The Man with the Getaway Face, by Richard Stark

Follows on from Point Blank. Parker, in an attempt to avoid being tracked down by the Outfit, has had an operation to give himself a new face. He then gets in touch with an old buddy who's setting up a heist. Things become complicated though: first they suspect that one of the gang is out to double-cross them, and then someone turns up who's trying to find out who killed the doctor responsible for the face-lift operations.

Another really good read: the double-cross theme in itself would have made the plot worthwhile, but the story about the doctor's murder made this extra impressive. Stubbs, the guy who's trying to find out who killed the doctor, is not particularly bright, and although he finds Parker, botches his attempt to capture him. Parker, in the middle of trying to sort out a double-double-cross, isn't in a position to straighten things out with Stubbs and locks him in a cellar for a few days. When Stubbs escapes, Parker has to go looking for him - you can sense him sighing with irritation, but he always acts logically, so that while his actions are sometimes shocking, there's no malice in them: he just does what he has to do.

Like Point Blank, the narrative switches point of view and time, so that you get to a particular place in the story from one perspective, and then go back and work up to the same point from another. This works well.

I liked the section when Stubbs is looking for another of the criminals who have had a face-lift and might be the murderer, he goes to the addresses he gets from the phonebook of four people called "C. Wells". Two are women, one is an old guy who's obviously wrong, and the last is a guy in drag who at first propositions him. He remembered that there was only one way to get this flighty type to calm down and make sense, so he reached out and thumped the boy gently on the nose...."Are you Charles Wells?" "My nose," said the boy. Stubbs held up his first. "Yes or no." "Yes! Yes! Don't you dare - " "All right," Stubbs said. He went back downstairs. Four possibilities, and none of them had been the one he wanted, and two and one half of them had been women.

This was the first of three books in an omnibus volume. Not sure if I'll get through the other two before it goes back to the library, but I think I'll try - it's good stuff.

Completed : 26-Aug-2007

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