Not Quite Parker review: The Hunted–The Dame (#2) by Dave Zeltserman

You get some things right, you get some things wrong.

In my review of The Hunted, the first volume of Dave Zeltserman’s new series of the same name, I wrote:

“I got the impression that Zeltserman just wanted to get the origin story out of the way so that he could get on to the good stuff as quickly as possible[.]”

I suspect that I was right about that, because volume two, The Dame, slows things down just a bit and also eliminates the telling rather than showing that worked well enough for one volume but that I had worries about as a regular feature of the series.

I also wrote:

“Despite the Stark-referencing titles of the first two volumes and everything else mentioned in Zeltserman’s description, it would stretch the definition to call The Hunted a Parker pastiche.”

I was right about volume one, but wrong about where Zeltserman was taking the series. The Dame is a full-blown and unapologetic Parker pastiche. The elevator pitch could be “a high-tech version of Parker (and his dog) battle a conspiracy.”

Dan Willis still isn’t exactly Parker. He’s got some compassion and need for companionship, as the dog illustrates. And as Zeltserman is of a different generation than Richard Stark/Donald Westlake and Dan Willis has extensive government training, Willis embraces the modern technology that Parker largely eschewed.

But Willis’ libido now functions exactly like Parker’s, not functioning at all before a big job and ravenous when it’s all over. He’s also adapted a single name (Burke; an Andrew Vachhs nod?) for use with his underworld contacts. The events of The Hunted have hardened his personality into something much closer to Parker’s. And the style of the prose is much closer to Richard Stark’s than the prose in The Hunted was.

The Dame begins with Willis, who needs money constantly to support living off the grid, on his first heist, a high-stakes poker game. What happens during that heist leads directly to his second, which is a much bigger affair–the theft of the title painting, with a buyer willing to pay millions for it.

The Dame reads like a Reader’s Digest Condensed Parker, with all of the elements that we know and love crammed into a scant 70 pages. There are the team assembled to do the job with weaker and stronger members, the execution of the heists, the crosses, and the violence. Zeltserman even plays around with point-of-view shifts similar to those in the Parker novels.

And it works quite well. I enjoyed The Hunted, but The Dame is its superior in nearly every facet. I think Parker fans looking for something along the same lines will really like it.

And it looks like Zeltserman plans to keep this series going for some time, as the conspiracy stuff is only in the background in this volume and he leaves a few threads from this novel’s story hanging out there to be wrapped up farther down the line.

Fine by me. I look forward to the next volume.

Update: Gah! This is what I get for writing in a hurry. I forgot to mention that the setup of the bar where the second heist is planned is obviously modeled on the bar where the Dortmunder gang plans its heists.

Posts in this series:

Not Quite Parker review: The Hunted #1 by Dave Zeltserman

Not Quite Parker review: The Hunted–The Dame (#2) by Dave Zeltserman (this post)

Buy The Hunted (The Hunted Series #1)

Buy The Dame (The Hunted Series #2)

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