Nobody Runs Forever

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Thief and occasional murderer Parker has appeared in nearly two dozen mysteries, the first of which was filmed as the 1967 noir classic Point Blank. Since then Parker has mellowed a bit, picking up a steady girlfriend and a permanent base. But crime is still his business, and its course never runs true. In Nobody Runs Forever Parker plots to hijack an armored car from a midnight convoy in Massachusetts, but the insiders on the job--the restive wife of a bank manager and her hapless former lover--cannot leave well enough alone. Complicating matters are a pair of bounty hunters and a tenacious policewoman who sees through Parker’s cover.

Much of the appeal of this series lies in the nuts and bolts of the operation. Where do you advertise for accomplices in Parker’s line of work? How do you secure sufficient firepower to rob an armored car? Nobody Runs Forever opens with a harrowing scene as Parker disposes of a potential partner in crime he discovers wearing a “wire” or microphone. But the tone of the novel tends toward the mordantly funny as Parker’s appealingly intricate plans go wrong at every turn.

In “real” life author Richard Stark is Donald E. Westlake, who has won nearly every award in the mystery field. Parker is his darkest protagonist, but dark as he is, he compels readers’ grudging admiration. Nobody Runs Forever ends on an ambiguous note. Is it really true that nobody, not even Parker, runs forever? Stay tuned.