Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Westlake on Pratchett

You really shouldn't need anyone to persuade you to read the new Terry Pratchett novel, Thud! But if you do, Donald Westlake is your man, in the Washington Post. Hats off to the books editor of the Post, by the way; this is an inspired piece of review commissioning. (Link from Locus.)

Westlake, for you youngsters, is a crime novelist of long standing and great eminence. Among other memorable things, he wrote (under the name Richard Stark -- now start to concentrate here, please) the series of (short) novels featuring a professional criminal called Parker, and managed to make Parker into a sympathetic character, which is quite an achievement.

One of those Richard Stark books, The Hunter, was made into Point Blank, one of the more memorable and watchable movies of the past thirty years. And so The Hunter was then renamed Point Blank, because of the movie; and it was later re-renamed Payback because of the other movie, also based on The Hunter and scripted by Westlake (with others) from the Richard Stark book, with Parker renamed as Porter. Look, I warned you to concentrate.

Westlake has written an enormous amount of stuff over the years, under at least four different names. Go to his web site and check 'em out. Whatever the pseudonym, track 'em all down; they're all bloody good.

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