Westlake Double Score: Killtown and The Score by Richard Stark (Parker #5, Berkley, 1973 / Avon, 1984)

I should probably apologise in advance for the essentially pointless nature of this post, but if nothing else it’ll afford a glimpse into my diseased, obsessive psyche…

This latest Westlake Score—or, more accurately, and as the title of this post suggests, Double Score—came from two separate British eBay sellers who coincidentally listed different editions of the same Richard Stark novel on the same day, in auctions that ended within an hour of each other. Naturally, inveterate—not to mention unhinged—collector that I am—and despite my already owning an Allison & Busby hardback of the novel in question—I snapped ’em both up, but I did also have a (marginally) saner ulterior motive for bidding on them. (Well, one of them, anyway.)

See, for a while now, I’ve been wondering who the cover artist was on the 1970s Berkley Medallion softcover editions of the Parker novels (from whence The Violent World of Parker website takes its name). There are no art credits either on the covers or in the interiors, and I’ve spent hours searching online for information to no avail. So when I saw the 1973 Berkley edition of the fifth Parker novel, The Score—retitled Killtown—on eBay, I figured I’d nab it and see if I could locate a signature on the artwork. Sadly, I was thwarted once again; there’s what looks to be a partial signature on the bottom right edge of the artwork, but it’s cut off—and it might simply be a random squiggle anyway.


Unexpectedly, the 1984 Avon edition of The Score, which was the other book I won on eBay, turned out to be rather more intriguing. I’d never really examined the covers of the Avon editions too closely, figuring they were photographic and therefore of less interest to me than illustrated or painted covers (which I tend to prefer). But on closer inspection of the Avon softcover of The Score, I realised that it’s only partly photographic: the top half is a photo, but the bottom half actually appears to be a very skilled, highly rendered, photorealistic painting, of the type seen on film posters or in advertising:

A handful of others of the Avon printings deploy this split-media technique too, including The Mourner, The Seventh, and Slayground. However, as with Killtown, there’s no cover credit inside The Score and no signature on the artwork. Which means the net result of my twin eBay scores is I now have two mysteries to solve instead of one. Brilliant. Really, then, this post is a plea more than anything: if anyone owns other Berkley or Avon editions of the Parker novels and can identify a signature on any of them, please do leave a comment and put me out of my—now multiplied—misery.

(Incidentally, and apropos of nothing, I’ve begun a series on post-apocalyptic fiction over on Existential Ennui; the latest post, on Ray Bradbury’s The Silver Locusts—AKA The Martian Chronicles—is up now, so if end-of-the-world stories float your ark, swing by and take a gander.)