Marty Fusco just got out of the clink and here he is cooking up another heist. Well, birds gotta fly, fish gotta swim, and Fusco's thinking this deal is pretty sweet. His neurotic ex-wife has gotten cozy with a young airman named Devers who works in the finance office of the USAF base where he's posted. Fusco and Devers think they can lift the entire base's payroll for the month, at least four hundred thousand dollars. But they need a guy that can work out all the angles and run things. This is where Parker comes in. He's getting tired of working on his tan and chilling with his girl Claire in Puerto Rico and is again feeling the itch to work, so he packs a bag and joins Fusco and Devers in upstate New York. The thing is, Fusco's aforementioned neurotic ex-wife, Ellen, is about to turn this cool caper into a hot mess.The Green Eagle Score
is yet another example of "Stark's"/Westlake's mastery of his craft. Coming in at a lean, mean 173 pages, Westlake doesn't fool around. It's almost as if Westlake's laconic criminal Parker was the one who wrote this. Like the other Parker novels (the ones I have read), The Green Eagle Score
follows a four-act format and is ideal study material for budding novelists learning how to structure and pace a novel. Hell, it's ideal study material for any
novelist on how to structure and pace a novel. I'd say a lot of modern-day "bestsellers" could learn a thing or two.
Though it would seem otherwise, Parker as a character never gets boring. He doesn't smile, doesn't joke, has no real hobbies or interests…he's basically a larcenous golem. The only time I recall seeing any sort of strong emotion from Parker was way back in the first novel, The Hunter
, and that was white-hot rage. But don't think for a second that Westlake is skimping with two-dimensional characterization. No, Westlake's characterization of Parker is subtle. In the hands of lesser authors Parker would seem to be a cardboard cutout, a genre cliché. In Westlake's hands, Parker's a force of nature (I love how he "checks" a guy to see if he's alive or dead. Spoiler: he's dead
). But, as in other Parker novels, the lively supporting cast contributes a lot to feel of the book and makes for a fun contrast to Parker's stoicism.
What else can I say? The Green Eagle Score
is another great Parker novel. If you haven't read a Parker yet, you're in for a treat. If you have, you know what you're getting and won't be disappointed.
(For Westlake fans and people more knowledgeable about him than I am, I have a question. I noticed several British spellings ("defence," "licence," "neighborhood"), but as I understand it, Westlake was American. Was this just a stylistic choice? Did he use it exclusively for his pseudonym "Richard Stark?" Just something I was wondering about.)