Monday, February 27, 2017

Review: Richard Stark's Parker: Slayground

Richard Stark's Parker: Slayground Richard Stark's Parker: Slayground by Darwyn Cooke
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

2016 killed so many talented people that it got hard to keep track after a while, and one of its overlooked victims was Darwyn Cooke who died of cancer last spring. Knowing that, I held off on reading this for some time because it’s going to be the last time I get to crack open one of Cooke’s fantastic adaptations of the Parker series and get to enjoy his illustrated interpretations of one of my favorite crime fiction characters.

At least it ends on a high note with Cooke’s version of Richard Stark’s (a/k/a Donald Westlake) Slayground. After the heist of a armored car goes sideways Parker has to hole up in an amusement park that is shut down for the winter, but some local mobsters and dirty cops know that he’s in there with a bag full of cash so they go in after him, but they make the critical error of giving Parker enough time to prepare.

Essentially this is Die Hard in an amusement park done years before Bruce Willis walked into Nakatomi Plaza, and it’s a hoot. As with the other Parker novels that Cooke did he sets them in their original time frames and the artwork gives the whole thing a retro charm. Cooke also uses the format to do clever things like provide a fold-out illustrated map of the park like the one Parker uses to make his plans. Once again the graphic novels of Stark’s novels seem like stylish storyboards for a movie that sadly never got made. (Hint hint, Hollywood.) There’s a bonus with Cooke also doing a short version of The Seventh.

As with all great things I’m sad to see it end but happy I got to experience them. Cooke’s vision of Parker make for excellent companion pieces for fans of the books.

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