Monday 24 May 2010

Books I Done Got Dis Weekend

What with the weekend post and the Lewes book fair, I ended up with a fair haul of books over the weekend. Friday brought a couple of things in the post:

That's a 1970 UK Coronet paperback second print of Richard Stark's The Rare Coin Score. I picked that up off eBay so I could compare and contrast, which I'll go into in a separate post. And this:

A 1962 first Pan UK paperback of Patricia Highsmith's A Game for the Living. And what that means is I now have all five of the novels Highsmith published under her own name in the 1950s as first edition UK paperbacks, most of which were published by Pan (usually a year or two after their hardback debuts):

Neat, huh? Some great artwork on those Pans by the likes of David Tayler and Sam Peffer. Anyway, at the Lewes Book Fair on Saturday I went in with twenty-five quid and found precisely two books that together set me back exactly... twenty-five quid. Sometimes it feels like the whole universe is built around me, which is awfully solipsistic of me, but there you go. It's my universe and I'll be solipsistic if I want to. Both books came from the same dealer:

A 1966 first edition of the second Modesty Blaise novel, Sabre-Tooth, by Peter O'Donnell (who sadly died recently), cover art by Jim Holdaway (the original artist on the Modesty Blaise newspaper comic strip), published by Souvenir Press (that's my first edition of the debut Modesty Blaise novel on the left next to it, published by Souvenir Press in 1965); and:

A 2005 UK hardback of George Pelecanos' Drama City, published by Orion, and signed by Pelecanos. At least I hope that's his signature. Hard to tell. I guess the dealer could've scrawled that there. I read Pelecanos' The Way Home and really liked it, and I'm a huge fan of The Wire, which he wrote for; this is another of his standalone books, as opposed to the various detective series he's written. Should be good. (And yes, that is me you can see reflected in the shiny dustwrapper, taking the photo. Jesus, what a doofus.)

And then when I got back to the house later that day the postman had been again and left me this:

A 2002 UK hardback of Richard Stark's Flashfire, published by Robert Hale (originally published in the US by Mysterious Press in 2000), with a cover painting by Derek Colligan (as with all the Robert Hale editions). This is the nineteenth Parker novel, and it was only when I had it in my hands I realised what Donald Westlake had done with the titles of the Parker books when Parker came back in 1997 after his twenty-plus year break: he tag-teamed them. He kicked off with Comeback, then Backflash, Flashfire, Firebreak, and then Breakout. He changed tack again with the subsequent Nobody Runs Forever, possibly 'cos he struggled with a coming up with a title starting with 'Out'. Interesting. Or maybe not. But there it is. So I now have the first twenty Parker novels (up to and including Firebreak)... and I'll have news on the next couple soon.


  1. Wow, those Pan originals of the Highsmith books are absolutely gorgeous. I've never seen anything like them here in North America.

    I'm not such a big fan of the second iteration of the Parker books, though they get better and better. Your post just made me realize he could have used Outrun for the last title, but it does lack a bit of punch.

  2. Does 'Outrun' work as the title? If it'd been set in Australia he could've used 'Outback'. Or if he'd been Elmore Leonard he could've gone with 'Out of Sight'.

    I'll stop now.

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  4. I am currently re-reading Peter O'Donnell's excellent Modesty Blaise books and would love to see you focus on this series.
    Frankly, they were the best thrillers published in the '60s.

  5. That's a very good point, Windswept: I haven't really blogged about the Modesty Blaise novels properly, the odd mention here and there aside. I did know Peter O'Donnell a little, from my time working at Titan Books on the Modesty strip collections. I've made a mental not to myself to do some Blaise blogging soon.