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Free e-book: Richard Stark's 'The Score'

September 6, 2011 | 12:53 pm

Richardstark_thescore The University of Chicago Press thinks that once readers try Richard Stark, they'll come back for more. That's why the publisher, which reissued "The Score" in 2009, is giving away the e-book for free. It trusts that one Parker novel just won't be enough.

 "The Score" is the fifth novel featuring Parker, a "lean and mean anti-hero," Richard Rayner wrote in The Times. The first 20 Parker books have been reissued by the University of Chicago Press. This month, while "The Score" is free, the publisher's other Parker novels are 30% off with a special checkout code. 

Stark was one of the pseudonyms of Donald Westlake, an author so prolific that he published under several names. He wrote as Stark, Tucker Coe, Samuel Holt, Edwin West and Donald E. Westlake. He died in 2008 on New Year's Eve.

Rayner, who was a fan of the Parker novels, reviewed "The Score" in 2009.

"Knock over a city. A whole . . . city," thinks super thief Parker at the beginning of this crime novel. "It was stupid it might even work. But it would have to be planned right. This one would have to be planned right on down to the shoe leather." So Parker and his crew head off to a North Dakota town called Copper Canyon, where, of course, things very much don't go according to plan. Richard Stark, a.k.a. Donald Westlake (who, sadly, died a few months back -- but what a run!), wrote hardboiled stories that unfold with magical flair. Also reissued, in this superb continuing series from the University of Chicago, are "The Mourner" and "The Jugger."

In his introduction to the Parker series reissue, Luc Sante wrote, "You can read the entire series and not once have to invest in a bookmark." So, if you download the free e-book, be warned: Parker can be habit-forming.

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-- Carolyn Kellogg

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