Alan Grofield is a fictional character created by Donald E. Westlake. He is the main protagonist of four of the 28 novels Westlake has written under the pseudonym Richard Stark, and a supporting character in an additional four. Grofield's first appearance was in the novel The Score, which was published in 1964.
A career criminal and professional thief, Grofield is a devilishly handsome and charming womanizer whose main passion in life is the stage. This love of theatre does not extend to cinema; Grofield has a deep, almost pathological disdain for television and film acting, which he considers a unacceptable perversion of the actor's craft. Accordingly, despite the fact that film and TV roles can be lucrative, Grofield will under no circumstances pursue acting opportunities in these fields.
Grofield owns a summer stock company, which operates out of a converted barn in (fictional) Mead Grove, Indiana. The primary reason he steals is to keep his money-losing theatre company running, and he might well quit his second profession if he could make a living through his first. Nevertheless, Grofield finds his second profession fulfilling as well.
During the events of The Score, Grofield meets his future wife and acting partner, Mary Deegan, a hostage taken during the heist in that novel, who insists on leaving town with him. She is referenced in the Grofield novels, and features prominently in Lemons Never Lie. She helps him run his theater, and serves as his leading lady. Grofield is very happy with her, but feels no compunction about being with other women when he's away on a heist.
Unlike his frequent companion Parker, Grofield is a somewhat inconsistent character, and his adventures run the gamut from hard-boiled crime stories (Lemons Never Lie) to more fanciful, James Bond-style globetrotting and intrigue (The Damsel, The Dame, and The Blackbird). Grofield also differs significantly from Parker in that he can be friendly, chatty and gregarious in all types of company — but, similar to Parker, Grofield does not hesitate to use brutal violence (when necessary) in the furtherance of his goals.
Grofield is not mentioned in any of the eight Parker novels after Butcher's Moon, and we do not learn whether he's dead, imprisoned, or has simply retired from heisting.
- The Score (1964, aka Killtown), a novel in Westlake's Parker series
- The Handle (1966, aka Run Lethal), a novel in Westlake's Parker series
- The Damsel (1967)
- The Dame (1969)
- The Blackbird (1969) — First chapter shared with Slayground (below)
- Lemons Never Lie (1971)
- Slayground (1971), a novel in Westlake's Parker series. Grofield appears only briefly.
- Butcher's Moon (1974), a novel in Westlake's Parker series
Grofield is mentioned in passing in the Parker novel The Sour Lemon Score, but does not appear.
- In The Hot Rock (1970), the first of the Dortmunder series (written by Westlake under his real name) the character of Alan Greenwood is a charming ladies' man, sometime actor and professional thief ... and Greenwood plans to change his name to Alan Grofield after Dortmunder and company break him out of jail (p. 233). This, however, is simply an in-joke for Westlake/Stark fans; this isn't really the same Grofield that appears in the Parker novels. A later appearance by Greenwood in the 1977 Dortmunder novel Nobody's Perfect shows that Greenwood did NOT change his name, and became a very successful television actor. Grofield himself despised television, and deliberately avoided any and all offers to work in the medium.
Since The Hot Rock was originally going to be a Parker novel, Westlake probably intended the earlier version of Grofield to be in it, and then adapted him into a similar yet very different character once he realized a comic Parker novel wouldn't work.
Bibliography from Donald Westlake's Web site.
- Web site devoted to the Parker novels, with a special section devoted to Grofield. Retrieved 30 August 2018.