The Hunter, Richard Stark (aka Donald Westlake) 1962
The first book of the 24 Parker novels by Richard Stark, aka Donald Westlake, a Grand Master of the American Mystery Writers Association. The book is much more ala Raymond Chandler’s noir style, with lots of gangsters (The Outfit), whores, and cops in NYC and Chicago. We learn Parker’s back story as he hunts down his wife and the gangster who double crossed him on an arms deal. There’s lots of murders, but they’re not weird and sick like in Jo Nesbo, just good old shootings, throat cuttings, and stranglings. Parker is tough, smart, and fearless, and one learns to like him over the course of the caper and follow up murders. Very different style from the later Parker books but shows the great promise of things to come. Three books into the series, I’m going to enjoy the rest of them!