Slayground (1971)

Slayground by Richard Stark (AKA Donald Westlake)Parker jumped out of the Ford with a gun in one hand and the packet of explosives in the other. Grofield was out and running, too, and Laufman stayed hunched over the wheel, his foot tapping the accelerator.

Hiring a second-rate driver causes Parker all sorts of trouble when, after an armored-car heist, driver Laufman rolls the car. With Laufman and Grofield injured and unconscious, Parker makes his escape alone with the haul, but the only place around to hide out in is Fun Island, an amusement park closed for the winter. Unfortunately for Parker, corrupt cops receiving a payoff from the local syndicate see him entering the park with the money-filled satchel and figure out exactly what’s going on. There are no exits from Fun Island, so they guard the gate, organize a crew, and go in after Parker and the money.

Slayground opens as a variant of “The Most Dangerous Game,” but it gets much bigger than that when the local mob boss takes things personally. Parker has to shift constantly from hunter to hunted and back, and demonstrates once again that survival is his number one specialty.

Slayground is an understandable fan favorite, and a natural for a movie adaptation (blown opportunity). Parker always relies on his wits and ruthlessness, of course, but here it’s constant–once his antogonists enter the park, the tiniest slip will cost him his life so he’s got to approach perfection if he’s going to get out of this alive. And I know the song was written about James Bond, but nobody does it better.

shares its opening scene with the Alan Grofield novel, The Blackbird.

Slayground was selected as one of the 100 Must-Read Books for Men.

Known printings and cover gallery here

The movie based on Slayground

To The Blackbird, the Alan Grofield novel that precedes Slayground chronologically. (Most of the events in The Blackbird take place after Slayground due to Grofield’s hospital stay, but The Blackbird was published first.)

To Deadly Edge, the previous book in the Parker series

To Lemons Never Lie, the Alan Grofield novel that follows Slayground chronologically

To Plunder Squad, the next book in the Parker series