Parker Score: The Outfit


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

Time to pull another Parker from the pile of eleven pristine Coronet paperback editions colloquially known as the Parker Mega Score. And this next one might be of particular interest to Violent World of Parker proprietor Trent, seeing as he doesn’t currently have it in his cover gallery: The Outfit, first published in the UK by Coronet/Hodder Fawcett in 1971 (originally published in the States in 1963). Another Raymond Hawkey-designed “bullet hole” double-cover, the only major difference from the Coronet edition of The Steel Hit (alias Parker #2, The Man with the Getaway Face) I showcased last week, cover copy aside, is the color scheme; the text on the inner cover is orange rather than pale yellow:


Other than that, the back cover carries the same Anthony Boucher New York Times quote:


And the inner back cover sports the same bio and photo of Westlake:


That uniformity across most—but not all—of the bullet hole Coronets means that they can be an acquired taste. Doubtless some Parker enthusiasts find them a tad boring, but the bullet hole Parkers do have a following, and are fondly remembered by British Parker fans especially, for obvious reasons. Consequently many of the Coronet editions have become quite uncommon—at present there are just five copies of the Coronet The Outfit on AbeBooks, for example—but for collectors there are additional wrinkles alongside scarcity. For one thing, as commenters on both Existential Ennui and TVWoP (including Trent) have pointed out, they’re highly susceptible to damage: that die-cut bullet hole is prone to tearing, and the outer covers have been known to come loose altogether. And then there’s the fact that many of the bullet hole Coronets went into second printings: over half of those five copies of The Outfit currently listed on AbeBooks are second impressions, and those that aren’t don’t look to be in terribly good shape. Tot all that up, and the Parker Mega Score starts to look really quite remarkable.

I think I’m going to jump ahead a year for the next Parker from the Mega Score stack, to 1972, in order to demonstrate how the Parkers were sometimes retitled by us Brits—and those new titles were often subsequently adopted by the Americans…

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