Richard Stark and his unlikely hero Parker grow on one with each book in the series.
The first line of the book reads: "When the phone rang, Parker was in the garage killing a man."
From then on it is a roller coaster ride on the wrong side of the law.
Firebreak is a thrilling tale of an art heist with a bloody side as Parker gets rid of his stalkers. It is about the absolute necessity of survival and the practical decisions that men on the sidelines of civilisation make.
Parker is the anti-hero who lives on his wits and the wealth he wrests from the rich. He has a morality of his own - to get the job done at all costs.
He kills to safeguard his life and gets rid of the detritus efficiently. He makes decisions rationally and coldly and carries the reader effortlessly into his amoral world.
Stark has created an unusual mastermind who is the antithesis of the detection novel. He unpeels the world of the real criminals, not the emotional murderers who are fodder for the cops.
His main character is an untouchable who easily rides over the scruples of the reader and has one rooting fervently for Parker to get away with his swag.
Stark is surely overtaking Leslie Charteris' The Saint in giving us a murderous criminal who does nothing for the poor, but who everyone wants to love.
There are no long-winded explanations about the technology of crime, weapons or master plans. The plot moves at breakneck speed to a satisfying conclusion.
Parker eliminates the inept criminals who try to foil his plans. And wins the day.