Commentary, Fiction

Life imitates Stark

jacket imageIn a plot straight out of one of Richard Stark’s Parker novels, an ingenious thief in Washington made his getaway in an inner tube, of all things, and had the help of a dozen hired lookalikes—who didn’t suspect a thing. But where does a thief go to find partners in crime these days? Craigslist, of course! How things have changed since Parker got his start. As TV station KING 5 in Seattle reports:

“I came across the ad that was for a prevailing wage job for $28.50 an hour,” said Mike [Ruth], who saw a Craigslist ad last week looking for workers for a road maintenance project in Monroe.
He said he inquired and was e-mailed back with instructions to meet near the Bank of America in Monroe at 11 a.m. Tuesday. He also was told to wear certain work clothing.
“Yellow vest, safety goggles, a respirator mask … and, if possible, a blue shirt,” he said.
Mike showed up along with about a dozen other men dressed like him, but there was no contractor and no road work to be done. He thought they had been stood up until he heard about the bank robbery and the suspect who wore the same attire.
From there, the crook made his watery escape in a creek that dumps out into the Skykomish River. One witness said the robber swam away, but another said he used an inner tube to get away.
“We did get an inner tube that was about 200 yards from the place where he entered the water and took that for evidence,” said Debbie Willis, Monroe Police.

When asked to comment on the success of the heist, Donald Westlake (aka Richard Stark) had this to say: “That’s exactly how I told him to do it, except I wanted him to find a motorized rubber raft, you know, a Zodiac. And this isn’t really very good reporting; if we’re not told how much he got away with, how do I know how to figure my cut? Standards are slipping everywhere.”
Indeed they are, Mr. Westlake. It remains to be seen if Craigslist will make an appearance in future installments of the Parker series. The bandit, like Parker, is still at large.
Before plotting your next heist, check out more about the University of Chicago Press editions of the Parker novels and read an interview with their creator.