A Crime Filled Reading List Tangent—Mainlining Richard Stark’s ‘Parker’ Series

So, one thing led to another and I may have read four Parker books instead of just the one I planned on for May.

Now, in my defense, some of the other books I wanted to read had wait-lists with the library… and also, they’re all around only 200 pages, so they’re quick reads.

And they’re everything I thought they’d be—the only surprising thing is how unintentionally funny Parker is; throughout all the books Parker is constantly interacting with people who want to be around him, want to work with him, want his attention, want to hire him—and he just wants to be left alone. He wants to plan his job, do the job, not get double crossed, and then go off alone to live off his take. And that never happens.

I had only ever read the first couple volumes of Darwyn Cook’s incredible graphic novel adaptations, and seen the film versions of “The Hunter”, ‘Point Blank’ with Lee Marvin, and ‘Payback’ with Mel Gibson (which Point Blank’s director once remarked read like a script him that Lee Marvin had thrown out of his window in fury at its awfulness, and that a young Mel Gibson must have been passing by, and picked it up.)

After enjoying all these adaptations I’ve been loving actually getting to dig into the originals.

Rabbit Holes and Reading Lists

I’ve been a little behind filling out my reading checklists, mostly because I’ve been having a hard time reading or listening to books and really concentrating on what’s happening.

Two of the books I’ve read this month, “The Thin Man” and “Eight Perfect Murders” I’ve had to go back and listen to chapters over and over.

Finishing a book is a little difficult when you have to reread a chapter six times before it sinks in.

And it wasn’t the books themselves either—true, I didn’t care much for “The Thin Man”, I mentioned that the other day. But “Eight Perfect Murders” was fantastic and I highly recommend it for anyone looking for a well plotted, well paced mystery.

Not only did it revolve around a great list of thrillers (and their film or stage adaptations) that would keep any reader busy for a while, but in general it would make anyone who loves books want to dive right into a used bookstore and stay there for a few days.

Getting over (or trying to) my mental reading block I’ve at least filled out my May checklist. I also have plenty of backups of course, because only amateurs bring just enough books.

Of course, I’ve already gone down a detective fiction rabbit hole as I tend to do lately, and my list might be a little shot.

That’s ok though, a few of the titles I have on here might not be available through my library for several weeks, so I have enough time to read a bunch of Richard Stark’s ‘Parker’ series and maybe even read Raymond Chandler’s “The Big Sleep” back-to-back with Robert Kroese’s “The Big Sheep”.

I assume that’s how Chandler intended it to be read, right?

Follow me on Goodreads to see what else I’m reading or interested in, or to give me some suggestions from what you’re reading…

Reading Dashiell Hammett’s “The Thin Man”

I recently finished Dashiell Hammett’s “The Thin Man”… but really didn’t love it. When I saw this one available through the library on my Libby app, I was excited for some classic detective noir, but that wasn’t what this ended up being. It’s been a while since I’ve read Hammett, and maybe my enjoyment of his “Maltese Falcon” is clouded by my love of the movie.

It may have been just a case of high expectations, but generally think I know what I’m getting into when it comes to classic detective fiction or a typical hard boiled story.

Still, I expected more out of Nora, since I knew a little about the eventual Nick & Nora movie franchise that started from this novel. I went into it thinking she’d be more of an equal player, moving Nick along by investigating herself, but she was barely more than decoration and someone for Nick to talk at.

But I’m also disappointed with the plot; it feels overly complicated—red herrings are necessary but everyone is someone else and everyone who’s working together is really working together with someone else. After a while the tangled web became unnecessarily convoluted.

Maybe it’s a product of its time as far as writing male and female characters, and maybe it’s an attempt by Dashiell Hammett at writing something a little lighter instead of hard boiled crime fiction that didn’t translate so well for me.

All that said, while it may have been a disappointing departure from what I expected from the author and genre, I’ll still read more Hammett.

Maybe I’ll like the movies better…

Follow me on Goodreads to see what else I’m reading…

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