Saturday, January 14, 2006

Read: "The Blackbird" by Richard Stark

The Blackbird by Richard Stark

Richard Stark is Donald Westlake. He started writing the Parker novels in '62 with The Hunter. The Parker novels were successfull and had several film adaptations made from them.

Blackbird is a Grofield novel. The Grofield novels are a "spin-off" of the Parker novels. Grofiled is an occasional heist partner with Parker. Where Parker is a sociopathic robber, Grofield is a borderline sociopath with a sense of humour. There was a Parker hiatus from '74 to '98 but the last Grofield novel was in '71.

Blackbird starts with Grofield, Parker, and a driver robbing an armored car and then crashing their own car during the getaway. Grofield awakes in a hospital to receive an offer from some shadowy Feds to let him off the hook if he does some spy work. Grofield ends up in Quebec City to spy on some Third World dictators - meeting in secret - whom he once ran across on a previous heist. Grofield cannot get away from the Feds and their electronic bugs and he doesn't want to get killed as a spy.

This was a good Stark novel. Typically succinct and to the point without a lot of blather by the narrator. The 1969 setting and - more importantly - writing are interesting. The fact that the term "Third World" has to be explained by a character makes me assume the term was pretty new or unknown. The way that comments and assumptions are made about a black chick and white dude together socially are interesting. With Albanians, Chinese, Russians, South Americans, Africans and other unsavory political types fighting it out in the north woods of Canada.

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