rural America in run down, decrepit, full of a graying population in the middle of realizing their American dream was not going to come true and ambitious young people trying to figure out angles to make up for its absence.

We run into hangdog characters embittered by layoffs, business failures, mass incarceration, and the Iraq War.

Still Running

But, surrounded not by greedy peers or hard-ass gangsters and lawmen, Parker finds something like mercy, if not actual pity, in his behavior towards so many people entirely out of their depth. Parker is the ultimate professional, functioning without emotion to do whatever is necessary to pull off a job with the highest reward for the lowest risk; Tom Lindahl is the ultimate amateur, overwhelmed with emotions he cannot fully understand or articulate, completely conflicted about everything including his own emotions.

The fact that the two of them find a way to work together is proof that even towards the end, neither Parker nor Westlake lost a step, and may have even been getting stronger. Richard Stark Donald Westlake should be studied at all writing schools. To write a Parker novel is more of a math problem than a series of moments inspired by passion.

The ultimate anti-hero, Parker represents a professional who will do what he has to do, to survive or excel in his line of the profession - which is being a professional criminal. Parker is in a pickle, somewhere in the backwaters of a small community, avoiding an arrest, he teams up with a hermit of sorts, who is still sore abo Richard Stark Donald Westlake should be studied at all writing schools. Parker is in a pickle, somewhere in the backwaters of a small community, avoiding an arrest, he teams up with a hermit of sorts, who is still sore about being fired from a horse racetrack.

Parker, who is quick with psychological profiles on everyone he comes upon, he acts on not emotion, but intellect. Stark is just as great as a writer as Patricia Highsmith, another narrative writer who plots with the skill of a surgeon under tense conditions. Recommending the best Richard Stark "Parker" novel is pointless. All are equally readable and addictive. The Parker series heads into uncharted almost YA territory in the simplistic and surprisingly two dimensional 'Ask The Parrot'.

Being a huge fan of Stark's thief amongst thieves, Parker, I was disappointed by this latest venture. Parker is on the run, his accomplices looks down and out and he's on his last legs - only to find a savior in the form of a disgruntled former race track employee who see Parker as an opportunity for payback. While I enjoyed some of the traditional man on the run elemen The Parker series heads into uncharted almost YA territory in the simplistic and surprisingly two dimensional 'Ask The Parrot'.

While I enjoyed some of the traditional man on the run elements hiding in broad daylight, mingling with those trying to capture him - for instance , the overall feel of the novel lacked the same rough edges I've grown accustomed too in the previous installments. Parker, himself comes off a little too nice despite some nice true-to-form acts - notably when someone ends up in the boot of a car and the more explicit scenes which were meant to be adult rated came off as little more than PG.

That being said, 'Ask The Parrot' is a very quick read with a day-time-movie feel about it which will leave fans scratching their head while others utterly entertained who are new to the popular thief - 2. Jan 07, Alecia rated it really liked it. It's always a good thing when I find a Parker novel I may have missed.

It's always a quick and very enjoyable read.

Publisher's Summary

In this one, Parker is on the run from a bank robbery, and is being chased by barking police dogs, when he is approached by a local stranger who takes him to his secluded home. And yes, in that home is a parrot who doesn't speak. What can I say, I'm a fan. Another strong outing from Stark, though I did find some of the subplots in the middle of the story to be somewhat unnecessary and felt to some degree as filler.

But as it's not a particularly long story even with these additional subplots, it didn't do much to dull my enjoyment. Ask the parrot, why don'tcha! Possibly the Parker book with the strangest title, this novel is nonetheless just as well-written as any other in the series.

The suspense level is high and constant throughout the book. Parker is on the run, hiding from the law following the events of Nobody Runs Forever , there are roadblocks all over, sheets bearing his likeness or an artist' s rendition of it are distributed to anyone and everyone, and yet here is Parker, cool as a cucumber. He even joins a sear Ask the parrot, why don'tcha! He even joins a search party to find the missing bank robbers! I tell you, the balls on that guy. Part Three, Chapter Eight is a nice change of perspective, as Stark describes things from the titular parrot's point of view, and it's actually quite funny.

Out of left field? Maybe, but a pleasant break from the pervading suspense. The three-part story concludes in the next - and last! I want to read the end of the story, but I don't want this series to end! This story focuses on the trail of a bank robber on the run. One of his accomplises gets caught spending the new marked bills they stole and Parker gives up on the idea of getting his share of the stolen money. He runs into the barrel of another man's gun while fleeing the search dogs. The other man, Lindahl, has his own robbery plans which are based on revenge.

Seeing Parker as an experienced bank robber, Lindahl talks him into helping pull off his own heist.