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Slayground (Parker #14)

4.2  ·  Rating Details ·  1,155 Ratings  ·  94 Reviews
The Wheel of Fortune turned and Parker figured his number had finally come up. An armored car heist had gone sour. His partners were dead or dying. He had escaped with the loot, but holing up in a deserted amusement park with only one exit had turned into a fatal mistake. Now the local mob and a couple of crooked cops were on their way in after the money...and the odds wer ...more
Paperback, 192 pages
Published January 17th 1991 by Allison & Busby (first published 1971)
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He leaned against the wall beside the window and watched the gates. Very soon now, the hunted was going to become the hunter.

After a botched armored car robbery (hint - when pulling a heist, make sure your wheelman is well vetted), Parker grabs the loot and heads for the nearest refuge - a closed-for-the-season amusement park. Before long, the place is surrounded by crooked cops and mobsters. They want the money, and they want Parker DEAD. Now it's Parker, with four bullets in his gun, versus fi
Jan 06, 2011 brian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
to hell with y'all and all your crummy new years resolutions: 'lose weight, stop smoking, go vegetarian (<--although, that you should do!), be more/less adventurous, etc...' boring. totally boring. my resolution: gonna read every one of richard stark's 'parker' novels this year. and they're all gonna be those lovely gorgeous knockout new U. of Chicago editions. y'know what... lemme throw a few more chips in the pot: i'm gonna read all the ones currently available - that's 15 of 'em - this mon ...more
I didn’t realize this for a long time but my first exposure to Parker was in the movie loosely based on this book starring Peter Coyote that ran on cable a lot in my teen years. I only vaguely remembered it, mainly for it’s use of George Thorogood’s Bad to the Bone in the early scenes of the movie. (Thank you for writing that song, George. If it weren’t for you, there would have been countless film and television scenes where we would have had no clue that the character was ’bad’ without your he ...more
Mar 26, 2013 Jim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
June 2017 Review: Rereading with a group. I'm surprised so much time has passed since I last listened to this. Parker is put into a seemingly impossible situation & the action never stops. The situation & solutions are very realistic, too. No superman antics. A lot of hard thought & patience punctuated by ruthless action.

My comments on Ardai's foreword still mostly stand, save that I liked it better.
I don't think Ardai did it on purpose. IIRC, he was asked to write something about
Dan Schwent
The armored car heist would have gone without a hitch if Parker hadn't been saddled with a second-rate driver. Now Parker's holed up in an amusement park that's shut down for the winter. Only mobsters and crooked cops are after the $73,000 Parker has from the heist and know where Parker is...

The non-standard Parkers are some of my favorites and this is one of them. We only get to see the aftermath of the heist. The rest is one long cat and mouse game involving the park's attractions between Park
Sep 11, 2011 Greg rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime-fiction
If you liked the movie Home Alone and could do without the comedy bits then you might be interested in trying Slayground, the fourteenth Parker novel by Richard Stark.

A relatively easy job just bungled by the poor driving of a second rate wheelman Parker knew he shouldn't have brought on to the job. Stuck near an amusement park as police arrive he jumps the fence to the park and finds himself stuck with only one possible exit and mobsters descending on the back looking to relieve him of the loo
The non-standard Parkers are not my fav type of a Parker book, i enjoy the heist planning,the build up,the betrayels and so on most. But this one was amazing,so different,such a thrill reading Parker stuck in an amusement park with mobsters chasing him,his 72 000 dollars.

Great sparse,lean prose as usual, makes me think of Hammett in the best Parker books.

Parker was shown not to be invincible in that he was weakened in his usual tough body by the weather,his other problems. I also liked how it w
Debbi Mack
Mar 17, 2009 Debbi Mack rated it really liked it
Shelves: thriller, suspense
The late Donald Westlake is another one of those authors who's been praised to skies (especially after his death) and whose work I've been meaning to check out--again.

I can't remember which Westlake book it was that I tried first--something with Dortmunder in it, I think. It had to be Dortmunder because that was his comic character and Westlake was trying so hard to be funny. Ha ha, I said, and put the book down without finishing it.

Then I read all those glowing post-mortems on Westlake's career
Jane Stewart
Wow!!!!! I was surprised and so impressed with what Parker did to outsmart these guys. It’s scary and suspenseful.

A normal person would be helpless, but not Parker. I read a lot, and I think I’m hard to surprise, but this one did it. This book is a great example showing how Parker is a brilliant strategist with keen insight into others.

I usually don’t like “first person” stories. This is an example of how rich a story can be when you don’t use first person, because you get inside others’ heads.
James Thane
Aug 27, 2011 James Thane rated it really liked it
This is the fourteenth entry in Richard Stark's excellent series about Parker, the amoral criminal whose carefully-laid plans almost always come undone because of some unforeseen accident or because of an act of carelessness by one of the other crooks involved in the plan. In this case, it's the getaway driver who screws everything up. This is not the driver that Parker would have prefered, but it's the driver that Parker had to settle for. And it's Parker who will now have to pay the price.

Mar 25, 2014 Stephen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Quick and very entertaining read about Parker trying to evade Mafia hoodlums in a fairground where there is only one exit and he has to improvise regarding weapons. 14th in the series but hardly any reference to previous books so fine to read as a standalone. How no-one has managed to make a decent movie of this, I don't know as the story seems to be ideal for that.

Having read the first three Parker books, I have skipped to book 14 and am going to read books 14 to 16 in sequence finishing off w
Jun 05, 2017 Harold rated it really liked it
Some what a departure from the previous novels. It's all about the unfortunate aftermath to what would have been an otherwise successful heist.Parker is trapped in an amusement park closed for the season. Needless to say - he survives to continue on in this excellent series. It's how he survives that makes this interesting and different.
May 22, 2016 Piker7977 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime-mystery
Cornered like a rat in a maze, Parker is stranded in a closed amusement park after an armored car robbery turns sour. Mobsters, thugs and half-assed cops are waiting to get one over on Parker but little do they know ... the hunters will be become the hunted.

Slayground is top notch. By maxing out creativity and fun in this entry, Stark (Westlake) hits a home run as this book is by far one of the most unique offerings in the series. Let's stop and think about it for a second ... a career criminal
Sep 28, 2011 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: noirboiled
I prefer to read novels knowing as little as possible about them going in, so Slayground represents a special achievement for me: I began reading the often-discussed, often-praised fourteenth Parker novel knowing absolutely nothing about it--I even managed to tune out the illustrations on the cover of the Chicago reprint (except for the always-present Big Gun). So, in that spirit, I'm not going to tell you anything about it, either.
Sam Quixote
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
Colin Sinclair
Mar 20, 2014 Colin Sinclair rated it it was amazing
A great story told with incredible economy. Sub 200 pages and Stark manages to cram in a complicated web of corrupt cops, an up-and-coming gangster, a mob boss, a platoon of hired guns and- stuck in the middle of it all- Parker, with a bag of stolen cash and no easy way out.

If you've seen the movie version of Slayground, with Peter Coyote as the Parker character, be aware that this is similar but different. No Mel Smith for a start. Still features a closed up funfair showdown though, with traps
In this claustrophobic tale, it is wintertime and yet another job goes wrong for Parker, who is forced to hole up with a satchel full of money in a closed amusement park to try and outwit his local mob pursuers, and eventually escape with his life, if not his money.

An easy read, though definitely not my favourite Parker book; kind of got fed up even before the end. This one also has the most instances of 'son of a bitch' and 'goddam' I've read in a while. I tell you, the mouths on those mobster
John Culuris
May 17, 2016 John Culuris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Most everyone’s consensus favorite as Parker novels go and I can see why. Trapped in a closed-for-the-season amusement park, Parker is hunted by a seemingly endless supply of killers. The environment allows for countless ways to outsmart and outmaneuver his adversaries. Very enjoyable but my favorite of the “classic” Parkers remains The Black Ice Score.
Oct 16, 2013 Sean rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, hardboiled
Another amazing Parker book. This one is all action.
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 hospit ...more
Serge Pierro
Nov 20, 2016 Serge Pierro rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Wow! If there ever was a book in the series thus far that should be made into a movie, this would be the one. This time we see Parker in a thriller in which he has to use his ingenuity to try and escape from an amusement park surrounded by Mafioso and crooked cops. I would consider this to be a non-standard Parker story, seeing as how the heist is only a couple of pages long and is only used as a setup for the rest of the book. Parker is pushed to the extreme and… well, you'll just have to read ...more
Jame DiBiasio
May 07, 2017 Jame DiBiasio rated it it was amazing
Shelves: crime-fiction
Parker quickly figures out the mob is going to come after him, and the cash, but the amusement park is a trap, with only one gate. The bulk of the story involves Parker taking on twenty goons inside the park.

There’s no question of Parker’s surviving. Richard Stark (Westlake) has painted him as a machine. He’s smarter and more ruthless than anyone else, so he’ll make it. No, the fun is in how. Westlake isn’t going to let Parker off easy.

Read my full review here:
John Hood
Jun 12, 2011 John Hood rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Bound: A Six Pack of Kickass

A Half Dozen More Heist Books from Richard Stark

SunPost Weekly August 5, 2010 | John Hood

Gotta luv the folks at University of Chicago Press. Not only have they decided to bring back Richard Stark’s belovedly badass Parker novels, but they’ve been doing so in sequence, with a niftily packed series that smacks back to the ’60s beginning and — Zeus-willing — won’t let up till its 21st century end.

The beginning, for those few who don’t know, was The H
Alex Gherzo
I was greatly anticipating Slayground, which is widely considered one of the very best Parker novels by fans. That may play a small role in why I was let down, but it's more the novel itself than anything else. I found it to be a lesser Parker caper, with a great setup that didn't amount to much. This time, Parker is part of an armored car robbery that falls apart during the escape when the getaway car crashes in a relatively deserted part of town. With his crew (including returning player Alan ...more
Jan 23, 2013 Mario rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review originally appeared on my blog: Shared Universe Reviews

Slayground is the fourteenth book in the Parker series written by Richard Stark. It is the first book I’ve ever read in the Parker series, not counting the comic adaptations by Darwyn Cooke. I picked this book instead of all the others for two simple reasons. I just read the adaptation of The Hunter, The Outfit, and The Score and I felt as though I was familiar enough with Parker and a handful of secondary characters to be able
Clark Hallman
Aug 22, 2012 Clark Hallman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime
Richard Stark was one of the many pseudonyms of Donald E. Westlake (1933-2008), who was a very prolific, and acclaimed, noir crime fiction writer. The Mystery Writers of America bestowed their Grand Master award on Westlake in 1993, and if Slayground is representative of the Westlake’s quality of writing and storylines he certainly deserved the Grand Master award. Slayground: A Parker Novel was first published in 1969 after Stark (Westlake) had published dozens of novels about the tough and dete ...more
Steve Isaak
Oct 22, 2014 Steve Isaak rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 m ...more
Michael Emond
Feb 27, 2012 Michael Emond rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I breezed through this one in three days. Like all Parker novels they are quick fun reads. I have become a big Parker fan over the last 2 years and have read 14 of 24 of the novels so far (The Outfit is my favourite so far). While none of them could be considered cerebral they are all a lot of fun to read. Parker is a no nonsense criminal who knows how to use both his brain and his hands to get himself out of a situation. I read Slayground because Darwyn Cooke (who is adapting the Parker novels ...more
Aug 04, 2010 Randy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Parker, Grofield, and a driver hit the armored car, taking away a good haul. It was a rush job, one normally Parker would have passed on, so the driver was a second rater. He was still trying to build up his cash reserves squirreled away around the country as he'd lost all he'd set up under his Charles Willis name(dead to him and therefor untouchable).

The driver was speeding to fast to get out of the area before the police converged and took a turn too fast, rolling the car several times in the
Debbie J
In Slayground, Parker's latest heist goes off without a hitch until the getaway, when an antsy cohort panics and flips their escape vehicle. Parker scrams with the loot before the coppers arrive while his unfortunate partners-in-crime face critical injury and arrest—or worse…

The thieving mastermind inadvertently gets trapped inside an amusement park, a dirty cop duo and an army of gun-toting “Outfit” henchmen on his tail. The tale contains a few harrowing moments: at one point Parker finds himse
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Pulp Fiction: * June 2017 - Slayground 16 26 4 hours, 15 min ago  
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Other Books in the Series

Parker (1 - 10 of 24 books)
  • The Hunter (Parker, #1)
  • The Man With The Getaway Face (Parker, #2)
  • The Outfit (Parker, #3)
  • The Mourner (Parker, #4)
  • The Score (Parker, #5)
  • The Jugger (Parker, #6)
  • The Seventh (Parker, #7)
  • The Handle (Parker, #8)
  • The Rare Coin Score (Parker, #9)
  • The Green Eagle Score (Parker, #10)

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