Even slowly savoring the images, this is an hour's delight, an icy tumbler of gin on a snowday.
3 stars for the story, 'though (as my pals brian and Greg have been arguing) you sink into Stark not for a given novel but for the mastery of the series. (Having just re-read Hammett's Red Harvest
, it's clear: no one is as good as Hammett. But Stark is so lucidly brutal, and shatters timelines with such mad yet calm expertise, that you begin to realize: not many are as good as Stark.)
5 stars for Parker. Tough guys? Parker makes Bruce Willis look like Kenny G. Stark references Jack Palance as a visual inspiration, but I always see Lee Marvin. Either way, oversized knuckles, no smiles, and fuck the wisecracks. Talking's for taxmen and tea drinkers.
4 stars for Cooke--whose on-going project to do the whole Parker series is looking to be an epic graphic feast. The first captured the tone in sharp lines and blue shadows; the second begins to exploit other kinds of forms and fun, incorporating some of the flashbacks as a crime magazine excerpt, or a series of jobs envisioned in different styles. I look forward to the next.