Butcher’s Moon by Richard Stark

Butcher’s Moon, published in 1974, is the 16th entry in the Parker series of hard-boiled crime novels. This one is a kind of summing up, since Parker recruits many of the guys he’s worked with on previous jobs to help him destroy a criminal organization in a Midwestern city. And the next Parker novel wasn’t published for 23 years. 

The situation in this one is that Parker and his fellow thieves stole $73,000 a few years ago, but had to leave the money behind. He goes back to get the money where he hid it, but it’s not there anymore. He figures it was the local crooks who took his money, so he tells them he wants it back. They don’t cooperate. Obviously a mistake. 

Butcher’s Moon has too many characters, too many corpses and too many implausibilities, but it’s worth reading if you like this kind of thing. In the last chapter, Parker doesn’t say a word. Other people do the talking. That’s a fitting ending, since Parker only talks when he has something to say, using as few words as possible.  (3/30/12)

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