Monday 15 February 2010

Crime Time

Another new arrival on Saturday:

That's a 1967 first Coronet Hodder Fawcett edition of Richard Stark's Point Blank, a.k.a. The Hunter, the first of the series of books starring single-minded criminal Parker. It's the movie tie-in edition rather than a proper first edition (The Hunter was originally published in 1962, five years before the John Boorman film came out; that's Lee Marvin on the cover as Parker, or Walker as he was called in the film), but I think it was the first time the novel was published in the UK. It's a bit creased, but it's pretty firm. Getting hold of actual US first editions of crime novels like this in the UK is tough unless you're prepared to have them shipped from the States; I keep an eye on eBay, but they don't turn up that often. This'll do me, though. I've actually read the Darwyn Cooke graphic novel adaptation of The Hunter already, which apparently is pretty faithful, so it'll be interesting to compare the two.

I also won a copy of this on eBay:

That's the third or fourth Parker novel, The Outfit, and I believe it's a 1973 Berkley edition (Mr. Postie hasn't delivered it yet), published to tie in with John Flynn's movie. So now I've got a couple of Richard Stark (or Donald Westlake, to give him his real name) books to be getting on with... and soon I'll hopefully have a couple of Jim Thompson paperbacks too.

Elsewhere on the crime beat, I finished George Pelecanos' The Way Home at the weekend, which I liked a lot. It's very low key, and takes pains to navigate round the more obvious trappings of 'crime' novels, so much so that when a typical crime novel device comes into play – a bag of money is found – it feels levered in, and that plot strand just sort of meanders around before providing the payoff at the end. Much more interesting are the passages outlining the sense of failure the father feels over his wayward son, and the section set in the juvenile detention centre. Still, it's a good book.

And now I've started largely forgotten British thriller writer Gavin Lyall's The Wrong Side of the Sky, his debut novel from 1961 (and a first edition I picked up for a fiver at the Rye Book Fair last year). It's about a pilot on the trail of some missing gems, and I think it's going to be a bit of a corker.

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