The Hot Rock started me on the Westlake road, and I've never looked back. The plotting is meticulous, the characterization is smooth, and -- what has captured me for over 30 years -- the setting is enveloping. I can still feel that damp heatless trailer in the rain, feel the impatience of the card playing colleagues as they wait for results, and long for hot coffee.
Since The Hot Rock I've read every Westlake I could get my hands on; I've never been disappointed. And Westlake as Richard Stark is equally good, if decidedly more frightening. This man can WRITE!