By the time Richard Stark sat down to write "Deadly Edge" in 1971, he'd been chronicling the adventures of his antihero, Parker, for nearly a decade. But it turns out he was just warming up: the next three "Parker" novels would see Stark crank everything up a notch - tightening the writing, heightening the violence, and, most of all, hardening the deadly heister at the books' heart. "Deadly Edge" kicks things off by bidding a brutal adieu to the 1960s: Parker robs a rock concert, but the heist goes sour, and he finds himself - and his woman, Claire - menaced by a pair of sadistic, drug-crazed hippies. Slayground turns the hunter into prey, as Parker gets trapped in a shuttered amusement park, besieged by a bevy of local mobsters. He's low on bullets - but, as anyone who's crossed his path knows, that definitely doesn't mean he's defenseless. Finally, in Plunder Squad, job after job disintegrates into failure and violence, and a rare act of mercy from earlier in the series comes back to bite Parker - hard. These books by Stark reveal a master craftsman working at the height of his powers, and they deserve a place on the bookshelf of every fan of crime fiction.
Richard Stark was one of the many pseudonyms of Donald E. Westlake (1933-2008), a prolific author of noir crime fiction. In 1993, the Mystery Writers of America bestowed the society's highest honor on Westlake, naming him a Grand Master.