Lemons Never Lie (Alan Grofield #4)by Richard Stark Published 04 Jul 2006
|Lemons Never Lie (Alan Grofield #4).pdf|
|Format||Mass Market Paperback|
|Publisher||Hard Case Crime|
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When he's not pulling heists with his friend Parker, Alan Grofield runs a small theatre in Indiana. But putting on shows costs money and jobs have been thin, which is why Grofield agrees to listen to Andrew Myers' plan to knock over a brewery. Unfortunately, Myer's plan is insane - so Grofield walks out on him. And you don't walk out on Myers...
"Lemons Never Lie (Alan Grofield #4)" Reviews
Perhaps the first clue that Donald Westlake was planning to close out the world of Richard Stark, the previous Grofield adventures involved him being dropped into someone else’s intrigue against his will; this one could have been a Parker story. It involves a job that is a definite "no" from the beginning, and how that job follows him back to his civilian life. This results in an extremely serious turn of the kind this series seldom touched upon. It triggers the final act of the novel, where the story--at last--comes back to its traditional style. But in hindsight you can see Westlake winding things down.
We open to stage actor and sometimes bank robber, Grofield, performing his ritual nickel sacrifice upon his arrival in Las Vegas. When the game plan meeting turns out to be some sort of amateur hour pitch featuring glossy photos and poor planning, Grofield bows out. And, well, if that was the end of that, then this would be a very short story.
I picked this one up hoping for a little Richard Stark sustenance while waiting for my next Parker novel to arrive. And, while Grofield and Parker are purportedly pals, they’re also pretty different. Exhibit A: Grofield’s not exactly a fan of violence (which I would think might make an awkward moment or two when hanging with Parker). I tried not to hold Grofield’s lack of Parkerishness against him and enjoyed Stark/Westlake’s no nonsense, straightforward style.
I think what really kept me from sinking my teeth into this one was the name “Grofield,” which (especially given my concurrent presidential readings) just made me think of James Garfield and Grover Cleveland being the ultimate POTUS power couple.
- Use of the word “blowhard,” which made me think of everyone’s favorite analrapist, Tobias Fünke
This is the fourth novel to feature thief Alan Grofield in his own series (he makes a couple of appearances in Starks' more well known Parker books) and the first Richard Stark novel to be published by Hardcase Crime.
For a relatively short novel Stark packed a lot of punch into this one. The story evolves from a failed attempt to lure Grofield into a shady snatch and grab planned by inexperienced and unprofessional crooks. Little did Grofield know that walking out on the deal would later result in him dodging bullets while shooting a few back of own.
LEMONS NEVER LIE is very enjoyable and easily readable for both Parker/Gorfield newcomers and those who are well read in either series.
This was my second time reading LEMONS NEVER LIE.
Theatre owner and part-time hood Alan Grofield goes to Las Vegas for job. Once he figures out the guy running things is crazy and the job is a long shot at best, he backs out, along with another crook, Dan Leach. Only Myer, the guy running things, is crazy. He ambushes Grofield and Leach, then makes off with Leach's winnings from the casino. From there, Grofield goes back home and Leach goes after Myer. When Leach turns up at Grofield's theatre with multiple knife wounds, things get messy...
Lemons Never Lie was my first Richard Stark novel and I enjoyed it. It was more serious than Westlake's work under his own name. The capers were believeable and Grofield turned out to be a pretty likeable character for part time criminal. The twists were unexpected and Stark never lets you catch your breath for long.
I guess I'll be tracking down more Stark/Westlake once the to-read pile gets a little smaller.
This was fun, but I kept looking around for Parker. I like Grofield & he makes a great main character. He's actually a lot more interesting & likeable than Parker. The story was otherwise a lot like one of the Parker novels, a bit bloodier than some.
Some mystery authors write police procedurals. Most of Donald Westlake’s books seem like criminal procedurals. In the course of reading a Westlake novel (or in this case, one of his Richard Stark novels), I’ve discovered so many variables that I never considered about pulling a criminal caper. Of course, in the Dortmunder novels, there is usually a comic twist on all of the planning and preparation. Those are black comedies in the classic sense. Lemons Never Lie also has some twists, but they aren’t necessarily humorous. The novel is dark, but it’s not black comedy in the sense of other Westlake novels and say, Carl Hiassen’s work.
At the same time, Lemons Never Lie isn’t a difficult read. It moves quickly in spite of some of the dark events which occur and doesn’t drag you down into the depths like some of James Ellroy’s books and the occasional Max Collins’ noir effort. Unlike many Hard Case Crime novels, this one doesn’t have you feeling that the protagonist is already drowning when he hits the whirlpool that sucks him down deeper. You sense that the protagonist is strong-willed and determined to make it work.
I suppose, deep down, I was also attracted to the idea of a protagonist who has an artistic bent and must engage in criminal activities to support his art. I suppose he is Utilitarian at heart as he “promotes” the artistic endeavor (the ends) with a means (armed robbery) that most of us would find unacceptable. It’s a fascinating premise that creates interesting dialogue and juxtaposition.
While much of Lemons Never Lie offers elements of predictability, it was quite an enjoyable experience and perfect (both in form factor, style, and number of pages) for reading on the go. These Hard Case Crime books are usually excellent purchases. I’ve only been disappointed twice in 20+ efforts. Imagine if my Cubs had a team batting average that high!