Wednesday 9 September 2015

Westlake Score: Killtown (alias The Score, Parker #5) by Richard Stark (alias Donald E. Westlake) (Coronet, 1971)

NB: A version of this post also appears at The Violent World of Parker. Linked in Friday's Forgotten Books, 11/9/15.

This Westlake Score may not be quite as exciting a proposition, or indeed acquisition, as the T. V. Boardman edition of Pity Him Afterwards I blogged about last week (for me anyway; who knows – perhaps it will be for you), but like that book it does complete a run of novels in my seemingly ever-expanding Donald E. Westlake collection – in this instance the British paperback first editions of the Parkers.

Published by Coronet/Hodder Fawcett in 1971, Killtown is the fifth of Westlake's written-as-Richard-Stark Parker novels, retitled – presumably by Coronet, said new title also utilised by Berkley in the States for their 1973 paperback edition – from the original title of The Score, i.e. the one where Parker and crew take down an entire town. Now, I do, it almost (almost) goes without saying, already own four other editions of the novel – that aforementioned Berkley paperback, a 1984 Avon paperback, an original 1964 Pocket paperback and a 1985 Allison & Busby hardback – but when I spotted this copy of the Coronet edition on eBay I couldn't resist bidding for it (and winning it, for just over four quid). Reason being, it was the only one of the sixteen Parkers published by Coronet that I didn't own. And now I do, which means that I have a complete set of first printings of the British first editions of the initial run of Parkers.

The urge to buy a book when one already owns four other editions of that same book is the kind of madness that is probably only explicable to other book collectors (and even then...), but in my defence I should like to point out that this is quite a scarce edition, certainly in its first printing (which my copy is): I can only see one other copy listed for sale online at present, offered by an American seller at $35. Admittedly there are a half a dozen or so reprints listed on AbeBooks and Amazon and the like, but who in their right mind wants a reprint of anything? (Ahem.)

In common with the bulk of the Coronet Parkers, the cover of Killtown is a double-cover "bullet hole" affair – a design attributed to the late great Raymond Hawkey – with the shiny black paper inner cover beneath the silver card outer cover bearing the legend "Parker is in" followed by the book's title – which shows through the bullet hole – on the front, and on the back a photo of Westlake/Stark and a brief bio. (I say "the bulk of the Coronet Parkers" because some of them were initially issued by Coronet with illustrated and photographic covers.) And like a good half dozen or so of the other bullet hole cover Parkers, on its first page it sports this character sketch:

Not sure that's an entirely accurate description of Parker, but I do like the bit about how "in his mean, dark world he is almost a god". Anyway, should anyone be remotely interested – or even still reading by this point – here is Killtown nestling in amongst my complete collection of first printings (plus a few reprints) of the Coronet editions:


  1. "the kind of madness that is probably only explicable to other book collectors "

    A man was sent by his doctor to see a psychiatrist.
    "Well," said the psychiatrist "Why have you come to see me?"
    "I don't understand." said the man "It's just because I like cream buns."
    "Nothing wrong with that. I'm very fond of them myself."
    "Really? You must come and see my collection. I've got thousands."

    Any relation?

  2. I rejoice in you finding another missing piece in the infinite puzzle, Nick, but I've always been content with my Pocket paperback original edition of this one, which I will try not to read to death before the time comes to leave it to someone in my will.

    I have never been fond of the title change, but that is some wild beat poetry the Evening Standard came up with. Who was doing their book reviews back then, Aleister Crowley? Yes, I know he died in 1947. What's your point?

    1. I know, Christ knows what I'm going to do with all these multiple editions of the Parkers. I should really sell some of them – and in fact I will hopefully be eBaying some Westlake/Stark novels soon – but they're among my favourite books – as in, physical objects – in my collection. Hopeless.