NB: A Version of this post also appears at The Violent World of Parker. Linked in this week's Friday's Forgotten Books.
This, I fear, will be my final Violent World of Parker/Existential Ennui cross-post of 2013. The year is fast disappearing on me, and I can't in all honesty see myself returning to Donald E. Westlake or Richard Stark – or any others of Westlake aliases for that matter – before it breathes its last. Rest assured, however, that I'll be back blogging at The Violent World of Parker in the new year, although I suspect not with any greater frequency than I have of late; the demands of fatherhood, and life, and work – not to mention Existential Ennui (with which I'll be soldiering on in my usual intermittent fashion in the interim) – mean that I'll probably only manage one cross-post a month, if that. Cause for celebration in some quarters I'm sure, but at least I'm going out with a bang in the shape of a sizeable Parker Score, comprising not one, not two, not three, but four Allison & Busby British hardback editions: Point Blank, The Man with the Getaway Face, Slayground (all 1984) and The Outfit (1988).
Now, I should point out that I already owned all four of these editions. But these 'new' copies, which I purchased from Brighton book dealer Alan White, are in better condition than my ones, and Alan did me such a good deal on them I couldn't resist 'upgrading'. That said, my old copies are still in pretty good nick – even The Man with the Getaway Face, which is ex-library – so I'll be offloading them on eBay at some point, along with some other Westlake goodies. Although I might keep my other copy of The Outfit; curiously, and intriguingly, the copy I bought off Alan is bound in red leather rather than the usual black Arlin – although still foil-blocked on the spine – which makes me wonder if it wasn't rebound for either a private library or maybe even Allison & Busby's own files.
It'll be interesting – to me anyway – to see whether the Allison & Busby hardbacks hold their value once the new IDW hardback editions of the Parker novels start arriving next year. While the A&B editions weren't, in many cases, the first time the Parkers had appeared in hardback – Random House got there first with Deadly Edge and Slayground in 1971 and Plunder Squad in 1972, followed by Gold Lion with three earlier Parkers in 1973 and Gregg Press with another handful of early ones in 1981 – A&B did manage to issue more Parkers in hardback than any other publisher – thirteen in total from the sixteen-book 1962–1974 original run (A&B never published Plunder Squad or Butcher's Moon, and only ever published Deadly Edge in paperback). Presumably – assuming their new editions are successful enough – at some point IDW will pass that milestone, but even so, I think I'll still treasure my A&B editions not only as the piece of publishing history – especially British publishing history – they are, but also for how the collecting of those books led to both Existential Ennui becoming what it is today (for better or for worse) and to my becoming co-blogger at The Violent World of Parker (ditto).
Of course, whether or not I'll be able to resist the urge to start collecting the IDW editions too is another matter entirely...
Anyway, the acquisition of these books affords me the opportunity to add yet more Richard Stark covers to Existential Ennui's bulging British Thriller Book Cover Design of the 1970s and 1980s page, even though these Allison & Busby dust jackets, all designed by Mick Keates, are perhaps more indicative of the publisher's house style than of that particular era of cover design.
And there'll be further additions to British Thriller Book Cover Design of the 1970s and 1980s fairly soon, as I make a return to the work of spy novelist Anthony Price...