NB: A Version of this post also appears at Existential Ennui.
This, I fear, will be my final Violent World of Parker/Existential Ennui cross-post of 2013. The year is fast disappearing on me, and I can’t in all honesty see myself returning to Donald E. Westlake or Richard Stark – or any others of Westlake aliases for that matter – before it breathes its last. Rest assured, however, that I’ll be back in the new year, although I suspect not with any greater frequency than I have of late; the demands of fatherhood, and life, and work – not to mention Existential Ennui (with which I’ll be soldiering on in my usual intermittent fashion in the interim) – mean that I’ll probably only manage one cross-post a month, if that. Cause for celebration in some quarters I’m sure, but at least I’m going out with a bang in the shape of a sizeable Parker Score, comprising not one, not two, not three, but four Allison & Busby British hardback editions: Point Blank, The Man with the Getaway Face, Slayground (all 1984) and The Outfit (1988).
Now, I should point out that I already owned all four of these editions. But these ‘new’ copies, which I purchased from Brighton book dealer Alan White, are in better condition than my ones, and Alan did me such a good deal on them I couldn’t resist ‘upgrading’. That said, my old copies are still in pretty good nick – even The Man with the Getaway Face, which is ex-library – so I’ll be offloading them on eBay at some point, along with some other Westlake goodies. Although I might keep my other copy of The Outfit; curiously, and intriguingly, the copy I bought off Alan is bound in red leather rather than the usual black Arlin – although still foil-blocked on the spine – which makes me wonder if it wasn’t rebound for either a private library or maybe even Allison & Busby’s own files.
It’ll be interesting – to me anyway – to see whether the Allison & Busby hardbacks hold their value once the new IDW hardback editions of the Parker novels start arriving next year. While the A&B editions weren’t, in many cases, the first time the Parkers had appeared in hardback – Random House got there first with Deadly Edge and Slayground in 1971 and Plunder Squad in 1972, followed by Gold Lion with three earlier Parkers in 1973 and Gregg Press with another handful of early ones in 1981 – A&B did manage to issue more Parkers in hardback than any other publisher – thirteen in total from the sixteen-book 1962–1974 original run (A&B never published Plunder Squad or Butcher’s Moon, and only ever published Deadly Edge in paperback). Presumably – assuming their new editions are successful enough – at some point IDW will pass that milestone, but even so, I think I’ll still treasure my A&B editions not only as the piece of publishing history – especially British publishing history – they are, but also for how the collecting of those books led to both Existential Ennui becoming what it is today (for better or for worse) and to my becoming co-blogger at The Violent World of Parker (ditto).
Of course, whether or not I’ll be able to resist the urge to start collecting the IDW editions too is another matter entirely…
Anyway, the acquisition of these books affords me the opportunity to add yet more Richard Stark covers to Existential Ennui’s bulging British Thriller Book Cover Design of the 1970s and 1980s page, even though these Allison & Busby dust jackets, all designed by Mick Keates, are perhaps more indicative of the publisher’s house style than of that particular era of cover design.
Cheerio for now.
NB: A version of this post also appears at Existential Ennui.
If you missed the announcement on Existential Ennui on Friday, some (relatively) exciting news: I’ve established a brand new Existential Ennui permanent page:
A companion page to Beautiful British Book Jacket Design of the 1950s and 1960s—the dark flipside to that gallery, if you will—it gathers together dozens and dozens of covers from ’70s and ’80s editions of thrillers and crime fiction and spy fiction and the like. Already in the gallery are a bunch of Donald E. Westlake dust jackets—along with contemporaries like Ross Thomas (and his Oliver Bleeck alias), Elmore Leonard, Max Allan Collins and Dan J. Marlowe—and now Richard Stark makes his entrance, stalking through the doorway (the door having been kicked down by Parker, of course) to take his place—in his own right, not under Westlake’s name—with seven paperback covers, plus one hardcover.
Some of those covers hail from the Parker Mega Score, that haul of Coronet paperback editions of the Parker novels I’ve been blogging about on and off for over two months—there are a couple more, the 1971 Coronet Printings of The Mourner and The Jugger, randomly illustrating this post—and which after four posts (five if you include this one) I think we’ve probably all had enough of by now (accordingly, this will be the final post to make mention of it). I’ve picked four books from the Mega Score to represent Raymond Hawkey’s Parker bullet hole double cover design—The Steel Hit (Coronet, 1971, alias The Man with the Getaway Face), Run Lethal (Coronet, 1972, alias The Handle), Deadly Edge (Coronet, 1972, which shows a hand holding a gun on the inner cover, rather than the novel’s title) and Slayground (Coronet, 1973, which boasts a gold rather than a silver outer cover)—plus the 1977 Coronet edition of Butcher’s Moon, which sports a very ’70s photographic cover which may or may not have been by Hawkey’s design (I don’t know for sure either way).
(Incidentally, I already owned copies of two of those Coronet editions before I came into possession of the Parker Mega Score—Deadly Edge and Butcher’s Moon—but the Mega Score copies are in slightly better condition than the others, so I’ll be divesting myself of my original copies in due course.)
As well as those, I’ve included the 1970 Coronet second printings of Point Blank! and The Rare Coin Score, both of which sport entirely apposite photographic covers, and my copy of the very scarce 1973 Gold Lion hardback edition of The Sour Lemon Score. By my reckoning that brings the number of book covers on the page up to 100, although it won’t dally at that milestone for long: I’ll be adding even more thriller covers as the week wears on, and there’ll be yet more Westlake and Stark in there before too long. Needless to say, I’ll update both The Violent World of Parker and Existential Ennui when that happens. And that link to the gallery again is: