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Breakout [Paperback]

Richard Stark
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Nov. 1 2003 Parker Novels
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...

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From Amazon

Tired of do-gooder heroes saving the day? Meet Parker--just Parker to you, bub--a one-man wrecking crew, cunning, fearless, and more than just a little cold-blooded. Writing again under hard-boiled alter-ego Richard Stark, Mystery Writers of America Grand Master Donald E. Westlake returns to the violent world of his legendary criminal creation with Breakout.

This time around Parker has picked certain members of his crew wrong and the job goes south right into the county lockup. Alone and isolated, the antihero finds himself without much wiggle room. But experienced Stark readers know, wiggling is what the slippery Parker does best. In Breakout, he wiggles himself out of jail and right into an even more dangerous situation involving an armory, a tunnel, and a jewelry wholesaler.

While there are rough spots here and there, Breakout is simply another fun-to-read Parker novel, taking readers again to the flip side where the bad guys win and the good guys are never as good as they should be. Call it a great escape because, with this Parker novel in particular, that's just what it is. --Jeremy Pugh --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From 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.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars The Bad Guy is Saved for the Next Book April 23 2003
At Stoneveldt Detention Center, Parker - who is the good bad guy of this book - collects buddies to breaK out. Primarily, there is Ed Markey, whose girl friend Brenda helps from the outside. There is Brando Williams, a person of color. And so on. After a cold-blooded murder, they manage to break out.
The scene now shifts to the plan of breaking into a jewelry wholesale store, located in a super solid armory. The way in is through an old abandoned tunnel nobody knows about except the bad guys. The center of the tunnel had partially collapsed, though, and they have to dig their way through. They get to the jewelry store and load up on the expensive stuff. On the way back, the tunnel collapses on some of the bad guys . One must assume they got killed, but no time or verbiage is lost on that. Because the advance was so narrow, they left behind the sacks of loot. and backed out of the tunnel. They left behind all the jewelry. Why?? It takes another 100 pages or so to get them out of the armory and the mess as such.
The action taking place in the mid-west, it is interesting to speculate why Williams is so afraid of his white companions. This item is played over and over again. And there is the owner of a dance school, where Brenda signs up - and the owner immediately knows that all her ID papers were forged. How did she manage that?
I can understand some modicum of sympathy with a thief who gets away with it. But certainly not with a cold-blooded murder who does not even check if his friends are still alive. But that is one of the reasons why this is not a great book. The characters are one-dimensional and do not invite the reader to take sides. It has some nice ideas, but the execution is rather pedestrian, if not to say sloppy.
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5.0 out of 5 stars As Good As It Gets Dec 30 2002
It goes without saying that a Richard Stark "Parker" story is read at one sitting. Fortunately for the reader (or the sittee, if you will), the books are rarely longer than 300 pages. It's manageable. The writing is as spare and smooth as fine leather holster and concise as a Hemingway vignette.
Parker gets nailed in a pharmaceutical robbery gone south. He is detained by the law in a fortress like detention center situated in the flatlands. This is desperate times for Parker who has escaped from a prison in the distant past and killed a guard in the process. He must escape and does in most ingenious manner. He is coerced (against his better judgment) into a jewelry heist that involves tunneling into an impregnable armory. It is all in the finely engineered details that enchant us. How they get in. More important, how they get out. It isn't Parker's lucky day. He has to get another confederate out of jail. Surprising to me, Parker and crew take some hostages. (I'm surprised because I think of Parker as a "take no prisoners" type.) By this time, Parker has been trapped so many times through no fault of his own, all he wants is to get back to Jersey in one piece. Will he make it? Of course he will.
People always wonder why they have this fondness for Parker, a cold-blooded outlaw with no remorse and no friends, only "associates." For me it's easy. I feel safe with Parker. Wherever he goes, he has to take me, the reader, and he will think for both of us. "Breakout" is fine vintage Parker and even goes a tad beyond his usual high standards.
-sweetmolly-Amazon Reviewer
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Breakout is the latest in the Parker series of noir thrillers. Written by Donald Westlake (under the appropriate penname of Richard Stark) is great fun to read about although you would never want to meet him in real life. Parker comes close to being a sociopath. He has completely no conscience; when in Breakout he decides to help a long term associate get his girl friend out of prison, it is because he decides that it is in his long-term interest; it does not matter to him that his associate (I can't call him a friend because Parker has no friends) helped break Parker out of jail earlier in the book. He has no problem about killing someone who is an obstacle to his plans. However, he is completely rational; he would never kill someone for no reason, nor does he seem to derive any pleasure from killing any more than he derives any guilt.
It's interesting to speculate why we enjoy such a character. Probably it because we all like to imagine indulging our wishes without any care of what society would think, or any obedience of moral rules. This what Parker does.
Breakout, as pointed out by several other reviewers, is close to a book in one of Westlake's other series. Parker's presence, however, makes it distinctive. Here, he must break out of a jail, and then into a jewelry store. He has far more than his normal share of bad luck, but through his intelligence, and ruthlessness, remains free for another book in the series.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Parker, the King of the Breakout. Dec 16 2002
As a fan of mystery/suspense/hardboiled noir, I am uncertain how I've missed Richard Stark (a/k/a Don Westlake). In an event, BREAKOUT was my first Stark novel and as any noir fan will attest, Stark does it quite well. While fans of noir will envision no-nonsense, pushing-the-line yet "good" heros, Stark throws us a curve. The twist? Our hero(?), Parker, is as bad as they come...truly an anti-hero. If one can't get one's mind around a bad guy being depicted in a "good" light, move on.
The reader is introduced to Parker's lastest escapade, a "foolproof" robbery gone bad. As a result, Parker is transported to a large, nondescript, "inescapable" Midwestern holding prison. Parker being Parker, his immediate task is to figure a way out of the colossus, which has never yielded an escape. Parker sets out to find a trustworthy crew within the confines of a prison of untrustworthies, no small task to be sure.
Stark lays out the plan of escape with enough detail, the reader will feel as those he is a part of this crew. With little fanfare, the crew is successful in their escape. In exchange for the participation of one of the crew in their daring escape, Parker has agreed to participate in the robbery of a local jewelry wholesaler. This, ostensibly, will provide each of the robbery crew with enough to disappear comfortably. The jewlery store is located in an old, restored armory creating a challenge of monumental proportions. A challenge Parker loathes; one providing him with an extremely uneasy feeling.
As Parker's trick knee predicted, disaster befalls the robbery crew. As the robbery disintegrates, the reader is introduced to Parker's psyche, a dark, lonely tomb with stoic albeit brilliant insights.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars A Fun Read
That's all I have to say about it.....It was a fun read. Make it a beach or picnic book.
Published on March 15 2004 by D. A KENNEDY
4.0 out of 5 stars Brief but compelling. Great fun.
Parker, the antihero thief of Richard Stark (AKA Donald Westlake) is one of my favorite creations. The books are always written with one caper or problem to be solved. Read more
Published on March 2 2004 by Larry
4.0 out of 5 stars First stark work Ive read truly Captavating
Look forward to reading all of Starks novels after reading this one The impressions and swift moving plots put you write there in the action Thank god for writers like Stark
Published on June 14 2003 by Tom Ryasko
4.0 out of 5 stars Lots of breakouts, actually
After an inconvenient arrest, master thief Parker and his felonious associates spend a bunch of pages trying to break out of a big holding facility where they're awaiting trial;... Read more
Published on Jan. 7 2003 by Joseph P. Menta, Jr.
5.0 out of 5 stars Taut Plot, Quick Read
The latest Parker book by Richard Stark (Donald Westlake) is a series of breakouts and breakins. A bumbled robbery lands Parker in custody, but not for long. Read more
Published on Dec 27 2002 by A. M. Sulkin
5.0 out of 5 stars It doesn't get better...
This is certainly one of the strongest entries in this fantastic series. Westlake/Stark is at the top of his form here. One of his most satisfying novels since Drowned Hopes.
Published on Dec 17 2002 by Scott Bukatman
5.0 out of 5 stars Stark's cold rhythm is back
A great addition the series...Stark is back in full form.
Published on Dec 17 2002 by Scott Rees Lloyd
4.0 out of 5 stars Stark delivers another fine Parker novel
Donald Westlake(aka Richard Stark) delivers the goods with another entry in the Parker series. Parker is like a human version of the Terminator. Read more
Published on Dec 16 2002 by "whitetrashmutant"
4.0 out of 5 stars Another winner from the King of Noir
When a hot-dogging associate causes Parker's arrest, things look bad for the old heister. He finds himself in prison with virtually no chance of release. Read more
Published on Dec 11 2002 by David Montgomery
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