Reviews of Hunter, the (1962)
Review by karnak (2007-06-10)
The first Donald E. Westlake novel under the Richard Stark pseudonym was originally written as a stand-alone book until the publisher encouraged him to change the ending to allow for a series. Itís most famous as the source for the groundbreaking crime film Point Blank, but though it doesnít have the experimental flourishes of the movie, it stands squarely on its own two feet. With its casual brutality, its bland quasi-corporate bad guys and the chucking of its moral compass out the window it is more characteristic of sixties crime fiction than of its fifties pulp predecessors.
Though Parker is a heist man, this is mainly a revenge novel, a dynamite one. That Parker is a man with no past except for the heist that ended with him left for dead and the wife who helped set him up is suggested at the opening when he tramps on foot across the George Washington Bridge toward Manhattan as if he didnít exist before stepping onto the footpath on the Jersey side. He is a man utterly without sentiment; other people barely exist for him except as a means to an end. He is the ultimate guy who just lives for the work, a monomaniacal stealing and killing machine. His dialogue is as hardchewed as it gets, he just says the bare minimum to achieve his objective. This is ultra-hardboiled stuff: in one scene he accidentally kills a woman just because he wants to use her window for surveillance. The writing is direct, efficient, a little crude, kind of like Parker himself (this was only the prolific Westlakeís third novel). But it is his climb up the chain-of-command of the corporate-styled mob called the Organization to get his share of the heist money back that makes this one of the best, if not the best, of the Parker novels.