Friday, January 02, 2009

Some Finnish Westlake covers

I decided to put up some scans of the covers for Finnish Westlakes and Starks as an homage to the deceased author. Some of these covers - well, maybe none of them are - are not a very good homage to Westlake and his cunning mastery of the genre.

First we have Westlake's first, The Mercenaries, under the Finnish title, "I Am a Hired Assassin". Wonder what Westlake would've thought of that - he didn't approve of the The Mercenaries title.

Then we have the first Parker, The Hunter, under the Richard Stark byline. The Finnish title: "Coffin Up That Parker!" or something along those lines. Is the photo from some film or what? Could it be from Point Blank?

Then we follow with another Parker, called "I Am Parker". That guy? No way, jose. "He's the underworld's lone wolf. He's feared, hated, ice cold. His name is Parker." Originally The Man with the Getaway Face.

After that another early Westlake, 361. I like this cover, which is probably by a Spanish artist (there's a signature beside the lady), but the text on the cover is bland and styleless. The ending of the Finnish translation ("Towards Death") is altered in a stupid and incomprehensible way, beware of it!

And last, but not least: The Jugger, from the Parker saga. This was the basis of Jean-Luc Godard's Made in U.S.A., which is probably the least comprehensible of his pre-Maoist films. You can recognize the story if you know what you're looking for. If I understood correctly, Westlake was never paid for the filming rights and later he bought the film's rights to himself and didn't allow it to be screened in the United States. I don't really think anyone misses anything here. But as for the cover, do you recognize Parker in the bunch? They are not from Godard's film either. ("The underworld's lone wolf strikes - hard!")

Westlake has had a a lot of Finnish publishers: first it was Valpas-Mainos (Olen palkattu murhaaja), then Vaasa (the Manhattan and Parker series), then Otava (Pankaa Parker lautoihin) and then Viihdeviikarit (The Jugger). Dortmunder and other humorous novels, along with a one-off or two (like Killing Time, as Tappoaikaa, some years ago) have been published in hardcover. There was also a collection of his short stories about a New York police officer Levine, with a not very criminous sounding title Matter of the Heart/Sydämenasia. For some reason, he's never been big in Finland. The Hot Rock seems to have had four printings (and an audio version), and Bank Shot two (as Ottakaa pankki kiinni/"Catch That Bank"), but that's about it. Some of the paperbacks have come out as two separate editions from different publishers, who may have not known the books had been previously published. Based on how readable Westlake is, you'd think he would've been huge everywhere.

The cover scans courtesy of Talvipäivänseisaus.

Edit: paperback expert and Harry Whittington scholar David Laurence Wilson has this to say (just came in e-mail) about The Jugger cover:

Dear Juri --
Thanks for your words, as we all gather around the internet to say goodbye to the Great One. He left enough words behind to keep us all reading for many many years. That Finnish cover of
The Jugger is from the American edition of one of Max Collins' Nolan series, an appropriation that I think Max would consider a great honor.
David Laurence Wilson


pattinase (abbott) said...

Nice to see these, thanks.

Anders E said...

Juri, I will be able to provide you with scans of some (OK, a lot of them, actually) Swedish Westlake scans from Monday the 5th and onwards. If you want them.

I'm visiting my mother at the moment so I have no access to books at the moment. Gotta use this forum for communication, I gueess.

I think you have my email address. Just say no if you think it's inappropiate.

Btw, AFAIK the first Westlake published in Sweden was "The Man with the Getaway Face" in 1963. Yep, the SECOND Parker book was the first here...

Juri said...

Thanks, Anders, it might be nice to post some of them here. When you get some time etc.

And of course everyone noticed that David Wilson meant Collins's Nolan series, not Tanner (who is Block's hero). I'll change that in due time.

drwilliams said...

The artwork on the bottom book appears to be from one of Max Allan Collins' early Nolan books. Nolan was a thief modeled after Parker.

Anonymous said...


I've been using your site to flesh out my covers collections over at The Violent World of Parker ( I just stumbled across this little discrepancy--the cover you list in this post as being for The Jugger is listed at this site ( as being for The Sour Lemon Score, with a different image for The Jugger. Can you give me any help with this? My readers would love to see all these great Finnish covers, so I want to get them right!

Juri said...

Trent, I'll try to dig out some info on this. But later.

Juri said...

Trent: I got the answer right away. I have the covers wrong, the site you mention has them right. So it's The Sour Lemon Score, not The Jugger. I'll have to make corrections to the original blog post, but won't make it now. Thanks for noticing!