Tuesday, September 22, 2015


After watching THE SPLIT (1968) a while back, I decided to read the novel the film was based on. THE SEVENTH, by Richard Stark (Donald Westlake) is, appropriately, the seventh novel in Stark's series of novels about master thief Parker. The book was originally published in 1966. The edition I read, pictured above, was published in March, 1985. I bought it when it came out and it's been sitting on my shelves, unread, ever since. Until now.

As always, the book is better than the film, although, to be fair the film was good, just vastly different from the book. The book opens with the murder of  Ellie, a girl Parker has shacked up with after the big football stadium heist. Parker finds her dead and all of the money from the robbery missing, along with several guns used in the crime. The actual heist itself is told in a one-chapter flashback. The real story concerns Parkers' efforts to find the mysterious killer who ran a sword through Ellie, stole the money and guns and has attempted to kill Parker several times.

Parker's crew numbers seven as opposed to the five men in the film. The killer isn't a landlord (he's an ex-boyfriend). Parker and police detective Dougherty share information but Dougherty isn't corrupt and doesn't end up with the money as happened in the film.

Instead, Stark tells a taut, tight, bullet swift tale of crooks falling out, with an ever increasing body count. Parker just wants his money back and nothing will stop him from recovering it. He's an implacable force of doom for any and all who stand in his way. There's a terrific climax in an under construction office building and a nice little stinger at the end.

If you've yet to experience the pure, adrenaline fueled rush of a Parker novel, you're missing something. These books are terrific. Parker is an unforgettable character and Stark never fails to come up with ingenious plots that pit Parker against multiple obstacles that must be overcome. Two big thumbs up.

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