Flashfire by Richard Stark
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
When you ask Parker for a loan you’d better make sure that he agrees with the terms or else he’ll really make you pay.
It’s not unusual for Parker’s accomplices to try to rip him off after they pull a robbery, but this one plays out differently from the typical stab in the back. Instead of just trying to kill him and take all the loot these guys first try to talk Parker into coming in with them and using all the money they just stole to finance their next job which they claim will be a highly lucrative jewel heist in Palm Beach. It’s only when Parker refuses and demands his cut that these guys reluctantly take all the money, but they promise that it’s only a loan which they will repay as soon as they complete this other robbery. It’s all very civilized as far as ripping off a partner goes, but of course they didn’t realize that they’re messing with the wrong guy. Parker promptly starts building a fake identity as a rich guy looking to buy a house in Palm Beach as part of his revenge scheme. He’s got a solid plan, but as usual things never run smoothly for Parker.
A plot about Parker being betrayed by his partners and setting out to get his money back is pretty standard for the series, and it’s all done as well as you’d expect from Richard Stark (a/k/a Donald Westlake). As a Parker novel this is a solid 3 stars, but there’s two things that I found absolutely delightful in this book.
First, Parker’s share of the original score is $20,000. He doesn’t want to throw in with the jewel heist and potentially make a lot more because he doesn’t like about the plan. After the other thieves take the money Parker then goes on a crime spree to build up the funds he’ll need to establish a whole new identity as a rich man. During this he probably makes well over $200,000 in a string of quick robberies. The fact that he is so peeved about losing 20 grand that he makes over 10 times that amount without breaking a sweat and still feels the need to use it to go after the guys who ripped him off rather than just take that money and call it a day is quintessential Parker, and I love it.
The second thing that I gave this one bonus points for is a scene that occurs while Parker is playing the part of a wealthy man looking to buy a house, and he has a real estate lady showing him around Palm Beach. This woman talks a ton of trash about a certain orange shitbag buying an estate there including this gem: "I think a place must be a little déclassé if Donald Trump has even heard of it."
Donald Westlake was so cool he can throw shade from beyond the grave.
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