Ask The Parrot is the second Richard Stark novel I read, the eighteenth or nineteenth by Westlake.

I am delighted to learn that James Wolcott of Vanity Fair wrote a review of Ask The Parrot when it was published back in 2006.

One of the things I really enjoy about the Parker novels is the way they pick up where the previous one left off, because when you finish one you’re left saying, “Wow, did he recover the loot?” It is in the Stark novels that Dashiell Hammett‘s influence on Westlake is most apparent.

“Ask the Parrot,” is the sequel to the ominously titled “Nobody Runs Forever” (2004), a cliffhanger that left Parker fleeing police tracker dogs after an armored-car holdup went blooey. What Parker and his crew hadn’t calibrated was how the war on terror had shaved the margin of error. They reckoned they had exit time to spare after the heist. Instead, “law enforcement in recent years had come to expect an attack from somewhere outside the United States, that could hit anywhere at any time and strike any kind of target, and they’d geared up for it.” Worse, the integration of law-enforcement data collecting meant that once your alias and mug shot were tapped into the system, no set of stolen license plates or fake ID was foolproof. Hiding became harder, every move easier to trace. At the beginning of “Ask the Parrot,” Parker legs it up a hill not far from a small town called Pooley, only to find himself staring into the barrel of a hunting rifle pointed by Tom Lindahl, a loner with a grudge, a plan and a parrot that doesn’t have much to say for itself. Lindahl’s scheme involves the robbery of a local racetrack that’s done him grievous wrong, and that’s all we’re going to say about the plot, which has the usual high quotient of mishaps, reversals, double crosses, fatal surprises and automotive information. “Parker saw the gray Volkswagen Jetta start out of Pooley after Tom Lindahl’s Ford S.U.V., and fell in line behind it, in the Infiniti he’d taken from Brian Hopwood’s gas station.”