Richard Stark was one of my favorite authors of all time, and I didn't know it. I knew Donald Westlake though and was plenty bummed when Westlake died in 2008. Just when I thought I'd have no more Westlake novels to consume, I learned that Westlake also wrote under a pseudonym, actually several, and the dude's name was Richard Stark.
The Stark novels are considered noir crime, with the main character of Parker. I just finished Stark's 1974 novel Butcher's Moon and loved it. I'm pretty sure it had the most characters in any book I've read, which generally isn't good for me because I am easily confused, but this worked.
Another of my favorite authors is Lawrence Block, who wrote the forward for this novel, and lo and behold was best buddies with Westlake/Stark. Block recommended that the reader of this book read the previous 15 Stark novels, because he incorporates many of those previous characters into Butcher's Moon, but Block said it wasn't necessary, so I didn't.
In reference to all the characters, Block said: "There are no minor characters, only minor writers." Words to live by.
I gave this on a 7-plus, but could've gone higher. Westlake/Stark is an absolute genius, Twainlike in his character descriptions.
On a not-so-bright guy, Stark wrote: "talking sense to him was like teaching algebra to a brick."
And the guy got shot "and slid down the invisible glass wall of life."
And, if you've got an extra first-edition hard-cover of this baby, shoot me an email. We'll work sumtin out.