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Breakout (Parker, #21) - Richard Stark The robbery of a pharmaceutical wholesaler goes south and Parker winds up in the clink. The cops have his prints and link him to the killing he did as Ronald Kasper when he escaped the work camp ages ago. Can Parker bust out of the hoosegow? And what's waiting in the wings when he does?

I've been complaining about the post-Butcher's Moon Parker books not being as good as the early ones for quite some time. They're too long and don't have the punch of the earlier books. So, is Breakout more of the same?

Well, it's still a little long but I thought it was an improvement over the last couple Parker books I've read. Parker having to survive in jail for a period of time was a nice change of pace, and the caper he had to participate in with Marcantoni (who I kept calling Macaroni) was both an interesting idea and a bad idea from the start. A tunnel into a former armory to rob a jewelry wholesaler?

The supporting cast other than Ed Mackey and Williams, Parker's cellmate, weren't much to speak of. I was surprised when Brenda got pinched. Parker seemed a little softer in The Breakout but he seems that way in most of the post-hiatus Parker books. The writing lacked some of the punch of the earlier books but seemed less Westlake-ish than the previous couple books.

In conclusion, the Breakout is almost a return to Stark's earlier form and my favorite of the post-Butcher's Moon books so far.