Firebreak, Richard Stark (aka Donald Westlake) 2001

Parker is back and the new caper is ingenious, complex, and beset by difficulties.  As usual, Parker (we never do learn his first name, though for the first time, there’s a reasonable description of him as follows: “She’d seen that face before, bony, large, the eyes cold and uninterested, the jawline like a rock.”) is sitting quietly at home with Claire at their home on a lake in upstate NY when the phone rings and a former ‘associate’ calls with a proposal.  This one is a beaut, involving a trove of old Masters’ paintings in a hidden underground vault in Montana near the border with Canada.  The bodies begin to pile up as Parker in his usual cold, calculating, and very effective way adapts to the shifting ground.  There are a few side stories which end up with dead bodies, but the primary caper is a good story and another fine contribution to the Parker ouevre.

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