Monday, October 11, 2010

Marathon Man, Day 4: the Crunch

12:48 pm. Okay, I'm slightly behind for Day 4. But we'll get there.

12:53 pm. p 138. Apparently, "heeled" was an early 20th century phrase for "carrying a gun."

12:56 pm. p148. In order to keep someone properly gagged, one must remember not to just tie a bit of cloth around their mouth, but to first wad up some cotton or something and get them to put it in their mouth, then add the cloth. I'm not sure my life has been improved with this knowledge.

1:02 pm. p153. They've pulled one of those "twists" where the detective has figured out who the murder is, but isn't telling the reader. I suppose we have to wait to the traditional parlor scene, but it's really annoying.

1:19 pm. p 183. ...And that's a wrap. The book played fairly straight with the murderer; it makes sense, from the clues provided, and it did rely on a clue that wasn't there the first time Grofield interrogated the suspects. I had expected a cheat where a new character was introduced to have committed the murder, so it's nice that it stuck to the "rules" so to speak. There's some really disturbing sexual morality going on behind the scenes here. "The Dame" is killed essentially for her overactive libido, and the main other female is judged for being in a sexless rut, kept in place by her brother and a past experience where she got pregnant from a married man and had an abortion at seventeen--until the manly Grofield gets her over it. And he does so in the most callous way imaginable: "You're twenty-two now, aren't you? Isn't it time you got over it? You and your brother--emotional cripples. Your mind is girdled up tighter than Eva Milford's ass." Apparently, the message here is broads need tough love, and a real man to provide it. Anyway, one more to go. Back to Parker, with Breakout.

1:31 pm. It starts very in medias res. Due to someone else's error, Parker is finally caught by the police during a heist gone wrong.

1:33 pm. p 10. The cop is couching Parker's options for pleading in terms of game theory. Somehow, I don't think that happens very often.

1:36 pm. p14. There seems to be some social commentary going on regarding the state of the detention center. It actually reminds of Henry Fielding's Amelia , in that regard. You know, for the page-long reference.

1:46 pm. p31. Parker has started to plan for his next heist while on trial for his current one. He's tenacious, I'll give him that.

1:50 pm. p41. Stark's really playing up the "unnatural" aspect of prison. "It isn't a natural environment, this." "It isn't an environment. It's a body cast."

1:51 pm. p 44. There's an emphasis on racial difference as well; blacks and whites who aren't cellmates don't converse without drawing attention.

1:55 pm. p 53. This is a nice one: "Walter Jelinek was a man, but he looked like a car, the kind of old junker car that had been in some bad accidents so that now the frame is bent, the wheels don't line up any more, the whole vehicle sags to one side and pulls to that side, and the brakes are oatmeal. Half the original body is gone, the paint job is some amateur brushwork, and there's duct tape over the taillights. That was Walter Jelinek."

2:33 pm. p 97. Stark's changing up the perspective again, just as he did in The Score. We've had Williams' perspective--nervous, for being the only non-Caucausian in the escape group--and now Marcantoni, the other accomplice. And just like the other book, it serves to illustrate how mechanical, how in control Parker is.

2:41 p 105. One of the characters comments that he should be careful what he says on a cellphone; that and the motion sensors mentioned earlier are the only real evidence that this is set in the contemporary world. (Well, 2002, but close enough.) And The Score was definitely set in the 60s. Apparently, Parker ages in comic book time.

2:56 pm. p 116. Character sketch II: "Not for a second did Brenda doubt this was Mrs. Johnson-Ross. Tall, too blonde, she carried her just-a-little excess weight as though it was a fashion accessory she was pleased to own. She dressed in verticals, a long dark jacket open over a darker pantsuit with deep lapels, in turn over a blouse in two shades of vertical light blue stripes. The effect was to make the body fade away and emphasize the blonde-framed face, still puffy but still very good looking."

3:02 pm. p128. Until I started reading crime thrillers, I sometimes went days, even weeks at a time without anyone referring to anyone else as "that bird."

3:05 pm. p 135. A drug supplier commenting on his street dealer's abode: "You can take the boy out of the pisshole, but you can't take the pisshole out of the boy." And the command: "Leon, go hit that fool, like he was a TV wouldn't come into focus." I don't know how I feel about it the present day setting to be honest; scenes like this with drug dealers and references to DVDs really seem to contrast with the tone Stark is using. Although, like the Jelinek description, I do like all of the people seeing other people as objects, or machines.

3:10 pm. p 142. One of the criminals compares putting together a team of people who haven't worked together before to two parties getting to know each other during an engagement period. There's something interesting in the social contract nature of that simile.

3:17 pm. p 168. Stark mentions how Parker felt "something" was going to go wrong, and it did. I've of two minds about that; on the one hand, Parker doesn't seem the type to indulge in intuition and second guessing. On the other hand, it suggests a sort supernatural connection between Parker and the plot, which feels like it's been there all along.

3:22 pm. p 172. I do like where the plot's going right now, though. After a tunnel collapses during a heist, Parker and co are trapped in the place they broke into; the building designed to let no one in now won't let them out. It makes a nice juxtaposition with the earlier prison escape.

3:32 pm. p 202. One of the errant drug dealers looking to make good on the bounty on Parker and co's heads meets a bad end. Parker's comment: "He should have stuck to drugs." I think we can take that as a metacommentary on the "honor" associated with Parker's sort of crime in comparison to drug dealing and other "modern" forms of criminal recreation.

3:40 pm. P219. Interesting moral snafu: Parker's cohort's girlfriend has been snatched in connection to the crime, and the cohort expects Parker to help get her free--since he helped Parker escape prison, he feels Parker owes him. Now, Parker's just amoral enough not to feel any obligation, but he knows that if he doesn't help the guy, he may be trouble some time down the line. "Parker didn't collect the IOUs, neither the good ones nor the bad ones, but he knew he had to live among people with those tote boards in their minds." It's never Parker that's the problem, it's other people that are the problem.

4:03 pm. P 267. Nearing the end game now. And we're reading "a variant on the Stockholm Syndrome." It's a good thing their male captive can make a good sandwich. That's exactly the sort of can-do attitude I look for in my captives.

4:05 pm. p272. But when the going gets rough, neither of them consider taking long-term hostages. Practicality, or an "honor among thieves" kind of thing?

4:12 pm. P288. There's a nice, tense scene with the cop from earlier in the story. It feels a little coincidental for him to show up now, and he wasn't involved in enough of the story for the association to work fully, but it's doing a better job than I thought to connect everything together.

...And done. Huh. I dunno. It misses the high stakes of "The Hunter" and even the high concept of "The Score." And it's a little long to be an afternoon read. (Unless you're a masochist like yours truly.) I would have preferred something with a little more meat to it to end the marathon, but for what it was, there were some interesting bits, and interesting reflections on what it means to be imprisoned.

So anyway, that's six books, three authors, 1088 pages, and one long weekend. Till next time, folks.
Later Days.

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