Monday, October 28, 2013

Starktober 26: Nobody Runs Forever

All of the Parker novels are connected, at least slightly, to others in the series, with recurring characters and old problems that turn back up. But until Nobody Runs Forever each novel stood completely alone -- sure, Butcher's Moon was a direct sequel to the events of Slayground, and, to a lesser extent, so was The Outfit to The Hunter, but each of those novels began from a new place.

Nobody Runs Forever, on the other hand, begins a trilogy -- the last three Parker novels run into each other directly, telling three closely connected stories with many of the same characters, situations, and locations. But, like so many Parker novels, it begins somewhere else, during a meet in Cincinnati for another job that doesn't come together. (Given how many jobs don't work out, it's mildly surprising that there can be established heisters that Parker doesn't know -- this particular scene has seven men, and multiply that by a few times a year, and you're left with three possibilities: the heisting world is huge, turnover is massive, or Parker already knows everybody he could possibly work with.)

When a job goes wrong from the start, it's usually someone's fault -- someone tipped off the law, or is wearing a wire, or organized the job so badly that it never could work. In those cases -- like this one -- that guy often needs to be taken care of. But that's not Parker's problem -- he didn't bring the problem in this time, so he can walk away. Of course, since that job fell through, he still needs a new job, to replenish his money. And so, on the way out of that failed job, he talks to another guy, Dalesia, about another thing that might be happening -- it didn't look as solid to begin with, but a man's gotta work, right?

So Parker checks out Dalesia's other thing -- a planned robbery in western Massachusetts, hitting the armored cars finishing up a merger of two small local banks, which has a lot of the usual problems. The finger this time is two amateurs, one of them Elaine Langen, the wife of the current head of the bank being swallowed up -- she's sour at the loss of her Daddy's bank, angry at her husband, and just wants to get out of everything. The other is Jake Beckham, a pro by courtesy; he used to run security at that bank (and screw Langen, which they both thought was secret until it was too late), but he went to prison for re-purposing the bank's money for his own use, or for being too dumb to cover his tracks. The big problem is that neither of them is reliable at all, and both of them are the obvious suspects if a job does happen -- particularly since they re-started their affair when Beckham got out of jail.

But that's not Parker's problem, as long as he and Dalesia (and one more guy they bring in along the way) can do the job and get out of the area. If he leaves behind Langen and Beckham, expecting to go on with their lives and hide their new wealth, and bad things happen to them -- well, Parker's not there to give them a lesson in how to live their lives.

The problems don't end there, though: there's a pair of bounty hunters snooping around, looking for the guy who messed up that first meet in Cincinnati -- who they're never going to find above the ground. And there's a female Detective for the state cops, Gwen Reversa, who is too smart for Parker's comfort and is already poking around the lives of Langen and Beckham (who are too dumb and impetuous for Parker's comfort).

And then the aftermath of the job is worse than anyone expected: this is the first Parker novel set fully post-9/11 (though Stark never specifically says that), with a militarized police response, including massive roadblocks and continuous helicopter sweeps. The whole area is locked down tight, and no one is getting out of it with a million and a half in stolen bank money, no matter what.

Even getting out at all might be too much to ask for -- remember that our title this time is the ominous Nobody Runs Forever. But, unlike this book's first readers in 2004, we now can move right on to Ask the Parrot and Dirty Money, to finish up not just this story, but all of Parker's stories. Tomorrow, we'll look at Ask the Parrot.

Starktober Introduction and Index

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