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Phoenix (The Complete Action Series)
David Alexander
Progress: 60 %
The Score (Parker, #5) - Richard Stark Parker, bored with hanging around at the beach, decides to check out  another larcenous job opportunity, but there's something hinky about the guy organizing the whole thing. Against his better judgement, Parker deals in because the payoff could be big. This time Parker and the gang knock off a whole town! But you know what happens when things seem to go too smoothly...

I've read Parker #1, #3 and now #5. You'd think I was hitting all the odd ones first. Nah. That's just what my local library has readily available without placing a reservation for a specific copy. Doesn't matter, though. I'll catch up on them all, but I am really digging this series now and even get a real sense of continuity, even though I skipped a couple. Salsa, whom I last saw in The Outfit (and for some reason I imagine as looking like Henry Silva) is in on this job. Handy, also appearing in The Outfit has a brief mention. So I am getting the sense of continuity and world-building that makes me feel very comfortable and looking forward to each next volume.  Other new-to-me characters are introduced as well, each with a distinct and amusing personality.

Stark's (Westlake's) writing is as crisp as a freshly printed hundred-dollar bill, making these novel eminently readable. Like Parker himself, there is nothing unnecessary or extraneous. This is something of a rarity, I find, among many of the novels of today that are often five or six-hundred pages long. I sometimes wonder if the art of economical language has been lost.  

And Parker, of course, is a great character. He is completely, uncompromisingly amoral; the epitome of the practical man. There was a moment when I thought Parker was getting a little soft, but later learned that he was just being practical. While he is goal-oriented when a job is on, afterward he's sexually ravenous and never seems to have any trouble finding someone to release some tension with. He is totally independent, outside the system. No ties, no obligations. It occurred to me that this is perfect material for my mid-life crisis. I don't have enough money to buy a red sports car. I'm not successful enough to mess around with an age-inappropriate girlfriend. I don't need a toupee (yet). If one is going to hit a mid-life crisis one could certainly do worse than a Parker novel.