Breakout, another Parker novel, finds author Richard Stark’s antihero in prison in an unnamed prairie state, facing extradition to California on a murder charge. He recruits two other hard-core criminals to help him escape from maximum-security Stoneveldt Detention Center. They leave behind a dead inmate who had threatened to squeal on them.
In urgent need of funds to get far away from the region where state and federal officers have given his recapture top priority, Parker gets involved in a scheme to break into a wholesale jewelry establishment housing incalculable riches. The firm is located in a fortress-like building that used to be an armory back in the nineteenth century. A secret tunnel from the ancient fortress has been boarded up and forgotten over time.
The plan works well enough going in. The delighted felons load themselves down with bags of choicest gems. On the way back out, however, part of the old tunnel’s ceiling collapses, burying the three men and sealing off the escape exit. Now, after having managed a breakout from the maximum security prison, Parker must come up with a plan to break out of the impregnable armory before the jewelry company opens for business in the morning and the employees discover the devastation.
Richard Stark is one of the many pseudonyms of acclaimed crime-fiction writer Donald E. Westlake, noted for his humor and inexhaustible imagination. His specialty is getting his unflappable heroes into impossible situations and then getting them out again. Breakout is another highly satisfactory Stark/Westlake page-turner.