Tuesday 15 June 2010

Books Bits and Bobs: Killy, The Rare Coin Score, The Hot Rock, and Peter Rabe

Per the title of this post, it's a bits and bobs day today. First up, apropos of nothing, here's a pic of an early Donald Westlake book I got hold of a while back and never posted the cover:

That's the UK first edition hardback of Killy, published by T. V. Boardman & Company in 1964 (a year after the US first) as part of their American Bloodhound series (no. 454, to be precise). The cover's by Denis McLoughlin, who was pretty much Boardman's one-man art department. I haven't seen this particular cover online before, so here it is. Lovely stuff.

I finished reading The Rare Coin Score, which was a good, solid Parker (and number 9 in the series, fact fans). For a change, there isn't much of a Stark Cutaway in this one; in Part Three we hang out with a coin dealer for a while, and a security guard, and one of Parker's crew, and the finger for the heist, Billy Lebatard, but it's more about advancing the plot than filling in backstory – and it's hard to see what the interlude with the security guard (or the coin dealer for that matter) brings to the table (I'm not even sure if it's the same guard who gets shot later). But I'd say the Stark Stooge in this one is the aforementioned Billy; he's out of his depth right from the get-go, and it's not hard to guess how his story ends.

I've taken a slight detour from the Parkers and am now halfway through Westlake's first John Dortmunder novel, The Hot Rock, which is an amusing read, although not as laff-out-loud funny as I'd been led to believe. But the structure is inherently comedic, as Dortmunder and his crew have to keep trying to steal the same diamond, for reasons that are too complicated to go into here. I've just ordered a nice-looking Hodder & Stoughton UK first edition of the second Dortmunder book, Bank Shot!, from Australia of all places, to match my Hodder first of The Hot Rock, so I'll give that one a go too, and then we'll see. (Not least because there are no Hodder copies whatsoever online of the third one, Jimmy the Kid... I'm getting the feeling collecting these may be even harder than collecting Allison & Busby Parkers.)

I also bought a copy of the new graphic novel adaptation of The Hot Rock, by LAX (originally published in France a couple of years ago). So I may do a compare-and-contrast when I've read both the novel and the graphic novel. Gee, I bet you can't wait, can you?

Finally, a new arrival:

A 1959 first UK edition of Peter Rabe's Journey into Terror, published by Frederick Muller/Fawcett/Gold Medal in paperback a couple of years after the US edition (with the same fab cover by M. Hooks, the only difference being a UK price of 2 shillings in the top right corner). I've mentioned Rabe before, and previously nabbed a copy of his Blood on the Desert off eBay (same as I did this one). Rabe wrote loads of pulpy crime novels in the 1950s and 1960s, but I've recently discovered some of them comprise a loose series of six books, featuring a retired gangster called Daniel Port. The first one of the series is Dig My Grave Deep; I've just ordered a cheap UK first of that from Amazon, and I'm looking into the others. I know that Donald Westlake was a fan of and influenced by Rabe, so I'm wondering if Port was an influence on Parker. We shall see...

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