After taking a kind of vacation in Slayground, Parker gets back to work in Plunder Squad, and it is, as always, the kind of book that Starklake does best: a slice of life from the career thief.Whereas Slayground was a set piece, Plunder Squad is tangle of events from the ongoing story of Parker’s criminal career. And it is, as well, the clearest evidence you could want that Parker is a pure sociopath: Any sane person would work in a McDonald’s rather than deal with Parker’s problems. Grade: A-
Lord of the Flies as formally organized competition: In a Japan-like dictatorship, 42 fifteen-year-old classmates are forced to play a killing game till one of them remains. Each kid is issued a bag of supplies—including one weapon, which could be anything from an Uzi to a fork—and they are turned loose on an island, where they will complete the competition or all be killed. The 2009 English-language edition of Koushun Takami’s Battle Royale features a newly corrected translation, interviews with the author and with the director of the film version, and a foreword by Max Allan Collins in which he makes a fair case for himself as the world’s coolest dad. These bonuses in some measure compensate for the novel’s weak dénouement, which culminates in perhaps the lamest final page in the history of the printed word. Grade: C+
The best Grofield novel earns its status as the best Grofield novel by being the Grofield novel that is most like a Parker novel:The Sour Grofield Scorewith minimal opportunities for Actor Alan to play the wiseass. Grade: B+
A: Excellent. I intend to read it again. B: Good. I might read it again. C: So-so. I didn't mind reading it. D: Bad. I resented reading it. F: Atrocious. I finished it only because I'm compulsive that way.