Cover image for Breakout
Stark, Richard.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Mysterious Press, [2002]

Physical Description:
299 pages ; 20 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Adult Fiction Popular Materials-Mystery
X Adult Fiction Mystery/Suspense
X Adult Fiction Mystery/Suspense
X Adult Fiction Mystery/Suspense

On Order



One Way in. No Way Out. Even master criminals make mistakes. Parker's most recent sin has landed him in prison, where it's only a matter of time before the law uncovers his real name-and the extent of his astounding criminal career. To escape, Parker must ignore one of his cardinal rules and take on the only partners he can find. Yet his fellow convicts demand a price: the moment they get free, they want Parker to help them break into a former armory now storing a mother lode of precious gems. For Parker, the plan includes too many people, too many complications, and too many weak links. But with a potential big payoff just ahead, Parker is willing to jump-out of the frying pan, into the fire, and onto a scheme that will soon pit every man against every other. Just the way Parker likes it...

Author Notes

Donald Edwin Westlake (July 12, 1933 - December 31, 2008) was an American writer, with over a hundred novels and non-fiction books to his credit. He specialized in crime fiction, especially comic capers, with an occasional foray into science fiction or other genres. He was a three-time Edgar Award winner, one of only three writers (the others are Joe Gores and William L. DeAndrea) to win Edgars in three different categories (1968, Best Novel, God Save the Mark; 1990, Best Short Story, "Too Many Crooks"; 1991, Best Motion Picture Screenplay, The Grifters). In 1993, the Mystery Writers of America named Westlake a Grand Master, the highest honor bestowed by the society.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Writing once again as Richard Stark, Donald E. Westlake delivers an immensely pleasurable entry in the Parker series. After a pharmaceutical heist goes south, Stark's strong, silent antihero faces a dose of hard time. While awaiting arraignment in an overcrowded detention center, Parker formulates an escape with the help of two fellow prisoners, a crooked defense attorney, and sometime-partner-in-crime Ed Mackey. A series of breakouts follow, as Parker and company hit pothole after pothole on their crooked road to freedom. The escapes are by turns clever, desperate, entertainingly frustrating, and flat-out thrilling. No matter the problem, Parker attacks it with relentless, amoral logic. At times, his pragmatic approach is refreshing--if a smart guy is available for your prison crew, who cares what color his skin is? At other points, as when Parker considers abandoning Mackey in a pinch, his attitude is appalling. But by keeping dialogue and character detail to a minimum, Stark invites readers to project themselves onto the always-assured Parker, making him a frighteningly easy sociopath to root for. And watching knowledgeable bad guys ply their shadowy trade under pressure is always fun. Simply put, Breakout is great escapist fiction. --Frank Sennett

Publisher's Weekly Review

This fifth book about master criminal Parker since his welcome return from a 20-year hiatus is packed so tightly with the painstaking details of everything from the dank tedium of prison life to the architecture and construction of a Midwestern shopping complex that it comes as a shock to realize the volume isn't bigger than it is. Stark, the nom de crime adopted for this series by MWA Grand Master Donald Westlake, is an artist of compression, with the ability to create a complex, frightening character in very few words. Of an Asian lawyer visiting Parker in prison, he writes, "Li was amused, not by Parker in particular but by his own entire life; it made him easy to be around, but suggested there were circumstances when he might not be completely reliable." But Stark is also remarkable because he seems to know how everything works and can explain it without slowing down the story. Stuck in a fortress-like holding prison "on the outskirts of the only large city in this big empty midwestern state" after a robbery goes bad, Parker links up with two other prisoners in a totally logical way, then plans a breakout (the first of several in the book) so credible that we're swept up in its mechanics. But before he can return to his haven in rural New Jersey, Parker has to pay off the help he received by taking part in another robbery that falls apart in a different way that's just as exhilarating. Watching artists like Stark and Parker at work is a great pleasure, which an increasing audience will be delighted to share. (Nov. 20) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

If nothing else, Breakout proves that it's hard to get good help nowadays. Returning under the guise of the Stark pen name (following last year's Firebreak), mystery author Donald E. Westlake has Parker, a.k.a. Ronald Kasper, involved in the heist of a pharmaceutical company warehouse that goes terribly wrong owing to the ineptness of a confederate. Ending up in the stir, Parker identifies the two prisoners he can depend on to help him break out of their maximum-security prison. Once out, Parker discovers that he's not rid of his colleagues, who then involve him in the knockoff of a wholesale jewelry company, housed in a supposedly impenetrable ex-armory. After the trio successfully gains entrance to the company, they find that extricating themselves from it proves a lot more difficult. When they effect their escape via the good offices of a pizza delivery man, they are faced with having to elude the police as well as the prison authorities before Parker can gracefully excuse himself with the meager swag he's managed to retrieve. With help at such a premium, fans will thank Stark/Westlake for assisting them in making it through another night of guaranteed spare, straight-ahead action and dark humor. For all public libraries.-Bob Lunn, Kansas City P.L., MO (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.