Thick As Thieves

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Mackin is a thief and evidently a good one. Although some law enforcement agencies suspect his existence, they do not have the concrete evidence required for an investigation. Yet an independent entrepreneur, even a good one, must occasionally defer to another’s will when the lords of organized crime call for assistance. Thus when Frank Riles, a fixture in a powerful Chicago crime family, requests a favor, Mackin has little choice but to give the matter strenuous consideration. Unfortunately, although Riles and Mackin have certain scruples, Pointy Williams does not. Therefore, Mackin resolves to show Williams the error of his ways. This, in a sparse nutshell is the plot of Patrick Quinn’s new effort. THICK AS THIEVES is well written and interesting enough as a first effort, but it has a problem.

In the 1960’s, Donald Westlake, writing as Richard Stark, created a thoroughly amoral criminal mastermind known as Parker. Through a series of works, Parker made his merciless way through a number of operations designed to transfer substantial sums of money from the rightful owners to alternate locations. Along the way, Parker ran afoul of men less ethical than himself and the consequences were inevitably fatal for all those who were so inclined. Quinn has produced a Parker for the 1990’s, but although the imitation might be flattering it falls rather short of the mark. Quite frankly, if Parker were to go up against Mackin it would be akin to putting a poodle up against a pit bull. Quinn should be encouraged to continue his literary endeavors, but he might wish to rethink his protagonist.