I watched the director (Brian Helgeland) cut version of Payback a month or two ago. I liked that version of Payback and, until reading this, did not know how closely it followed the novel. Heck, I read the novel several years ago and remember little of it. (I know the Lee Marvin version of this is considered great but that Alcatraz crap in the end was stupid.) I enjoyed comparing Helgeland and Cooke's visual recreations and how much they matched. Helgeland did his first so I wonder how much Cooke was knowingly or unknowingly influenced by Helgeland and John Boorman's Point Blank.
Anyway. This was well done. Cooke adds in some narration to fill in the story about Parker, his wife, and Mal's weasel-ness. It's interesting to read this adaption and compare it to the flick. They both have limited space and Cooke adheres to the novel more than the film. Parker is a amoral fucker. Cooke keeps the limited humanity that Westlake gave Parker in the early novels.
I still think Parker loses more emotion and humanity in later novels. In this first novel Parker is acting off emotion and anger as much as anything. Cooke includes that discussion from the novel, "He wasn't sure himself anymore how much was a tough front to impress the organization and how much was himself. He knew he was hard, he knew he worried less about emotion than other people, but he'd never enjoyed the idea of killing." Parker never seems to enjoy much of anything except work and that is performed with a cold, analytical action.
The artwork is all two color and set in 1950s or 1960s New York: I suppose a cars or clothes nut would make a guess on the year and I don't recall the novel's initial pub date.