The return of the Parker novels

August 13, 2008
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Donald E. Westlake (aka Richard Stark) published The Hunter, the first book in his long-running series about the master thief Parker, in 1962. Since then The Hunter has been adapted for film twice and become a classic amongst fans of hard boiled noir. But until recently the book has been neglected by publishing houses, going in and out of print, while used copies fetched high prices. Now, the Press has brought the Parker novels back to life with the republication of the first three books in the series including, The Hunter, The Man with the Getaway Face, and The Outfit—and word is getting out. Recently the Independent Crime blog posted about the books’ resurgence, hailing Westlake as “one of the best crime writers to ever put pen to paper, and… [maybe] one of the best writers of the last century period.” The post continues:

It’s a long way from the paperback racks in drugstores to the world of academic presses, and U of C Press’ decision to pick up Westlake’s series certainly goes a long way toward validating the opinion of many that Westlake, with his Parker novels, has earned a place in hard boiled fiction up there with Hammett or Chandler, both of whom have been considered worthy of academic attention for some time.

More recently drama and literary critic Terry Teachout also praised the press’s re-issue of Westlake’s novels on Commentary magazine’s Contentions blog, writing:

I’m delighted to advise readers in need of tough-minded vacation fare that… the first three [Parker] volumes are now available.… The Hunter, The Man with the Getaway Face, and The Outfit are handsomely designed, tightly bound trade-paperback volumes that have been freshly set from new type rather than reprinted from older editions. All of this strongly suggests that the University of Chicago Press is in it for the long haul, which is a good thing, since the uniform Parker is a multi-year project whose subsequent installments are to be published at unspecified intervals. Be patient.

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