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The Dame: An Alan Grofield Novel [Paperback]

Richard Stark , Sarah Weinman

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Book Description

April 15 2012

Donald E. Westlake is one of the greats of crime fiction. Under the pseudonym Richard Stark, he wrote twenty-four fast-paced, hardboiled novels featuring Parker, a shrewd career criminal with a talent for heists. Using the same nom de plume, Westlake also completed a separate series in the Parker universe, starring Alan Grofield, an occasional colleague of Parker. While he shares events and characters with several Parker novels, Grofield is less calculating and more hot-blooded than Parker; think fewer guns, more dames.

Not that there isn’t violence and adventure aplenty. . The Dame finds Grofield in Puerto Rico protecting a rich, demanding woman in her isolated jungle villa, and reluctantly assuming the role of detective. A rare Westlake take on a whodunit, The Dame features a cast of colorful characters and a suspenseful—and memorable—climax.

With a new foreword by Sarah Weinman that situates the Grofield series within Westlake’s work as a whole, this novel is an exciting addition to any crime fiction fan’s library.

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The Dame: An Alan Grofield Novel + The Blackbird: An Alan Grofield Novel + The Damsel: An Alan Grofield Novel
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 198 pages
  • Publisher: University Of Chicago Press (April 15 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226770397
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226770390
  • Product Dimensions: 20.1 x 13.2 x 1.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 222 g

Product Description

About the Author

Richard Stark was one of the many pseudonyms of Donald E. Westlake (1933–2008), a prolific author of crime fiction. In 1993, the Mystery Writers of America bestowed the society’s highest honor on Westlake, naming him a Grand Master.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.6 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars In between the Parker books and Westlake' s comic capers April 28 2013
By H. Carter - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The Grofield books are a lot lighter than those featuring his sometimes partner Parker. While Grofield can take action as needed (witness his encounters with bodyguard Harry in this book) he is light on his feet when faced with the unexpected. He is an actor, so I suppose that I part of it. He is also much more of a ladies man.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Lacklustre Second Effort in the Alan Grofield Four Book Series Without Parker Feb. 20 2013
By James N Simpson - Published on
The Dame takes up where the first book in the series The Damsel ended. You don't need to have read that to understand what is going on in the pages of this one but it does give away that book's basic plot as well as how that one ends in the initial pages. The Damsel is a much better book than The Dame so I'd highly recommend reading that one first.

Alan Grofield is a minor character in a number of the Parker series novels, without Parker he can carry his own but in the Dame he did struggle to keep the pages interesting. In the former The Damsel he shared the pages with an intelligent female character called Elly, who gave as good as she got, there's no one in The Dame to provide anything like that. There is one female character that he spends some time with at one stage but she's so unrealistic in her needing a man to save the day persona, that as a reader you don't really care for her at all. This character also highlighted that The Dame was originally published in 1969 to me constantly as I turned the pages. The ending without giving it away is also pretty weak, it's like Westlake (a.k.a Stark) couldn't think of how to wrap things up but had a deadline to meet or a more interesting novel to write he wanted to move onto.

The basic scenario for The Dame has Grofield flying into Puerto Rico simply because he got a mysterious note to do so. This flies in the face of how he normally selects the times he ventures into the risky criminal world, as he also doesn't need the money. Nothing goes smoothly, he's roughed up, he's victimised and his would be employer isn't telling him the full story so he declines her offer. Problem for Grofield is early the next morning she's found dead. Of course he's the number one suspect and her mafia type husband wants to take out his vengeance on the killer. If Grofield can't work out then convince the man it was one of the few other people in the house, he won't be leaving Puerto Rico alive.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Grofield branches out Nov. 5 2012
By John Vogel - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Grofield is a character to come out of the Parker novels. Grofield is an actor who can't make a living acting on stage and so commits an act of larceny once or twice a year to keep his theater open.
Grofield is on his way home with the results of a job when he gets word from an acquaintance that there is work for him in Puerto Rico. It comes with a plane ticket and so he decides to give it a try.
Normally he'd dealing with professionals. In The Dame, he's dealing with people who are totally out of that realm and of course things go wrong right away.
He ends up conducting a kind of grand jury to see if he can convince a grieving husband he's not the killer of his wife.
Grofield is reactive through much of the book, which isn't his best look. It's a solid book, where the Donald Westlake humor insinuates its way into the Richard Stark dark serious world.
4.0 out of 5 stars plenty of fun Aug. 2 2013
By Ray Garraty - Published on
Alan Grofield, an actor, a professional thief, and - sometimes - a partner of Parker, arrives in Puerto Rico to provide a certain service as a favor to a recent acquaintance. Grofield rents a car and follows the instructions on a piece of paper traveling to a remote ranch where Grofield meets surly middle-aged woman keeping a secret, why would she need a holder of certain skills as Grofield. The thief is not going to play the game: he leaves to go back to the airport, but after meeting with several mobsters returns to the inhospitable hostess, threatening her with a pistol, demanding from her to tell what's going on. The lady says that Grofield's services are no longer needed, and promises to send him back in the morning. But by the morning the lady is dead, and then there is her husband, mobster, with the conviction that his favorite, but soon-to-be ex-wife has been killed by Grofield. The actor and the thief would have to convince the angry husband that the lady was not killed by him, but one of her guests.

The Dame was written under the pseudonym Richard Stark, although Westlake could easily put his own name on the cover. It was enough to give the hero a new name instead of Grofield, throw away anything that links books about Grofield with books about Parker. As a result, The Dame is what would happen if you connect Westlake's hard-boiled early novels with his later humorous books. Grofield here is a kind of Poirot with thieving propensities (I wanted to write - with a criminal record, but Grofield has never been caught by the police), and a developed sense of humor.

The tone of the novel is very lightweight and a little reminiscent of the style of the Parker novels, even the familiar four-part structure of the novel is broken. The book is written without dividing into parts, and the plot is a straight line, without the usual Parker's flashbacks and changes of perspective.

Compared with the Parker novels, this is not entirely successful. But Westlake did not write bad books, so The Dame is plenty of fun, after all.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Vintage Richard Stark/Donald Westlake May 25 2012
By Jeff - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Donald Westalke wrote almost two dozen novels about an amoral thief named Parker who leads a small rotating gang of criminal on various heists under the name Richard Stark. One of those rotating criminals in the actor/criminal Alan Grofield, and Stark has written four books featuring Grofield.

The Dame has Grofield being hired to guard a wealthy woman at her home in Puerto Rico. As usual with any Stark novel, the minute the action starts, the plan of battle is worthless, and Grofield is forced to play detective in order to solve a murder, for which he is the prime suspect. That's a bit unusual as Westlake most wrote crime thrillers or crime comedies, but seldom whodunits.

There's a great deal of action, a splash of romance, and some great descriptions of Puerto Rico. The end is satisfying and Grofield is cleared for more action. As usual, the writing and dialogue are just tremendous.

I'm more a fan of the Parker books, each of which is a gem. But if you've finished them and want a bit more, these books are worth a shot. Be sure to read them in order as spoilers about the previous books abound.

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