This is the second book in Richard Stark's series about the amoral criminal, Parker. At the end of the first, The Hunter, Parker is on the run from the organized crime syndicate, the Outfit. At the opening of this book, he has made his way to Nebraska, where he successfully undergoes surgery to change his face to such an extent that even his old associates don't recognize him.
At the conclusion of the operation, Parker returns to the East, desperately in need of a score. An old acquaintance proposes an armored car heist, but Parker is extremely leary of the job. He's not all that confident in the old acquaintance and he likes even less the fact that the job is the bright idea of a waitress that the old acquaintance is living with. Parker's even more discouraged once he meets the woman in question, but he really needs the money and so agrees to the plan. He brings in another old friend, one in whom he has complete confidence, and redesigns the plan in the hope that he can get away with the loot before everything turns to crap.
As readers of this series will well know, that's never going to happen. Complications arise at nearly every turn and, as always, much of the fun in reading these books is watching the way in which Parker deals with one crisis after another. At this point, Stark, a pseudonym for Donald Westlake, was just beginning to hit his stride with this character. Happily, the series would run for a good number of years and nearly twenty-five books. This one, though, contains perhaps the best description of Parker, who "looked like a man who'd made money, but who'd made it without sitting behind a desk."
This book will appeal to any fan of crime fiction who likes his or her books lean, mean and captivating.(