Tag Archives: Parker

Parker on the screen #4: Slayground (1983)

SLAYGROUND, Peter Coyote, 1983, TM and copyright ©Universal Film Corp. All rights reserved

Next in my series on Don Westlake aka Richard Stark’s criminal character of Parker on the screen is the 1983 film, Slayground.

Slayground is based on the 1971 book of the same name, the 14th instalment in the first cycle of Westlake’s Parker series. I am going to put my cards on the table up front and say that while Slayground is among my least favourite of that earlier tranche of Parker novels, I think is film, however, is very good. It has very little to do with the book, but as I said early in this series, I’m not going to get hung up on how much the films adhere to their source material.

The novel depicts what happens after Parker and his criminal associates are forced to to hire a second-rate wheelman for an armoured car heist they are planning. The job goes wrong and Parker narrowly escapes the law with $74,000 from the robbery. He stumbles across an amusement park called Fun Island, closed for the winter, and figures it is as good a place as any to hide until the heat from the job dies down. A major hitch arises when a couple of corrupt cops make Parker entering the park.… Read more

Parker on the screen #1: Mise a Sac (1967)

With Melbourne is back in Covid-19 lockdown, I have a bit more time than usual on my hands, so I’ve decided to start a project I have been meaning to undertake for a while now – to watch and review all the screen adaptations of Richard Stark aka Donald Westlake’s crime fiction character, the master thief known as Parker.

Regular readers of this site will be well versed in my adoration for Westlake in general and his character, Parker, in particular. I wrote about what it was that so fascinated me about Parker in some detail on Pulp Curry back in 2014. And my second novel Gunshine State is an Australian homage of to the Parker series.

A few ground rules for what I intend to be an occasional series. I’ll tackle every film, except for John Boorman’s Point Blank (1967), which I have already written about in some detail here. This means: Made in U.S.A (1966), Mise a Sac (1967), The Split (1968), The Outfit (1973), Slayground (1983), Payback (the director’s cut – 1999), and Parker (2013). That said, I will not do them in the order they appeared. While Made in U.S.A is the first film to be based on a Westlake book (although the adaptation is very tenuous), I’ve had issues getting a copy to watch, so I’ll tackle Mise a Sac first.… Read more

Being influenced by your favourite crime writer

As regular readers of this site will know, my second novel, Gunshine State, has recently been re-released.

To mark the occasion, the fine folks at my publisher, Down and Out Books, asked me to stop by their site and say a few works about the book.

Gunshine State has a number of literary influences. I am a big fan of the Crissa Stone books by Wallace Stroby and Australian writer Garry Disher’s Wyatt books. But my most obvious inspiration—and probably my desert island series—is the character of the master thief Parker, created by Richard Stark aka Donald Westlake.

For my post for the Down and Out Books site, I decided to talk about the very fine line between being influenced by your favourite crime writers and falling into a straight out pastiche or imitation. Doing the former without plunging into latter is something I was very conscious of, as I was writing Gunshine State – my attempt to do an Australian take on the heist gone wrong story – and the follow up, which I am currently in the midst of, Orphan Road.

The piece is available to read in full here.

And, if you are after a good weekend read, Gunshine State is available in all formats here.Read more

Book review: Jack Waters

Jack Waters is the latest book by the Brooklyn based crime author Scott Adlerberg. I make no bones about being a fan of Adlerberg’s work. One thing I particularly like is how, as an author, he is not content just to keep hitting the same note in his work.

His debut, Spiders and Flies, dealt with the predatory ambitions of a bored American fugitive on the lam in Martinque, towards a wealthy couple visiting their young daughter who is living on the island. It read like one of those exploitation crime films that were common in the eighties.

Graveyard Love switched gears completely, and delivered a giallo-style tale of a thirty five year old psychologically disturbed loner who lives with his highly strung artist mother, and his obsession with the mysterious red headed woman who regularly visits one of the crypts in the graveyard opposite their house.

In Jack Waters, Adlerberg continues his reinvention, penning an historical crime story about a rakish New Orleans schemer, the title character, whose one great passion in life is playing cards, and whose one major dislike is people who cheat. Water’s private code gets him into trouble when he kills a man for cheating, the son of a wealthy and influential Louisianan businessman.… Read more

Guest post: Tony Knighton – character arc or is crime fiction literature?

Today I’m thrilled to host a guest post by my friend, Tony Knighton, Philadelphia’s only fire fighting crime writer and, I mean, he really is a fire fighter. Tony has a new book out, Three Hours Past Midnight, via Crime Wave Press, also the publishers of my first novel, Ghost MoneyThree Hours Past Midnight is Tony’s second book. His first, was a terrific collection of short stories titled Happy Hour and Other Philadelphia. Three Hours Past Midnight is the story of a professional thief who teams with an old partner eager for one last score – a safe in the home of a wealthy Philadelphia politician. But they are not the only ones set on the cash. It’s on my Kindle. Read Tony’s guest post and then pick up a copy of Three Hours Past Midnight for yourself.

Take it away, Tony.

Andrew has graciously invited me to post an essay about my latest work Three Hours Past Midnight from Crime Wave Press. A novel, it is set in my hometown, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and features the un-named protagonist from an earlier story of mine, ‘Mister Wonderful’.

While speaking about the Richard Stark books and Stark’s master thief Parker, crime fiction writer Eryk Pruitt said, ‘The least interesting character in the Parker books is Parker’.… Read more