Thursday, August 06, 2009

Books: Parker and Parker

The Hunter (Richard Stark's Parker, #1) by Darwyn Cooke (Illustrator) This is the first graphic novel adaptation of the great Parker crime series by Richard Stark (aka Donald Westlake) and it makes for a fascinating comic, adapted and illustrated by Darwyn Cooke. Shot in the gut and left for dead by his wife after a heist, master criminal Parker struggles with the law and the mob to come to New York City with one rage fueled thought on his mind: revenge. After dealing with the wife, Parker looks to take the mob for everything he can get. One thing is sure - the New York underworld has never met a man quite like Parker. Parker is one of my favorite characters in all of crime fiction, her's the ultimate noir anti-hero, and I was concerned about how well he would translate into graphic form. Very well as it turns out. Cooke illustrates in a retro format that is very appealing and indicative of early 1960's New York City. Parker is drawn as a detached square-jawed figure, cloaked in shadows. Part criminal genius, part brooding thug. Regardless, this is a very successful work, Stark's story is welded perfectly to the Cooke's artwork and isn't altered or compromised in any way. Fans of crime fiction and the Stark/Westlake canon in particular will feel right at home here. This is a fine adaptation and hopefully this series will continue at regular intervals.
The Man With the Getaway Face by Richard Stark After master criminal Parker runs afoul with the New York mob he decamps to Nebraska to have a crooked surgeon give him a new face. He then heads for New Jersey where he plans for an armored car heist. Complications arise as the surgeon is murdered and Parker is implicated as a suspect and one of the crooks planning the heist has plans for the loot that do not involve Parker. The thing I enjoyed most about this book is that all of the action for the armored car heist takes place in the are where I currently live, with Parker driving the roads and visiting the towns I see every day. Stark's (aka Donald Westlake) noir writing style is pared to the bone and a joy to read. Parker is the ultimate tough-guy with brains and an iron will. Things drift strangely toward the end of of the book as perspective shifts to another character for a while, but it doesn't damage the narrative. The Parker series is a joy to read and these re-releases from Chicago University press are quite nice with stylish covers.