Pulp Friday: Parker

Today’s Pulp Friday is a selection of books by one of my favourite authors, Richard Stark AKA the late Donald Westlake.

Regular readers of Pulp Curry will know that my love of Westlake and his creation, the professional thief Parker, particularly his pre-1974 incarnation, knows no bounds.

I’ve been keen for a while now to share some of my collection of Parker covers. The impetus for finally getting my act together is two fold.

First, I recently picked up a cheap copy of the very rare 1977 Coronet Books edition of Butcher’s Moon and I wanted it show it off. It’s got a great early seventies feel.

Second, I’ve been re-reading one of the earlier Parker books, The Black Ice Score. The cover of the 1986 Allison and Busby edition is among those below “Stealing the Africans’ diamonds back appeals to the arch pro in Parker. But the opposition’s clumsy double cross activates the mean machine”.

Actually, re-reading is not quite accurate. I started it years ago but never finished. The story didn’t particularly appeal to me at the time and I’ve since talked to many people who believe it is one of Westlake’s lessor Parker efforts.

But I’m enjoying it this time around. Parker gets involved in a diamond heist being staged by a group of Africans who want to use the proceeds to overthrow their country’s corrupt ruler. There’s another interested party, of course, a collection of former white farm owners from the same African state who want the money to launch their own takeover.

It’s a solid heist story and Westlake Parker’s interactions with the black-nationalist politics of the latest sixties are amusing.

Among the other covers below are three Pocket Book editions: The Outfit and The Man with the Getaway Face, both published in 1963, and The Jugger (1965).

The 1966 edition of The Split (“Here’s Parker! Double crossed and filled with a cold and murderous anger”) features a wonderful cover by pulp art supremo Robert McGinnis.

The Allison and Busby version of Deadly Edge came out in 1971. Slay Ground is a 1971 edition published by Berkley Publishing Corporation.



4 Responses

  1. Great article. If anyone deserves more time in the spotlight it’s Parker. Everyone knows the character from adaptations, but often without knowing it’s Parker they’re looking at. Darwyn Cooke has been illustrating the Parker stories into graphic novels in recent years, which I’ve been meaning to pick up.

  2. Brent,
    You have got to pick up Cooke’s Parker graphic novels. Cooke ‘gets’ Parker – the character, the vibe of his criminal milieu, the zeitgeist and aesthetics of the time he lived in. They are a must read for any serious Parker fan.

  3. I never read any of the Parker novels, but your article makes me want to. I seem to recall seeing a lot of paperbacks with the word “Stark” on the cover in the 60’s.

    • Tim,
      I would go so far as to say if I was trapped on a desert island and could only bring books by one author with me, it’d be Stark AKA Westlake. Don’t wait another minute. Go out and buy some of the books now. The University of Chicago Press has re-released all of them and they are available very cheaply.

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