The Score

"The Score" by Donald Westlake

The late Donald Westlake was an acclaimed and prolific author, and a master of his genre. Several of his books were adapted into films, and his screenplay for "The Grifters" received an Oscar nomination for best screenplay. In 1993 he was named a Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America, which is the society's highest honor. Writing as Richard Stark he created a wonderful series of crime novels and a remarkable anti-hero, the career criminal Parker.

Parker is a professional thief, calculating and ruthless, yet possessing a strong ethical, if not moral, sense. A brute of a man, yet attractive to the ladies, who never kills as an easy way out; only when strictly necessary. He lives well, spending his off time in the resort hotels of Miami.  And he pays his income tax, using a string of "investments" under an alternate name in order to keep free of entanglements with the law. 

Illustrator Darwin Cooke is one of the most distinct and creative artists working in comics today. An award winning cartoonist, his work for DC on "The New Frontier" helped redefine the superheroes of the Justice League for a new generation of comic book fans. Now, taking Stark's work as a starting point, Cooke has adapted several of the books into comic book form, bringing new life to Parker and the motley band of criminals with whom he works.

Cooke has produced three books in his "Richard Stark's Parker" series so far.  His first two books, "The Hunter," and "The Outfit," cover the first three Parker novels. His latest book, "The Score," is an adaptation of the fifth book in the series.  

"The Score" finds Parker and his men looking at a big job: Robbing an entire town, the mining community of Copper Canyon, North Dakota. Literally set into a canyon, with a copper mine at the rear of the town and only one way in or out, Parker and his gang plan a brazen and ambitious heist. Go in at midnight, take the mine's payroll, rob every safe in the little town and be long gone before morning. Of course, things may not turn out exactly as planned, but with a potential take of over a quarter of a million dollars, the game is on. 

Cooke's retro art style is perfect for the Parker series, which begins in the late 1960s. Combine that with Stark's terse, no nonsense prose, and the result is a match made in comic book heaven. Fast paced and engaging, with sense of suspense and filled with a cast of entertaining characters on both sides of the law, these books illustrate the power of comics for storytelling, a medium that is too often, at least in the United States, dismissed as "just for kids." But "The Score" is not a comic book for kids, and readers may soon find themselves wanting to read the original Parker novels as well.

--Kris E., Headquarters

 

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