Monday, November 13, 2006

Garry Disher's "Kickback"

I've started Kickback, the first of Disher's six novels published between 1991 and 1997 about a tough professional thief named Wyatt. Wyatt works three or four jobs a year and relaxes in warm locales the rest of the time, like Richard Stark's Parker. He is identified only by a last name, like Parker, and his capers can go wrong when an amateur is part of the job, like Parker's.

Many reviewers have noted the similarities. Wyatt is similar to Parker, "obviously inspired by Parker," even "a Parker clone," according to one Wyatt admirer on this blog. What I've never seen Wyatt called is an affectionate tribute to Parker, and that's what this book is in its opening chapters. The set-up is nearly identical to those in some of the Stark books, for example, but the characters act in ways just different enough to give the story a slightly different feeling. Disher also pays a bit more attention to details of setting than Stark, and there is just enough unfamiliar language to spice things up for this North American reader (" ... they were too up themselves to be sus about what he did for a crust.")

Stark (nom de plume of Donald Westlake) may have returned the compliment. The first four Wyatt novels are Kickback, Paydirt, Deathdeal and Crosskill. When Stark brought Parker back in 1998 after a twenty-five year hiatus, he called the first five new Parker novels Comeback, Backflash, Flashfire, Firebreak and Breakout. Are the similar titles coincidence? I think not.

More later.

© Peter Rozovsky 2006

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