Friday 5 March 2010

Progress Report: The Richard Stark 'Parker' Novels

The other package I was waiting for turned up yesterday, containing this:

The 1987 Allison & Busby UK hardback edition of Richard Stark's fourth Parker novel, The Mourner. It came in the same package as this:

The 1986 A&B paperback edition of the sixth Parker novel, The Jugger. And straight away something struck me as being odd about The Mourner. I looked at it in my hands, looked at the paperback of The Jugger, looked over to the other A&B Parker hardbacks on the shelf, looked back to the book in my hands... and realised it's smaller than the other hardbacks, about the same size as The Jugger, which is larger paperback size. At first I wondered if A&B started publishing the hardbacks at a smaller size from 1987, but that can't be right 'cos I have a 1988 A&B edition of the third Parker novel, The Outfit, and that's at the same larger size as the other ones. And it can't be that A&B dropped the size to fit in with later Parker novels they'd already published (A&B published out of sequence, remember), because my copy of the A&B edition of the eighth Parker novel, The Handle, which they published in 1986, is the larger size again.

Still with me? No? Good.

Well anyway, granted, in the grand scheme of things this isn't exactly earth-shatteringly important, and is probably of no interest to anyone other than, er, me. But it does leave me with two unanswered questions:

1) Why did Allison & Busby change the size of their Parker hardbacks? The logical course for them when they were republishing the novels in the eighties would have been to keep them all at the same trim size, thus creating a uniform library. So why the change?

2) Which of the A&B Parker hardbacks I haven't yet seen are in the larger size and which are in the smaller size? (I only have five of the sixteen hardbacks, and it's going to take me a fair while to acquire the rest, so I can't see this one being answered anytime soon.)

Oh, and one other book turned up yesterday:

A 1972 Coronet reprint paperback of the ninth Parker novel, The Rare Coin Score, with one of those nifty double covers. That'll tide me over till I can find an Allison & Busby hardback edition.

And for no one's benefit other than my own, I shall now list, in order of original publication (i.e. the sixties/early seventies dates) the Parker novels from the initial run I now own (and the edition I have 'em in), and the ones I still need to track down. Here's what I got and ain't got:

Point Blank/The Hunter (Allison & Busby HB, 1985; also Coronet PB, 1967)
The Steel Hit/The Man with the Getaway Face (Coronet PB, 1971)
The Outfit (A&B HB, 1988; also Berkley PB 1973)
The Mourner (A&B HB, 1987)
The Score/Killtown (still to get)
The Jugger (A&B PB, 1986)
The Seventh/The Split (still to get)
The Handle/Run Lethal (A&B HB, 1986)
The Rare Coin Score (Coronet PB, 1972)
The Green Eagle Score (still to get)
The Black Ice Score (still to get)
The Sour Lemon Score (still to get)
Deadly Edge (still to get)
Slayground (A&B HB, 1984)
Plunder Squad (still to get)
Butcher's Moon (still to get)

All of the ones I don't have are going to be tricky to find at affordable prices, but Deadly Edge, Plunder Squad and Butcher's Moon are going to be frickin' impossible. I don't think Allison & Busby even published those last two. In fact, I'm not sure they were ever published in the UK at all.

Ah, the thrill of the chase.

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