I had to read this one fast and finished it in two days but it was a doozy. Donald Westlake (here writing as Richard Stark) never disappoints. This book is part of his series about the master thief, Parker. In Slayground, Parker is in a heist gone bad and must flee into closed for the winter amusement park where he is pursued by mobsters and corrupt cops. That's all you need for a great book. Brilliant killing machine trapped in an amusement park, it writes itself! I liked that this this book got straight into the action. Only a few pages are spent on the robbery and blown escape before Parker is trapped in the park.
Westlake's great at writing description. This book has long passages where Parker explores the amusement park, thinks about his situation or gets into fights and it's always easy to see what Westlake is trying to show and is never dull. You always feel the cold. I think this is about the toughest kind of writing and it always impresses me.
Parker is not the main character's real name and the action takes place in a fictional, never identified city. This gives the story a feeling it could be happening someplace we know, just not quite here. I wish more writers used fictional locations, I think they can make books more interesting than spewing out information to get the feel of an actual location. That was another problem with my book so maybe that's why I like Donald Westlake so much, he has the solution for all my problems.
An interesting sidelight is the opening chapter was recycled for another Stark/Westlake book called The Blackbird. In it we find out what happens to Grofield, another member of Parker's gang involved in the heist. Grofield is also the main character in Lemons Never Lie, a Westlake recently republished by Hard Case.