Monday, February 21, 2011

Donald E. Westlake/Richard Stark, 1933-2008

News from Dave:

At Kingdom Books we fondly remember the visit a few years ago by the Grand Master of mystery Donald E. Westlake and his wife Abby.  The Westlakes spent the evening with our customers at a dinner that was hosted by Beth in our dining room. Then the Westlakes and our customers attended a book signing and question-and-answer session in our shop. Westlake answered every question with grace and precision and signed many books for the Kingdom Books shop that we had gathered over a period of months. Abby was a delight and was also the co-author with Donald of two books that we had available to customers, and the author, under the name of Abby Adams, of one of her own.

I have read many of Donald E. Westlake's books over the years and I am an enthusiastic reader and collector of his Richard Stark novels.  I especially enjoy his earliest works because they were more hard-boiled and "noir." Both Beth and I are huge fans of Westlake’s Tucker Coe series of five books written in the 1970s about a disgraced former New York City police officer. We devoured the five Tucker Coe novels in about five days and were longing for more titles in that series.

At the end of the evening Donald E. Westlake kindly signed all the books in my collection of his works, and at that time I believe I had over 100 titles. The only books in the collection that he wouldn’t sign were three “sleazy” novels that Westlake had written in the early years of his career in order to provide funds for his growing family. The “sleazy” novels were written under several pseudonyms, and that brings up another interesting facet of Donald E. Westlake’s career. Because he loved writing, he often produced several stories or books within a very short time, and the pen names allowed him to get most of them readily into print.

Some of the pseudonyms he used were the following:
Richard Stark
Tucker Coe
Alan Marshall
Alan Marsh
James Blue      
Ben Christopher
John Dexter     
Andrew Shaw
Edwin West     
John B. Allan   
Don Holliday   
Curt Clark
P. N. Castor
Timothy Culver
J. Morgan Cunningham
Samuel Holt
Judson Jack Carmichael
Over the years at Kingdom Books we have had the good fortune of providing our customers with many Richard Stark titles.  On one of our visits to the Bay Area a few years ago we purchased about 20 Stark titles for a collector in Vermont.

Just last week we purchased a large collection of Richard Stark paperbacks of 12 of the first titles in the series, and we will soon have them listed on ABE Books or for purchase directly from Kingdom Books. Many of these copies are not creased and are unread, which is very unusual for these titles.  (This is the Avon series.)
The Hunter
The Mourner
The Outfit
The Man With the Getaway Face
The Score       
The Jugger
The Handle
The Seventh
The Green Eagle Score
Plunder Squad (scarce title)
Butcher’s Moon (scarce title)
The Sour Lemon Score & Deadly Edge (omnibus) (uncommon title)
As a bookseller, we are proud to have these Richard Stark titles available for purchase.

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