The Seventh (1966)

The Seventh by Richard Stark (AKA Donald Westlake)
When he didn’t get any answer the second time he knocked, Parker kicked the door in. Only the cheap bolt lock was fastened; the chain lock and the police lock were both open. Parker raised his foot and kicked the flat of his shoe just above the knob just one time, and the door popped open like it was surprised. It went with a dry cracking sound as pieces of the doorway ripped away from around the bolt. It was dry old wood in a rotten old building and it split easy.

The Seventh, appropriately the seventh book in the series, details the aftermath of a brilliant heist of a college football game. This time, rather than being betrayed by one of the seven people involved in the heist, Parker runs into trouble from a psychotic amateur who leaves a sword in his woman and steals the entire take from the operation.

After taking a couple of detours with The Score and The Jugger, The Seventh marks a return to the formula established in the earlier books, albeit with a new twist or two. Perhaps this is because Westlake felt he had failed so badly with The Jugger. In any case, Parker is meaner than ever and the pages fly by.

The Seventh was filmed (and reprinted) as The Split, a film which focuses on the stadium heist idea rather than the aftermath (the heist is a rather small portion of the actual novel). It would be interesting to see it filmed more faithful to the book, with Parker as a sort of criminal Dirty Harry, obsessed with hunting down a killer.

Of course, the fact that the man is a killer is totally irrelevant to Parker–he just wants his money back.

Known printings and cover gallery here.

The Seventh was filmed as The Split.

Al Nussbaum’s introduction to the Gregg Press edition.

To The Jugger, the previous book in the series.

To The Handle, the next book in the series.