Lemons Never Lie (Hard Case Crime (Mass Market Paperback)) - Richard Stark (Donald E. Westlake) Things get off to a bad start. Through force of habit, whenever in Las Vegas, Grofield, summer stock theater owner and actor (live theater thank you, film acting is for mannequins--“an actor who stepped before a camera was in the process of rotting his own talent,”) and professional thief, drops a nickel in a slot machine when arriving and departing from the airport. This time he won fourteen nickels, hitting three lemons. Not a good sign. And the job this character Myers had designed was a “doozy,” involving a fire engine, multiple explosions and lots of machine gun fire. Grofield wants out. He leaves and the other pros in the group leave with him.

Unfortunately, Myers is the worst kind of amateur, vindictive, and soon Grofield finds himself having to deal with Myers on a personal level. Things progress from one heist to another with Myers always getting in the way.

Several reviewers complained that Grofield is a pale comparison to Parker. While I like the Parker series very much, the idea that there might be two of them running around, duplicates of each other, would have demeaned Wakefield’s talent. Grofield is a kinder, gentler, Parker, if you will. I found the connection to summer stock theater a refreshing twist making the noir a shade lighter. Different, but equally satisfying. Classic Stark, first published in 1971.