And Then I Read: RICHARD STARK’S PARKER, SLAYGROUND

ParkerSlaygroundImage © Darwyn Cooke, Estate of Donald E. Westlake and IDW.

I generally prefer character driven stories over plot-driven ones, but there are exceptions. Certain kinds of thrillers, mysteries and crime stories with intricate plots that play out like clockwork revealing one clever turn after another, have their own special appeal, and this is one of those. It’s the fourth Parker adaptation by Darwyn Cooke, and he’s found the subject and series just right for him, clearly. The art is deceptively simple, in two colors: black and pearly blue-gray for most of the book, with a short section in black and orange at the end. It’s redolent of the 1950s, even though it takes place in 1969, but in an old-fashioned amusement park closed for the winter. Parker has been part of a armored car robbery that went bad, ending in a getaway car crash, but he’s escaped into the park with a large bag of cash. Trouble is, both police and local gangsters saw him go in, and Parker soon discovers there’s no other way out than over the front gate. With apparent calm resolution he sets about preparing the “slayground” for one-man combat. You know you’re in for a clever plot when you get to the fold-out map of the park, and it doesn’t disappoint. There’s little character development in this volume, the least of the series so far, but it doesn’t matter, you’ll keep turning the pages to see what Parker has planned for his opponents next.

Recommended.

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