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Donald E. Westlake (Donald Edwin Westlake) Biography

(1933– ), (Donald Edwin Westlake), The Mercenaries, The Man with the Getaway Face, The Green Eagle Score

American crime novelist, who also writes as Richard Stark, Tucker Coe, Curt Clark, and Timothy J. Culver; born in Brooklyn, educated at the University of New York at Binghamton, he became a full-time author in 1959. The Mercenaries (1960) placed him initially within the Hammett tradition, but in 1962 he took the pseudonym Richard Stark to write the first of sixteen novels featuring Parker, a meticulous and ruthless professional thief, books convincing in their portrayal of organized crime from the inside. In The Man with the Getaway Face (1963), Parker overcomes a clumsy double-cross following a security van heist; The Green Eagle Score (1967) finds him planning to rob a US Air Force base of its payroll; the final and bloodiest Parker thriller is Butcher's Moon (1974). Westlake's novels under his own name have an entirely different manner, often being light-hearted capers such as Somebody Owes Me Money (1969), in which a cab driver becomes involved with gangsters, or the ‘Dortmunder’ novels about a group of comically inept thieves who, in Bank Shot (1972), manage to steal an entire mobile bank. Writing as Tucker Coe, Westlake created a much darker series of novels involving Mitch Tobin, a guilt-ridden ex-policeman, the most disturbing of which is Wax Apple (1970). Latterly, Westlake has favoured suspense crime-comedies, as in Too Much! (1975) and Trust Me on This (1988), and continues to write entertainingly within various subgenres. Several of his books have been filmed, most notably Point Blank (1967), directed by John Boorman.

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Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Robert Penn Warren Biography to Kenneth White Biography