Last month I asked him what he was reading. His reply:
I bought a Kindle recently and it inspired me to download and reread – for the umpteenth time – one of my favorite books, The Hunter by Richard Stark (a pseudonym of Donald E. Westlake). This tight piece of gutter existentialism, lean as a Brazilian supermodel, follows Parker (no first name, no morals, precious little backstory) an ex-con out of prison and out for revenge.Watch the Dust Devils trailer, and learn more about the book and author at Roger Smith's website.
I first consumed this book as an impressionable early-teen (I still have the dog-eared little paperback, its spine broken, the silver cover sporting a bullet hole and the one-liner: a novel of violence) and have to lay the blame for becoming a crime writer squarely at Mr Stark’s door. He showed me that protagonists don’t have to be nice and that character could (and should) be defined by action, and I was so impressed I sat down and tried to write my own crime novel.
Sadly, it took me thirty-something years to finish my first book, but I have never forgotten my debt to Richard Stark. And The Hunter remains as fresh as when it was first published in the early sixties – an antidote to the bloated Scandinavian bookshelf-benders the world is so enamoured of.
Read about Roger Smith's top 10 crime novels.
The Page 69 Test: Mixed Blood.
The Page 69 Test: Wake Up Dead.