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Slayground: A Parker Novel (Parker Novels) Paperback – September 1, 2010

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Frequently Bought Together

Slayground: A Parker Novel (Parker Novels) + Deadly Edge: A Parker Novel (Parker Novels) + Plunder Squad: A Parker Novel (Parker Novels)
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Product Details

  • Series: Parker Novels
  • Paperback: 200 pages
  • Publisher: University Of Chicago Press; Reprint edition (September 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226770923
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226770925
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.3 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #261,777 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"A dimestore shiv of a book about what happens when corrupt cops tip off the mob about a car accident in which an incompetent wheelman flips a getaway car next to an amusement park called Fun Island. (Hint: Master thief/antihero extraordinaire Parker survives; a lot of other people die."
(Seth�Mnookin The Millions)

“Parker is refreshingly amoral, a thief who always gets away with the swag.”
(Stephen King Entertainment Weekly)

“Parker . . . lumbers through the pages of Richard Stark’s noir novels scattering dead bodies like peanut shells. . . . In a complex world [he] makes things simple.”
(William Grimes New York Times)

“Richard Stark’s Parker novels . . . are among the most poised and polished fictions of their time and, in fact, of any time.”
(John Banville Bookforum)

“Parker is a true treasure. . . . The master thief is back, along with Richard Stark.”
(Marilyn Stasio New York Times Book Review)

“Westlake knows precisely how to grab a reader, draw him or her into the story, and then slowly tighten his grip until escape is impossible.”
(Washington Post)

“Elmore Leonard wouldn’t write what he does if Stark hadn’t been there before. And Quentin Tarantino wouldn’t write what he does without Leonard. . . . Old master that he is, Stark does all of them one better.”
(Los Angeles Times)

“Whatever Stark writes, I read. He’s a stylist, a pro, and I thoroughly enjoy his attitude.”
(Elmore Leonard)

“Donald Westlake’s Parker novels are among the small number of books I read over and over. Forget all that crap you’ve been telling yourself about War and Peace and Proust—these are the books you’ll want on that desert island.”
(Lawrence Block)

“Richard Stark writes a harsh and frightening story of criminal warfare and vengeance with economy, understatement and a deadly amoral objectivity—a remarkable addition to the list of the shockers that the French call roman noirs.”
(Anthony Boucher New York Times Book Review)

"Parker is a brilliant invention. . . . What chiefly distinguishes Westlake, under whatever name, is his passion for process and mechanics. . . . Parker appears to have eliminated everything from his program but machine logic, but this is merely protective coloration. He is a romantic vestige, a free-market anarchist whose independent status is becoming a thing of the past."
(Luc Sante New York Review of Books)

"I wouldn't care to speculate about what it is in Westlake's psyche that makes him so good at writing about Parker, much less what it is that makes me like the Parker novels so much. Suffice it to say that Stark/Westlake is the cleanest of all noir novelists, a styleless stylist who gets to the point with stupendous economy, hustling you down the path of plot so briskly that you have to read his books a second time to appreciate the elegance and sober wit with which they are written."
(Terry Teachout Commentary)

"If you're a fan of noir novels and haven't yet read Richard Stark, you may want to give these books a try. Who knows? Parker may just be the son of a bitch you've been searching for."
(John McNally Virginia Quarterly Review)

"The University of Chicago Press has recently undertaken a campaign to get Parker back in print in affordable and handsome editions, and I dove in. And now I get it."
(Josef Braun Vue Weekly)

"Whether early or late, the Parker novels are all superlative literary entertainments."
(Terry Teachout Weekly Standard)

“The UC Press mission, to reprint the 1960s Parker novels of Richard Stark (the late Donald Westlake), is wholly admirable. The books have been out of print for decades, and the fast-paced, hard-boiled thrillers featuring the thief Parker are brilliant.”
(H. J. Kirchoff Globe and Mail)

From the Publisher

4 1.5-hour cassettes --This text refers to the Audio Cassette edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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See all 29 customer reviews
Parker is trapped not only by crooked cops, but the bad guys as well.
This book is also one of the favorites of Darwyn Cooke who has been adapting several of the Parker books into graphic novel form.
S. Rudge
Can't wait to read the rest of the series but his books do mostly stand on their own.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By sweetmolly on October 28, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This one is Super-Parker. I am in awe of Stark's (Donald Westlake) skills at placing the entire action in a closed-for-the-season amusement park with only one exit. Parker is trapped not only by crooked cops, but the bad guys as well. What a kaleidoscope of rides, color and strange machinery! Yet it is all aslant. Rather than crowds and summertime weather, it is empty, cold and bleak.
The tension never lets up. Will the bad guys find Parker's stash? Will they corner him? Can he pull another trick out of his bag? Will the scaffolding hold?
I am always baffled when people complain of lack of characterization in Parker novels. To me, the beauty is being right inside Parker's head when he meticulously plans his heists, revenge, and plans. True, we never read of honor, sensitivity, introspection, and love for the very good reason Parker possesses none of these traits. I always think Parker would be a totally successful CEO of a giant corporation if he had taken up another line of work.
"Slayground" is vintage Parker, hard-boiled, violent and as perfectly crafted as a fine watch.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Dave Wilde on August 4, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
The title "Slayground" is a takeoff from the phrase "Amusement Playground." It is the fourteenth Parker novels, following "Deadly Edge" and preceding "Plunder Squad." "Lemons Never Lie" comes between "Slayground" and "Plunder Squad," but that is really one of the four Grofields, not a Parker. "Slayground" is the flip side to the Grofield novel "Blackbird." Parker, Grofield, and another guy pull off an armored car heist and the car flips over in the getaway process. Grofield ends up in the hospital where he is recruited by the CIA in "Blackbird." Parker, however, gets away and hides inside an amusement park, that is shut down for the winter. In front of the park as Parker makes his entrance, a pair of hoodlums is busy paying off a pair of cops. After hearing a radio report of the armored car heist, a crack team of professional hoods enter the park to hunt down Parker and the $70,000 he is reportedly carrying with him. There is but one entrance and one exit and the hoods can keep calling in reinforcements while Parker has but one gun and a limited number of bullets.

This is quite different than most other Parker novels as it really doesn't center around the planning and execution of a heist. This is more like a horror movie with the serial killer chasing the teens around the funhouse, popping out at the oddest moments and creating general havoc Parker-style. It is a solid, quick read that is about as fun to read as any crime novel ever has been. No, the plot is not all that complicated, but it doesn't need to be with Parker ingeniously improvising as he darts from one amusement park ride to another. How many hoods does it take to take down Parker? Gotta wonder.

Giving this one high marks not on its depth and complexity, but on the absolute amount of fun and enjoyment this was to read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Sam Quixote TOP 1000 REVIEWER on June 10, 2013
Format: Paperback
I love the Darwyn Cooke comic book adaptations of the Parker novels but have never read one in the original prose-only format. Slayground jumped out at me as the place to start partly because that's the next one Cooke's adapting and I want to see the difference between the original and the adaptation, but also because of the delicious setup.

Parker is a master thief who, alongside two accomplices, one of them his longtime partner Grofield, knocks over an armored car and makes off with $73k. But things go pear-shaped as the unreliable driver crashes the getaway car. Parker is the only one conscious in the wreck so he grabs the loot and runs for cover - in a nearby amusement park! Except some gangsters and crooked cops are nearby doing a deal and see the suspicious figure of Parker toss a satchel over the fence and jump in after it just as dispatch alerts the cops to a recent and nearby robbery. Trapped inside the amusement park (which is shut for the winter), Parker must lay out traps in order to survive from the cops and gangsters preparing to storm the park, kill him, and take his money. Game on!

It's a great setup, right? Buuuuuuut... I didn't love the book like I thought I would. Westlake is a fine writer - his prose is lean, his dialogue is crisp, and he writes at a decent clip. No wonder Elmore Leonard found him such an inspiration, Leonard's style is clearly influenced by this earlier master crime writer. But nothing really happens in the first half of the book. Sure, we get the burst of action that comes with the initial robbery but once Parker's in the fairground? The cops/gangsters stand around waiting for their group to gather while Parker wanders about discovering his surroundings, making plans, setting traps - all fine, but boy, is it boring to read!
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Joe Kenney on December 27, 2002
Format: Paperback
Beverly Hills Cop 3 is also known as "Die Hard in an amusement park," due to the climactic battle in which Eddie Murphy, holed up in a deserted amusement park, takes on a tide of villains. I don't know if the filmmakers realized it, but this is the same plot as Richard Stark's Slayground, published in 1971.
The narrative is as linear as an old pulp novel. The book opens with an armored truck robbery that quickly goes wrong. Parker, alone, escapes with a satchel of money by climbing the fence of a nearby amusement park, which is closed for the winter. Parker walks right into a meeting between a local mob boss and a few crooked cops. Parker escapes into the park, only to find there's no other way out. And he can't just leave, because he knows those mobsters out there will be waiting for him. He also knows that soon enough they'll realize he's the robber being mentioned in the news reports, the robber who has seventy grand on him. So Parker sets up as many traps as he can in the park. That night the mobsters come in after him, and what follows is a nail-biting thriller that would be fit for the screen, if not for its single-track mind and lack of subplot. It's survival of the fittest all the way, as Parker does whatever he can to [detour] anyone who comes after him, and escape with his life.
The novel itself doesn't start out so linear, as first we follow Parker through his botched robbery, and then we go back to before the robbery, and meet each of the mobsters and crooked cops. Once these pleasantries are out of the way, it's straight-up action and adventure time. Parker is his usual cold, calculating, monosyllabic self, and the assortment of mobsters and cops after him are each well-drawn and memorable.
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