“When the guy with asthma came in through the fire escape, Parker hit him in the throat and took his gun away.”
That (if my memory is accurate) is the first line of the first book I ever read by Donald E. Westlake — writing in that book as Richard Stark. I’ve read every Westlake book I could find — those under his own name, the Stark books, and in other pseudonyms (Tucker Coe, etc.). He’s my favorite author ever. And now there won’t be any more books. I’ll just have to content myself re-reading the books he did write. Fortunately, there’s about 100 of them, plus the NYT obit I linked to has a couple pseudonyms I didn’t know about (Samuel Holt, Edwin West). I guess that’s some consolation. Damn.
P.S. My memory isn’t perfect — I just checked the book (“The Mourner”) and the first line is, “When the guy with asthma finally came in from the fire escape, Parker rabbit-punched him and took his gun away.” Here’s the rest of the first paragraph: “The asthmatic hit the carpet, but there’d been another one out there, and he landed on Parker’s back like a duffel bag with arms. Parker fell turning, so that the duffel bag would be on the bottom, but it didn’t quite work out that way. They landed sideways, joltingly, and the gun skittered away into the darkness.”