Wednesday 4 August 2010

Westlake Score: The Rare Coin Score by Richard Stark (Allison & Busby Edition)

And so we reach the final book from my recent tour of London's bookshops (although by no means our final Westlake Score...), and for me this was the real prize, a book I've been hunting an affordable copy of for months:

A UK hardback first edition of Richard Stark's The Rare Coin Score, published by Allison & Busby in 1984. This is the ninth in Westlake/Stark's series of novels featuring serial heister Parker (first published in the US in 1967), but it was the second book in the series that Allison & Busby published (and its debut in hardback), following Slayground and just before Point Blank. And it's the only one of the first eight A&B Parkers with the Mick Keates typographically inclined dustjackets that I was still missing (full rundown of those covers here). No longer, however.

I found this in Sotheran's of Sackville Street, off London's Piccadilly, apparently "the longest established antiquarian booksellers in the world". I'd never been there before; we just happened to pass it when we were in town that day after seeing the Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy. On first impression it's an imposing place: a huge, airy room with almost all of the books in slightly forbidding, locked, glass-fronted bookcases, which isn't exactly conducive to browsing. But I had a look at the spines on the modern first shelves anyway, not expecting to see much of interest, and wary that anything I did see would be extortionate.

And then I came across this copy of The Rare Coin Score, the only Westlake or Stark book on the shelves, sitting there as if it were waiting for me. Even then, I was debating whether or not to get someone to unlock the bookcase, certain that the book would be out of my price range. But then one of the, as it turns out, thoroughly nice and helpful chaps who buzz about the place sauntered over and offered to open the glass doors. So I had a look at the book, and it was exceptionally reasonably priced, positively cheap even, considering there aren't really any copies of this edition for sale online from UK dealers. Even the other nice man who took my money did a slight double-take when he saw the price of it.

So, that's one collecting goal accomplished: all eight of Allison & Busby's original editions of the Parker novels. Which means, time for another Parker Progress Report!

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