Westlake Score: The Blackbird by Richard Stark; 1970 Hodder & Stoughton first edition

NB: A version of this post also appears on Existential Ennui.

On to the second of two exclusive, never-before-seen-online Westlake Scores; and as with yesterday’s Score—a 1969 British Hodder & Stoughton first edition of Westlake’s second Alan Grofield novel, The Dame—today’s offering is also a Grofield book, and again boasts a particular provenance . . .

First published in hardback in the UK by Hodder & Stoughton in 1970—the year after the US Macmillan edition—The Blackbird is the third of Westlake/Stark’s Grofield-starring Parker spin-off novels, and is, of course, of particular interest to Parker completists due to the fact that it shares its opening chapter with Slayground, the fourteenth Parker novel. The Hodder edition of The Blackbird is just as scarce as the Hodder edition of The Dame: there’s currently only one copy on AbeBooks, offered by an Australian seller, although it is, at least, priced slightly more attractively than the lone (ex-library) copy of The Dame.

I acquired this copy of The Blackbird from the same dealer as The Dame, and again it’s Hodder & Stoughton’s file copy:

But although its dust jacket design evidently takes as its inspiration Craig Dodd’s design for The Dame:

It’s actually credited to Graphics Partners, about whom I know virtually nothing, other than they also designed the wrapper for Sheila MacLeod’s The Snow White Soliloquies. Whoever they were/are, however, by splitting the “Blackbird” in the title in two, they’ve made Westlake’s pun rather blunter. Mind you, the later Foul Play Press paperback committed the same sin, but at least there they had the excuse that the design style they’d established for their covers meant they couldn’t fit the “Blackbird” on one line.

Comparing the 1969 US Macmillan edition of The Blackbird to the Hodder edition, I think in this instance, unlike with The Dame, the British cover wins it. Jack Wolf’s wrapper for the Macmillan Blackbird always struck me as a little ugly, although as my copy of that Macmillan edition is signed, I shan’t be divesting myself of it anytime soon.

I mentioned in the previous post that Hodder & Stoughton published three out of the four Grofield novels in hardback in the UK. I’ve shown you two of them, but I also own the other one as well, and it strikes me that I’ve never really showcased it properly (aside from the odd shoddily photographed guest appearance). So, to complete the set, I thought we could take a look at it in the next post . . .