Saturday, September 13, 2014

Slayground by Richard Stark

(pb; 1969, 1971, 2010: fourteenth novel in the Parker series.  Introduction by Charles Ardai.)

From the back cover:

"The hunter becomes prey, as a heist gone sour and Parker finds himself trapped in a shuttered amusement park, besieged by a bevy of local mobsters.  There are no exits from Fun Island.  Outnumbered and outgunned, Parker can't afford a single miscalculation.  He's low on bullets - but, as anyone who's crossed his path knows, that doesn't mean he's defenseless."


One of the many things I appreciate about the Parker novels is how Stark changes up the elements (structure, characters, tones, etc.) from book to book, while maintaining the overall qualitative elements that make this character-progressive series so great - e.g., in the last Parker outing, Deadly Edge, much of the book was about Parker's relationship with Claire (when they weren't fighting and evading those villainous amateurs); in Slayground, Claire is generally mentioned but not seen, and most of the action takes place in the amusement park that could easily become Parker's last battlefield. . . it's just him and the worse guys.  Not even Alan Grofeld, one of Parker's semi-regular heistmates - who's seen briefly in the beginning of Slayground - gets much "air time" (though Grofeld's post-crash fate is shown in the side-series novel The Blackbird).

Like all the preceding Parker novels, Slayground is an excellent, waste-no-words crime thriller with a consistently compelling anti-hero: this, also, is worth owning.

Followed by Plunder Squad.


Slayground  was released stateside as a film in February 1984.  The film was directed by Terry Bedford from a screenplay by Trevor Preston.

Peter Coyote played Stone (cinematic stand-in for Parker).  Mel Smith played Terry Abbatt.  Billie Whitelaw played Madge.  Phil Sayer played Costello.  Bill Luhrs played Joe Sheer (a character who was killed in the sixth Parker book The Jugger).  Clarence Felder played Orxel.  Ned Eisenberg played Lonzini.  David Hayward played Laufman.

Side-note:  This film references Point Blank (based on Stark's first Parker novel The Hunter) and the James Bond film The Man with the Golden Gun.

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