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THE RARE COIN SCORE by Richard Stark

I love the old Gold Medal covers I grew up looking at as a kid, so I’m featuring the one above instead of going with an image of the new edition.

I don’t much care for the new edition covers, actually. Too simplistic. The Parker books need the old school pulp treatment.

Because they’re old school pulp stories.

I read The Rare Coin Score again, as it turned out. I first read it probably forty years ago, and even then there was enough of an impact left that I remembered bits and pieces of the plot and characters as I went along.

This is the ninth book in the author’s long-running series. (I’m sure everyone knows that Richard Stark is a pseudonym for Donald Westlake, but, if not, here you go.) By this time, Stark had perfected the books to a stream-lined engine that opens to Parker on the move, closing in on a heist, and getting things going.

However, this book is different. Parker is bored and restless at the beginning of the book, something that he hasn’t been before. That leads in to the fact that this novel is different after all.

Readers who have dipped into the series now and again know that at some point Parker, the hardcore loner, picked up a woman named Claire. This is the book where that happens, so it’s a milestone of sorts in the series.

I enjoyed the read, even if I did halfway remember it, and it’s interesting to go through it again at a later age. When I was younger, I was enthralled with Parker, seeing him as a hard guy who got things done. Now I’m more of an adult and I’ve been around men like Parker, not professional thieves, but guys who can hunker down and achieve a goal no matter how bad it gets. Those men never cease to amaze me either.

I also known men like the near-do-wells that people the novel and become part of Parker’s crew. All of them are fascinating, but I know them in a different way at this age.

The caper this time is a coin heist, stealing rare coins from a coin convention, and there are a lot of problems Parker has to contend with. When he first looks at it, he knows he should bow out because it’s littered with amateurs and has-beens, but he’s restless. He needs to work because he’s been too successful lately and lying fallow isn’t in his DNA.

The books from this time period are quick reads and I blew through this one in a couple of evenings. The Rare Coin Score was published in 1967, and that was a much different world than the one we’re currently living in. I can easily drift back to that time, but a more contemporary reader might feel lost. However, the book is good and the robbery goes wrong, so there’s a lot going on to pull a read into the action.

So whether you’re reading it again, or for the first time, dig in and enjoy!

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