Tyson Adams

Putting the 'ill' back in thriller

Archive for the tag “Parker”

Book review: Richard Stark’s Parker by Darwyn Cooke




Richard Stark's Parker: Slayground
Richard Stark’s Parker Series by Darwyn Cooke

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“Please…they’ll kill me.”
“I’ll kill you…worry about me.”

A long time ago Donald Westlake (aka Richard Stark) imagined an imposing figure with large hands storming over the bridge into New York. Who was he? Why was he so pissed off? Who was intending to kill? And so was born Parker.

Fast forward past 24 novels, 8 film adaptations, and countless impersonators and homages, and we come to this graphic novel series by Darwyn Cooke. I’m not a fan of most of the film adaptations of the Parker novels as they don’t seem to understand the material – although Payback – Straight up: The Director’s Cut was pretty close to getting it right. But Cooke did understand the material.

This series didn’t just adapt the novels to the graphic novel format, it improved upon them. The artwork especially captured the grit of the original stories. This was done without compromising on the story, remaining very faithful to the originals.

I have previously read The Hunter, The Outfit, and Slayground, and managed to get my hands on an Omnibus edition to read The Score and re-read the others. It was a treat. At the end of Slayground is a short adaptation of The Seventh, a novella I have previously read. Cooke managed to capture much of the story with just a few panels on a handful of pages. I think this short work is emblematic of the skilful artwork and storytelling Cooke has brought to these adaptations.

Unfortunately both Cooke and Westlake are not longer with us. Just as there will be no more Parker novels, there will be no more graphic novel adaptations by Cooke. It is a pity.

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Book Review: The Seventh by Richard Stark aka Donald Eastlake

The Seventh (Parker, #7)The Seventh by Richard Stark
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Parker is not a man to be messed with. When it comes to setting the record straight, Parker does it. That is pretty much the plot and action from this great book. Also, this may be the earliest mention I have noted of gay characters in a novel. I’m sure I’ve read earlier examples, but I couldn’t bring any to mind. So despite the criticisms of Eastlake’s Parker series for misogyny, he may have actually been ahead of the times with some issues.

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Book Review: The Hunter by Richard Stark

I know, another book review and none of my usual wit and original material. Bear with me, I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately to make up for the fact I’m back at work. Christmas holidays are always too short.

The Hunter: A Parker NovelThe Hunter: A Parker Novel by Richard Stark
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I like gritty, unless we are talking sandwiches. The crime noir genre really is all about gritty and Parker is the quintessential character embodying this.

Once again I’m late to the bandwagon. Clearly Australia doesn’t have enough German and Japanese influences to have clear bandwagon schedules. Or maybe it is just me, but I prefer to blame others for my failings, like many great men before me. There was a point here about being late…. Oh yes, Richard Stark – aka Donald Westlake – and his Parker character are not new entities, thus my reading of my first Parker novel is probably well overdue.

The reason I came to this series was two-fold. The first was I had recently watched the director’s cut of Mel Gibson’s Payback. The director’s cut was much more faithful to the source material than the original version, despite being made more friendly to a wider audience. The second reason was that I have also been reading a lot of Ed Brubaker’s graphic novels, such as Criminal. At the back of each edition of Criminal there are essays on crime movies and books that started and were highlights of the genre. The Parker series caught my attention for this reason.

Needless to say, I can’t argue with history, this is a good book. Actually I could argue with history, as it is generally perspective based rather than objectively measured, but that is just the science nerd in me, rearing its ugly head. In my perspective though, the Parker series is well worth getting into.

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