Today’s best thriller writers on one hundred classics of the genre…
My goal is to eventually make my way through all of these must-read titles. These books have been around for so long and read by so many that another generic review from your average reader seems unnecessary. Instead, I thought it would be fun to take a look at what some of the experts have to say about the stories that paved the way for their own success… and how their perspective compares to my own reading experience. Today, I’m looking at Richard Stark’s The Hunter.
She shot him just above the belt and left him for dead. Then they torched the house, with Parker in it, and took the money he had helped them steal. It all went down just the way they’d planned, except for one thing: Parker didn’t die.
Duane Swierczynski credits Donald Westlake (the writer behind pseudonym Richard Stark) with being a major influence in his own writing, as well as countless other “tough guy” novels. “Richard Stark infused the crime genre with fresh, cold blood. He made it okay to root for the bad guy.”
I’ve read books and watched movies in which I do root for the bad guy, but this novel wasn’t one of them.
Parker’s story is an interesting one; he’s the classic character with nothing left to lose. But I didn’t like him. And, unlike some other unlikable characters, he wasn’t all that fun to read about. I didn’t care what happened to him. I didn’t care what happened to anyone else. I just didn’t care.
One thing that put me off, and I have to wonder how much of an impact this really had on my lack of enjoyment, was the extreme objectification of the few women in the story. There was only one who wasn’t a prostitute, and the way the other characters treated her, she might as well have been. I’m usually pretty forgiving of stuff like that, if it feels true to the era or the characters… in this case a bit of both.
Which leaves me wondering, is this one thing the reason I didn’t like the book? No, I don’t think so… I think it’s just the one that’s easiest to pinpoint.
For years I’ve been hearing nothing but praise from readers who love the Parker series. But it’s just not for me.
Seven down, ninety-three to go…