Wednesday 28 April 2010

The Coronet Parkers

Here's another exceedingly dull discovery for you. For some reason I'd got it into my head that when UK publisher Hodder Fawcett/Coronet published Richard Stark/Donald Westlake's Parker novels in paperback in the late sixties/early seventies – the first time they'd been published in the UK – they were issued in the correct order, i.e. the order they were originally written and published in the US. But a recent win on eBay of two Coronet paperbacks – The Rare Coin Score and The Green Eagle Score – has proved otherwise.

Coronet did start off with the first book in the series, The Hunter (originally published in the US in 1962), except they went with the book's more famous title, Point Blank, to tie in with the 1967 John Boorman/Lee Marvin movie. As the Coronet edition of Point Blank was published in the same year as the film, the publisher opted for a movie tie-in cover:

Thereafter, I'd always figured the publisher had carried on with the series in its original order, with The Man with the Getaway Face – retitled The Steel Hit – coming next. I also thought that after the movie cover of Point Blank, Coronet has settled on a snazzy but simple double-cover design for the rest of the series, where the titles of the novels could be glimpsed through a bullet hole:

And indeed Coronet did publish all of the rest of the Parker books in that format – eventually. But before that, immediately following Point Blank, Coronet actually opted for the ninth Parker novel, The Rare Coin Score, for their second release in 1968, with a completely different cover design:

Why did they do this? Well I don't know for sure, but I'm guessing The Rare Coin Score was the most recent Parker novel at the time (it was published in the US in 1967), so perhaps Coronet wanted to stay in touch with the US schedule and stop any American copies of the book coming into the UK and eating into their sales. That's a common publishing strategy. As for why they chose that design, well, it's just really, really lovely. I have no idea who the illustrator is there – it doesn't say in the book – so if anyone knows, feel free to comment.

After The Rare Coin Score, Coronet next published the tenth Parker novel, The Green Eagle Score, in the same cover style, also in 1968 (originally published in the US in 1967):

Another classy cover there. So those are the two paperbacks I won on eBay. After The Green Eagle Score, I'm not sure how many other of the Parker books Coronet published in that manner. They may have issued the next Parker, The Black Ice Score, in that style, and thanks to The Violent World of Parker I know for sure they published The Sour Lemon Score that way:

They also released a movie version of the seventh Parker novel, The Seventh, as The Split in 1969, to tie in with that year's Gordon Flemyng film:

After that, I guess they switched to the double-cover design for the Parkers they'd yet to publish, and reprinted the novels they'd already published in those double-covers:

So there you go. Anyway, it's nice to have those first UK printings of The Rare Coin Score and The Green Eagle Score. I think they're pretty rare; I've certainly never seen those first printings online anywhere else. Of course, now I'll have to keep an eye out for the other Parker novel(s?) in that style...

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