Chris Ryall revealed the first preview for Darwyn Cooke’s 2012 adaptation of Richard Starker’s The Score the other day. As expected, it’s a great image, well in line with the other novels Cooke has done thus far. The Score is a good novel. Not my favorite–if I had to rank them, it’d probably go 1) The Hunter 2) The Outfit and 3) Butcher’s Moon–but it definitely rates. The hook alone makes it worth reading, really. “Parker gets a posse up and robs an entire town. And then things start exploding.
This is a book with lots of Alan Grofield, too. Grofield is easily the best supporting character in these novels. He’s a thespian slash thief, and each of his interests informs the other. He pulls heists to keep his theater going, and he tends to think of his jobs as being excerpts from exciting films. He’s suave, but he’s all about his business. He’s not unlike Lupin III or Gambit in certain ways, to be honest, which is probably part of the attraction. He really enjoys acting and stealing, and that makes him an incredibly enjoyable character to read. There’s this great bit in Butcher’s Moon where he takes up with this librarian who thinks she’s too big for the town she’s in that’s just wonderful, a sublime mix of Grofield being able to spot a type, adjust to that type, and then lose interest as soon as he gets focused on the actual job at hand. He’s a romantic, but he knows how and when to turn it off.
Here’s a couple of bits from that chapter in Butcher’s Moon:
“Very nice library you have here,” Grofield said.
The girl walking through the stacks ahead of him turned her head to twinkle over her shoulder in his direction. “Well, thank you,” she said, as though he’d told her she had good legs, which she had.
They went through a section of reading tables, all unoccupied. “You don’t seem to get much of a business,” he said. She gave a dramatic sigh and an elaborate shrug. “I suppose it’s all you can expect from a town like this,” she said.
Oh ho, thought Grofield, one of those. Self-image: a rose growing on a dungheap. A rose worth plucking? “What other attractions are there in a town like this?” he asked.
“Hardly anything. Here we are.” A small alcove held a battered microfilm reader on a table, with a wooden chair in front of it. Smiling at it, Grofield said, “Elegant. Very nice.”
She smiled broadly in appreciation, and he knew she knew they were artistic soulmates. “You should see the room with the LPs,” she said.
He looked at her, unsure for just a second, but her expression told him she hadn’t after all been suggesting a quiet corner in which they could bump about together. The idea, in fact, hadn’t occurred to her; she was really a very simple straightforward girl, appropriate to the town and the library.
The girl was on the lookout for him, and came tripping out from behind the main desk as he was going by. She gave violent hand signals to attract his attention, and when he stopped she hurried over and whispered, “It turns out I’m free tonight after all.”
She’d broken her date; headache, no doubt. Feeling vaguely sorry for the young man, and both irritated and guilty toward the girl, Grofield said, “That’s wonderful.”
It was Tucker who got me to finally pick up Butcher’s Moon. I read something like thirteen Parker novels in a shot a couple years ago, so I’d been on a bit of a break, but his review got me back on the horse. I had no idea that Slayground got a sequel, and I love that book. It was my #3 before I read Butcher’s Moon.
University of Chicago Press is continuing their Richard Stark reprint series with three Grofield novels in April. In order: The Damsel, The Dame, and The Blackbird. I’m looking forward to reading them.