Book publishers love movies. If a publisher can tie a book into a film somehow, they will. You can see why: the publicity generated by a movie (so the reasoning goes) can only benefit sales of a related book. If it's a film based on a novel, the publisher can shout about that fact on the cover or, even better, license a still or the poster from the movie for the book's cover. It almost doesn't matter if the film's any good or not. If it's a good film, stands to reason people will want to seek out the original novel. If it isn't, well, the publisher can simply spread the word that, hey, the movie might be crap, but the original novel's great! (I saw this in action for myself whilst working at Titan when the film version of Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill's The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen came out. The film turned out to be a dog, but the graphic novel sold gangbusters off the back of it.)
I mention all this because I've just checked out the back flap of Slayground (see previous post) and consequently have answered my own question as to why Allison & Busby decided to publish the fourteenth Parker novel first: there was a film out. As the flap text states, "Richard Stark has written fourteen novels featuring his coldly methodical anti-hero Parker [actually it was sixteen by this point – Plunder Squad and Butcher's Moon followed Slayground in the early seventies – but anyway...]. Peter Coyote is the fourth to take the role in a major film [er, actually he was the sixth by this point, although I guess that depends on how you define "major film"; Made in USA, Point Blank and The Split all get a mention in the text, but surely The Outfit qualifies too...?] – Slayground."
And here it is:
And yes, that bloody face in the background is indeed Mel Smith, of Alas Smith & Jones and Not the Nine O'clock News fame. I haven't seen Slayground, but the review at Violent World of Parker (which is a terrific website) ain't great. And they should know.
Anyway. Another question answered.