The Hunter (1962) by Richard Stark

The Hunter (1962) by Richard Stark aka Donald Westlake , 1st ed. by Perma Books
The Hunter (1962) by Richard Stark aka Donald Westlake , 1st ed. by Perma Books

“The Hunter” by Richard Stark aka Donald Westlake (1933 to 2008) is a crime novel originally published in 1962 and is known as “Point Blank” and “Payback.”  This is the first book in the Parker series and there are a total of 24 novels excluding the ones featuring Parker and Grofield (another thief with a passion for the stage). The book has been adapted to film twice.

Parker is a professional thief who does serious scores. He’s no petty thief. He does payroll jobs, bank jobs and armored cars. He’s been doing heist like this for 18 years and has never been caught. It’s said that the police don’t even know who he is. In “The Hunter,” Parker is betrayed and he goes on the hunt. He’s ruthless and determined and will stop at nothing to find the people who shot him and left him for dead. They all think he’s dead but Parker is back and in a furious rage to find the people who double crossed him. (more)

Blood on Snow by Jo Nesbø tr. Neil Smith

Blood on Snow (2015) is a quick, fast paced noir novel written by Jo Nesbo tr. Neil Smith
Blood on Snow (2015) is a quick, fast paced noir novel written by Jo Nesbo tr. Neil Smith

Blood on Snow” (2015) by Jo Nesbo tr. Neil Smith has to be the shortest book I’ve ever read by this author. Also, I see why at one time he wanted or someone wanted him to use a pen name for it, too, because it’s dark. Darker than anything he’s ever written. It’s pure noir and a standalone crime story. The first person narrator and hitman , Olav Johansen, takes readers into the dark alleys of Norwegian crime. Note: this post is longer than it should be. Really.

This great George Eliot quote from the book underscores the underlying theme of the story: “What loneliness is more lonely than distrust?” In the crime world, there are no allies, only enemies.

In some ways, this story reads like a dark fairy tale. Olav grew up reading Norwegian folktales from his mother. She named him after a king. Could it be this king? A man who was extremely popular because he was so well liked and down to earth. It’s an interesting side note that a killer would be named after a well liked king.

Olav is a failed criminal in most things except one: killing people for money. He gets what looks to be a final assignment from his boss that eventually puts him square in the middle of two powerful drug lords. (more)

The Daughter of Time (1951) by Josephine Tey

First edition cover
First edition cover

The Daughter of Time” was published in 1951 by Elizabeth Mackintosh aka Josephine Tey (1896 to 1952). The story uses a detective to sort through historical research to question the popular opinion about Richard III in his complicity in the murder of his two nephews. The CWA in 1990 voted this story as the number one mystery  and the U.S. ranked it fourth. “The Daughter of Time” is the fifth book in the series featuring Scotland Yard Inspector, Alan Grant.

Summary from Goodreads: Scotland Yard Inspector Alan Grant is intrigued by a portrait of Richard III. Could such a sensitive face actually belong to a heinous villain — a king who killed his brother’s children to secure his crown? Grant seeks what kind of man Richard was and who in fact killed the princes in the tower. (more)

The Blunderer (1954) by Patricia Highsmith

BlundererThe Blunderer, published in 1954 is Patricia Highsmith’s third novel. So far there has been only one movie adaptation of the book, the 1963 French film, Enough Rope. In 2014  there was talk of an upcoming film adaptation starring Jessica Biel and others. It’s still in post-production.

The Blunderer is 288 pp and is told in third person narrative. Highsmith’s books continue to intrigue and entertain me.  If you are open to reading her work this isn’t the best place to start. I’d recommend you read Strangers on a Train (1950). I’ve read three of her books and consider myself a fan. Continue reading The Blunderer (1954) by Patricia Highsmith