Friday 16 August 2013

Parker Mega Score Prelude: Richard Stark British First Editions (Coronet Paperbacks, 1968–1977)

NB: A version of this post also appears at The Violent World of Parker.

Good lord, has it really been nearly four months since I last posted something over at The Violent World of Parker? Tsk, I dunno: anyone would think I'd recently become a father or something. (Let's not get into the fact that I've managed about a dozen Existential Ennui blog posts on Elmore Leonard in the interim. Ahem.) Anyway, obviously my absence represents a dreadful dereliction of duty, for which I shall attempt to make amends by unveiling a shitload of Westlake Scores over the coming weeks. Or rather, Parker Scores; because all of the books I'll be blogging about are Parker novels – British paperback editions to be precise, published by Coronet/Hodder Fawcett in the late 1960s and early '70s. And all of them came from a single source...

See, a couple of months back, quite out of the blue, I received an email from the critic and crime writer Mike Ripley (author of the Angel series of novels). I know Mike a little bit, and Mike knows I'm a Westlake/Stark/Parker nut, and so having, as he put it, "acquired a job lot of Donald Westlake/Richard Stark titles, all paperbacks in remarkably good condition for their age", he figured I might be a likely candidate to take them off his hands, for the price of a small donation to charity. Mike provided a list of the books, fourteen in total; three of them were Coronet paperbacks of Westlake novels I either owned already in hardback or wasn't especially interested in, but the remainder were all Coronet editions of the Parker novels, and even though I already had a number of them (and of course have every Parker novel in one or another edition anyway), well, I couldn't resist:

Turns out they're all, bar one, first impressions – most of the Coronet editions went through two or three printings – which means that they're (almost) all the British first editions (and the one that isn't I have a first printing of anyway, so it's all good) – Coronet being the original publisher of the Parkers in the UK. They're also in near-fine, virtually unread condition, certainly the nicest copies I've ever come across, and are, for the most part, the "bullet hole" editions – i.e. the distinctive metallic finish die-cut double-cover concept designed by Raymond Hawkey and introduced by Coronet in 1971. (Prior to that the six Parker novels Coronet published – out of sequence, mostly following the Fawcett/Gold Medal publishing programme – bore a mixture of movie still, illustrative and photographic covers.)

So, over the next however-many weeks, I'll be taking a look at some of them – ruminating on what they are, what they represent, their place in the wider Parker publishing scheme of things, their collectability, and maybe even reflecting on the novels themselves. Beginning with the book on the top of that pile: The Steel Hit, alias Parker #2, The Man with the Getaway Face...


  1. I can't see the whole stack, but judging by that top one, they look to be in great shape. Good score!

  2. Ah, see I intentionally photographed them so the spines on the other books wouldn't be visible (well, most of them anyway). That way, which Parkers are in the stack will remain a secret until I unveil them.

    I know: I'm a horse's arse.

  3. Sounds great Nick, can wait to see the posts. Mike very kindly let me have your cast-offs for a small donation, so I got my hands on the first two Dortmunders (THE HOT ROCK, the movie-tie-in, which I am guffawing my way through right now) and THE BANK SHOT as well as the standalone, COPS AND ROBBERS, all rgeat fun and decently adapted for the movies too.

  4. Ah, excellent! Glad those other Westlakes went to a good home.