Tuesday 14 December 2010

Westlake Score: Killing Time by Donald E. Westlake (T.V. Boardman First Edition)

So then, after yesterday's slight detour, back to the usual rubbish:

That there is the UK hardback first edition of Donald E. Westlake's Killing Time, published by T. V. Boardman in 1962 – originally published in the US by Random House in 1961. I've actually teased this cover before, when I posted that gallery of Westlake Boardman editions; I stole the original, slightly ropey, image of the cover for that post – which I've updated now – off an eBay listing... and then went and won the listed book anyway. So now here's a better quality version, photographed by my own fair hand. The dustjacket is, as you can see, in a dreadful old state, while the book is a bit grubby on the page edges, and there are a couple of stamps inside identifying it as belonging to "G. Welch & Son, Newsagents, Librarians, Tobacconists, Wellington St., Luton, Beds". But copies of this edition are very thin on the ground, and I paid a pittance for it, so it'll do till I find a nicer one.

Killing Time is Westlake's second novel under his own name, following The Mercenaries. I haven't read Killing Time yet, but there's a guy working his way through Westlake's oeuvre that Trent at Violent World of Parker sometimes links to; his review of the novel is right here. He also has an honest assessment of The Mercenaries on his blog, the press blurbs for which on the back flap of Killing Time's jacket are a little... reserved: the Times Literary Supplement called it a "competent New York Gangster thriller", while John o' London's Weekly (the whatnow?) reckoned it was "lively and amusing". Julian Symons in the Sunday Times was a bit more effusive, but then judging by the countless quotes from his reviews I've seen on the back covers of thrillers from the '50s to the '70s, he usually was, the tart.

The dustjacket of this edition of Killing Time was, of course, designed by Denis McLoughlin, who I covered extensively in that Boardman post (and others before it). It's perhaps the most comic book-y cover he created for the Westlake books published by Boardman – not surprising really, as he was a comics artist too – but there's an energy to the thing that I like, and a hint of McLoughlin's chiaroscuro style in that spotlit garage door and dark foreground. Good stuff.

Click here for a review of Killing Time.


  1. I really like the American paperback cover of this one (as The Operator), although I suspect it has little to do with the book. I haven't read it yet, but maybe you've given me an excuse to move it to the top of the stack so I can post the cover.

    "G. Welch & Son, Newsagents, Librarians, Tobacconists." Now there's a company that really ought to hire me.

  2. I know, that's like all my interests under one no doubt slightly yellow roof. Except I'm not allowed the tobacco these days. Sigh.