Author Rating: A

Sir Anthony Hope Hawkins, or Anthony Hope as he was known to his readers, was born February 9, 1863, a young contemporary of Thomas Hardy. While Hardy is remembered and celebrated today, Hope is largely forgotten as a writer. I only discovered him by chance while looking through Andy Minter‘s Librivox catalog. I am delighted to have discovered Hope. His writing is quick and engaging.

His tenth novel, published in 1893, The Prisoner of Zenda put Hope firmly on his contemporaneous public’s map and then further popularized when it was made into a movie in 1913, again in 1922 and 1937. Even though he’s forgotten as a writer, his storytelling has influenced movies and TV shows well into the late 20th century. Hope published 32 novels by 1925 and died July 8, 1933.

The Prisoner of Zenda: being the history of three months in the life of an English gentleman (Listened 09/2016) Recommended

Rupert of Hentzau: being the sequel to a story by the same writer entitled the Prisoner of Zenda (Listened 11/2016) Recommended

I listened to both of these as audio recordings, read by the wonderful Andy Minter who brings the stories alive with his deft chracterizations.

The two novels are set in the imaginary central European country of Ruritania, where adventure and true love and heartbreak await.

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.”