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Literature: Parker
Parker is a fictional character created by Donald E. Westlake. He is the main protagonist of 24 of the 28 novels Westlake wrote under the pseudonym Richard Stark.

A ruthless career criminal, Parker has almost no traditional redeeming qualities, aside from efficiency and professionalism. Parker is cold, methodical, and perfectly willing to commit murder to get what he wants. His first name is never mentioned in the novels, and there are many details about him which remain unknown. Starting in the 2010s, the novels are being adapted into comics by Darwyn Cooke for IDW Publishing.

The novels in the Parker series are:

  • The Hunter (1962, aka Point Blank, Payback)
  • The Man With the Getaway Face (1963, aka The Steel Hit)
  • The Outfit (1963)
  • The Mourner (1963)
  • The Score (1964, aka Killtown)
  • The Jugger (1965)
  • The Seventh (1966, aka The Split)
  • The Handle (1966, aka Run Lethal)
  • The Rare Coin Score (1967)
  • The Green Eagle Score (1967)
  • The Black Ice Score (1968)
  • The Sour Lemon Score (1969)
  • Deadly Edge (1971)
  • Slayground (1971 First chapter shared with The Blackbird, a novel in Westlake's Alan Grofield series)
  • Plunder Squad (1972)
  • Butcher's Moon (1974)
  • Comeback (1997)
  • Backflash (1998)
  • Flashfire (2000, aka Parker)
  • Firebreak (2001)
  • Breakout (2002)
  • Nobody Runs Forever (2004)
  • Ask the Parrot (2006)
  • Dirty Money (2008)

The Parker novels contain examples of:

  • Adaptation Distillation: The Parker graphic novels. The Outfit opens with the heist from The Man With The Getaway Face before swinging into the plot of the book it's titled after, and Slayground features a short story adapted from the finale of The Seventh.
  • The Alcatraz: Stoneveldt in Breakout has this reputation. Parker is told multiple times that no one has ever escaped from there. Played with in the sense that it's not due to the overall defenses but rather that no one's there long enough to formulate a plan.
  • And Now for Someone Completely Different: Fairly consistently, the books will spend the third of four sections being told from the perspective of somebody else in the story before reverting back to Parker.
    • Got to the point where Alan Grofield got his own series of books, one of which crosses over with Parker's.
  • Anyone Can Die: Parker himself obviously always makes it out. The series is not shy about bumping off anybody else, though.
  • Armed Blag: Several. They never quite go as smoothly as Parker would like.
  • Badass: Parker. How Badass? Well, he's been portrayed on film by Lee Marvin, Mel Gibson and Jason Statham...
  • Bare-Fisted Monk: Parker is perfectly willing to use guns, knives, clubs and booby trapped amusement parks as weapons, but he prefers to work with his hands.
    Stegman: I don't see no gun on you. I don't see no weapon!
    Parker: (cracks knuckles) You see two of them. They're all I need.
  • Black and Grey Morality: Parker can and will kill with dispassion, but generally prefers a minimum of violence in his heists and won't kill somebody unless they're trying to kill him directly or indirectly. He also won't take more than his share from a heist unless he's been double-crossed or otherwise screwed over.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Parker
  • Criminal Procedural
  • Evil Is Cool: Played with. Parker is undeniably a badass, but the "professionals" he works with often wind up dead and Parker himself can find himself stripped of a stake.
  • Finagle's Law: Especially in the later books, almost inevitably something no amount of planning could anticipate hits Parker from the side.
  • Great Escape: The first third of Breakout is dedicated to Parker organising a Great Escape from Stoneveldt.
  • The Heist: Most of the novels revolve around some kind of heist.
  • Honor Among Thieves: Parker has a rigid code of honour, in that A) he will absolutely not double-cross another professional criminal with whom he is working, unless B) if anyone tries to double-cross him, Parker will unhesitatingly undertake to exact a thorough and brutal revenge.
  • It Works Better with Bullets: In Comeback, Parker unloads Liss's shotgun while Liss is sleeping. This saves his life when Liss double-crosses him.
  • Karma Houdini: If Parker is just stealing something, he'll generally get away clean with no repercussions, although not without trouble. If Parker commits murder, it comes back to bite him.
  • Left for Dead: Parker is left for dead when he is betrayed by his wife and his partner after The Heist in The Hunter. He wakes up inside a burning house. Managing to escape, he goes on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
  • Loose Lips: The undoing of more than one of Parker's carefully planned heists.
  • The Mafia: Called "The Outfit" in the books; Parker deals with them so effectively they begin referring work to him.
  • Never Bring a Knife to a Fist Fight: Parker is arguably more dangerous without a weapon than with one.
  • No Honor Among Thieves: Many of Parker's heists go astray when one of his partners decides to betray the crew and take the loot for themselves.
  • Only One Name: Parker's first name is never revealed. It's an open question as to whether "Parker" is even his real name.
  • Plethora of Mistakes: Parker's carefully planned heists seldom go according to plan; usually due to either the greed of his partners or the interference of other criminals.
  • Pocket Protector: Parker survives his wife's attempt to kill in The Hunter because her first shot hits his belt buckle. This knocks him down and causes her remaining five wild shots to pass over the top of him.
  • Red Shirt: At least one per book.
  • Refuge in Audacity: The Score features Parker and a team robbing an entire town in one night.
    • The Green Eagle Score features Parker heisting a payroll from an Air Force base.
    • Butcher's Moon has a team of thieves Parker assembles strike multiple Outfit targets in one night before assaulting their headquarters.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: The Hunter is about Parker going after his wife and partner who double-crossed him and left him for dead.
    • Butcher's Moon features Parker assembling an army and ruthlessly killing most of the criminal infrastructure of a small city.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: Several of Parker's targets.
  • Spoiler Title: The title of The Seventh makes it pretty clear what's going to happen when you discover it involves a seven-man job.
  • What an Idiot: Westlake will generally take some time at some point in each book to illustrate what an amateur would do in a situation, and why it's a bad idea.
    • This is taken to new heights in one of Westlake's Dortmunder books, which alternates between the crooks reading a Parker novel with a carefully executed kidnapping, and the thieves in "real life" screwing up the plan completely.
  • Villain Protagonist

The Hot RockCriminal ProceduralThe Wire
The PactCrime FictionPhilip Marlowe

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