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The Rare Coin Score (Parker #9)

4.07 of 5 stars 4.07  ·  rating details  ·  735 ratings  ·  74 reviews
The Rare Coin Score features the first appearance of Claire, who will steal Parker’s heister’s heart—while together they steal two million dollars of rare coins.

“Parker . . . lumbers through the pages of Richard Stark’s noir novels scattering dead bodies like peanut shells. . . . In a complex world [he] makes things simple.”—William Grimes, New York Times

“Donald Westlake’s
Mass Market Paperback
Published 1967 by Fawcett Gold Medal
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The Hunter by Richard StarkThe Man With The Getaway Face by Richard StarkThe Score by Richard StarkThe Mourner by Richard StarkBreakout by Richard Stark
Richard Stark's Parker Novels
11th out of 12 books — 2 voters
The Mirror Crack'd from Side to Side by Agatha ChristieLord Edgware Dies by Agatha ChristieDead Man's Ransom by Ellis PetersThe Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan DoyleOriginal Sin by P.D. James
Best Book 9s in a Series
141st out of 158 books — 19 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,039)
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Dan Schwent
Parker gets involved in a caper to rob a coin convention. Complicating matters are an attractive young woman and Billy Lebatard, the man who came up with the operation that happens to have a crush on her. Can Parker pull of the heist without the situation unravelling?

The Rare Coin Score was one of the best Parker stories I've read yet. Throwing Claire into the mix gave it a little something extra that set it apart from some of the other stories. Parker with a woman in tow? It sets up plenty of f
Oct 30, 2013 Ed rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Richard Stark fans, hardboiled readers
Recommended to Ed by: long time fan
This top-notch Parker caper comes from the mighty pen of Richard Stark (a.k.a. Donald Westlake). What a shame there will be no other titles. This time Parker, the most hardboiled of American thieves, decides to throw in with a motley crew heisting a rare coins convention. Of course, things never go as planned no matter how carefully he sets up the job. This is the job where Parker meets his loyal and smart lady friend Claire who has a key role. It's a thrill to see how Parker thinks on the fly a ...more
This is the book where Richard Stark (a/k/a Donald Westlake) quit opening every Parker book with the word ‘When’ so I can quit trying to be clever and starting all my reviews the same way. (And none of you even noticed. I work and slave over a hot laptop all day and this is the thanks I get!)

Parker doesn’t need money for a change, but he’s getting bored and restless as he aimlessly travels the country bedding down every woman he can get his hands on so he’s glad to get a call about a planned sco
The foreword by Luc Sante is excellent in most ways. He describes Parker's character very well & gives a very good overview of the series. Unfortunately, it contains a lot of series spoilers. Since I was driving & it wasn't a single track, I couldn't really skip it. This is the publisher's fault. Luke mentions that it's been 23 years since the previous book, so that has to be the break between Butcher's Moon #16 (1974) & #17 Comeback (1997). This book is #9! I guess Audio Go just dec ...more
In Parker's ninth outing he knocks over a coin convention. He also acts a little less like a sociopath robot and a little more like a sociopath human. Parker still likes to sit in dark rooms though when no one is around and he still knows that others might find this to be a little weird so he denies himself this one pleasure in life by leaving a light on when he knows someone is going to drop by.

This novel is better than the last couple of Parker adventures.
Jun 29, 2015 Mark rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of the noir genre
Recommended to Mark by: Ed Lynsky
Parker gets involved into a score that involves rare coins, the crew involved does not gets his hopes up and he has to figure out himself how to really do the job. The pay off could be great if it all works out.

Parker meets Claire for the first time and she kind of breaks his usual cycle of doing things which kind of surprises Parker. For the first time since his wife herself killed and almost got him killed Parker meets somebody that has an effect on how he acts and reacts.

The story is not a lo
James Thane
First published in 1967, this is another book in Richard Stark's (Donald Westlake's) Parker series that has long been out of print and unavailable. Happily, it has now been resurected and republished by the University of Chicato Press.

In this book, Stark's amoral protagonist plots the theft of a couple of million dollars (that's 1967 dollars!) worth of rare coins from a coin collector's convention in Indianapolis. He devises a fairly ingenious plan, the execution of which sadly depends on some u
Stark - when writing about Parker - is one of those authors (like Wodehouse or Chandler) who really inspires me. There is a brutal simplicity to the prose that beautifully captures the character and keeps the plot going at a cracking pace, even when the characters are just sat around and planning. I pretty much end every Stark novel wanting to go away and write beautifully taut prose about a strong amoral character. (I haven't done it yet, but one day...)

The plots (again like Wodehouse) are fair
Zakariah Johnson
I love reading one or two Parker novels every year. Fortunately Richard Stark, AKA the late Donald Westlake, was as prolific as he was talented. My 1972 paperback version of this one has a jagged circle off-center in the cover that looks more like a bullet hole than a coin. Otherwise the cover has no art, it just says:

The Rare Coin
A Novel of Violence
Richard Stark

And that's what it is from start to finish: unvarnished, unapologetic, but highly creative violence featuring Stark's most frightening
Jane Stewart
3 stars. Engaging. Some slightly different characters this time.

Needy childlike Billy loves Claire the widow who sees Billy with contempt. This book was slightly above average but still worth reading because the series is great. I don’t want to stop reading them.

The Forward by Luc Sante was insightful. A few of his comments follow, edited for brevity. “When I read my first Parker novel, I was stunned. I imagined that I had stumbled upon a particularly brilliant specimen of a thriving genre. But
John Cain
For those who like hard boiled crime novels this is most likely already on your books I have read list. If it is not then it soon should be.
It is a somewhat typical Parker caper but as with all Richard Stark books better than most crime novels.

If you are looking for deep psychological thrillers this not what you want. If you are looking for deft prose and smooth delivery of a plot pick up the book. Of the crooks who survive some reappear in Butchers Moon, the most complex of the Parker books.
Stark hits a high point with this Parker novel about a heist of a coin convention. It's the first appearance of Claire, the most significant woman in Parker's life after his first wife, a woman for whom he's willing to break a number of his rules when it comes to mixing sex and work (though it should be noted his feelings for Claire do not prevent him from fucking other women). I rank this among the very best of the series.
You don't learn much about rare coins, I'm warning you. Except that one teenager in Indianapolis is interested in half-pennies from the 1820s. (Or was that the 1830s?) You learn a lot about crime. Or anyway crime in 1967. In Indianapolis. As committed by a brilliant, heroic, somehow Irish-seeming guy named Parker. He is supposedly extremely "cold-blooded," but that's just his demeanor. He's secretly almost wishfully compassionate. But he never ACTS on his compassion. Except, occasionally, when h ...more
Ed [Redacted]
Another solid if unspectacular Parker novel. Notable in that this is the introduction to Claire. It's a bit of a reach for Parker, violating a couple of the rules he lives by but hey, love and all that stuff.
Mike Sanders
Well, after two average Parker novels and a disappointing Grofield novel, Stark returns to form with an awesome, hardass Parker novel that equals the earlier ones in the series. The Rare Coin Score also has the distinction of containing one of the best/funniest hardboiled opening lines I've read in a long time: "Parker spent two weeks on the white sand beach at Biloxi, and on a white sandy bitch named Belle, but he was restless, and one day without thinking about it he checked out and sent a for ...more
Quentin Feduchin
I suppose Stark's (aka Westlake's) main crime is that Parker gets away with it in all his books. I guess all one can say about that is, get over it.

Parker hears about a rather unusual kind of caper. Indeed his first instinct is to leave well alone. But his curiosity won't let him be, and also a rather interesting lady enters the scene. So basically he traps himself into a doubtful scenario.

The details are very interesting, as usual Stark seems to have gained some background knowledge that helps
As fun to read as ever, but another very short book.

The caper is as inventive and as doomed as you'd expect, but still lots of cleverness and tension. Parker's banter with the new girl is nicely handled, although I can't say I'm going to miss her when she turns up dead at some point (it's bound to happen isn't it?).

I like the fact that he seems to be changing as a character, not quite the automaton of the earlier books, but I hope he doesn't get too soft.
Stealing coins isn't the greatest idea. They are too hard to get rid off and there are too many possibilities for stuff to go wrong. Parker meets a lady friend and breaks one of his rules, of course of course. But seeming how it was supposed a quite job and was working out that way. That is never the case with Parker, someone else tries to takeover and he's off running grabbing the girl and using her as a shield. Kind of cruel but what do you expect. But they end coming to a sort of agreement th ...more
Aaron Martz
A milestone Parker book, it begins with Parker bored with his life and restless for something different. He meets Claire who sets him up with a rare coin dealer who has a scheme that Parker is never very sure of but goes along with anyway. Besides the introduction of Claire, who would become Parker's lover for the rest of the series, this book is interesting because of how out of sorts Parker is throughout the whole thing. Usually calm and calculating, finding Parker off-kilter lends an extra le ...more
Steve Isaak
This is an especially outstanding Parker novel - all of the books in this series thus far are excellent - not only for its introduction of Claire, but also for Parker's evolution as a person (an evolution that's noteworthy and natural at the same time). As with past Parker works, there is suspense, complications and a betrayal or two, along with a few other wild card elements.

Great read, followed by The Green Eagle Score.

(This review originally appeared on the Reading & Writing By Pub Light
Alex Gherzo
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Marc Weidenbaum
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aaron Schmidt
Nine books in, we get to learn a little more about Parker. And, while it's taken awhile to be seen, it's clear that the characterization has been consistent, deep, and waiting to be revealed. Much as the details of a heist come together slowly, so too do emotions gradually seep into the narrative.

I particularly enjoyed the emergence of personal details mirroring Parker's evolving fix on the heist. Parker needs more time to work out the details of this particular job, and that time allows the rea
Debbie J
In The Rare Coin Score, criminal extraordinaire Parker embarks upon a rather odd heist: relieving an Indianapolis numismatists convention of a rare coins cache worth seven figures in dollars.

Coins are weighty to transport, tricky and slow to fence, and Parker and his cohorts will have to wait months to get a return on their illegal "investment". Nevertheless, Parker mulls over the potential risks and accepts the challenge.

Despite careful planning the scheme doesn't quite go off without a hitch.
Tim Niland
Parker, the cold and calculating master thief has a few rules when planning a heist and rule number one is: never work with amateurs. Called to Indianapolis by a fellow crook named Lempke, and allured by a femme fatale named Claire, Parker puts his better judgment aside. Nervous coin dealer Billy Lebetard, anxious to win Claire for himself, has cooked up a scheme to rip off a coin convention and to fence the ill-gotten booty. The setup looks bad: Lempke is just out of jail, weak and scared. The ...more
Parker is our beloved sociopath. He generally follows a set of rules but it's never about the moral choice, it's about what leads to the best outcome for his current venture. He will never go back on deal, but when he spots the double cross (and he will), he will quickly plan to turn the double cross around and cut you out.

In the course of the series, we get a lot of rules or general cycles that Parker follows. The Rare Coin is intriguing because it plays with Parker's rules and throws in sever
David Macpherson
I will always read these Parker books, but this one was not as spectacular as the others. It has the cool characters and double crosses and steely eyed gazes as he gets stuck in a not ideal heist of coin show. It did feel too familiar and a little rote in the storytelling. But a lesser Parker novel is better than most.
Jose Batista
A robbery gets entangled: great pacing, no fluff.
Another great Parker novel and it is in this one that he meets Claire. As usual every page counts, there is no waste here. Things go wrong, Parker has to hurry up to mend them, watch his back, and get the money and the girl.
The Rare Coin Score is the ninth of Donald E. Westlake's Parker novels, written under the name Richard Stark. The Rare Coin Score is, to my mind, the absolute pinnacle of a heist novel. It represents what Donald E. Westlake did exceedingly well: it aspires to be nothing more than it is, merely the tightest, nastiest crime novel possible, with enough rich detail and unexpected twists to just plain blast off the page. In doing so, it thoroughly transcends the genre and becomes one of the existenti ...more
Parker was restless and, because of it, violated two cardinal rules. Working with amateurs and having a woman along, and sleeping with her, during the job.

The job was a coin dealer's show one weekend. The amateur was to point out the table with the coins worth the most. He had a driver to help, a strong man to load the cases on their truck, both to help waylay and tie the guards up, the old man named Lempke who'd brought him in, and the woman.

Things were going well until an attempt was made to h
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Other Books in the Series

Parker (1 - 10 of 24 books)
  • The Hunter (Parker, #1)
  • The Man With The Getaway Face (Parker, #2)
  • The Outfit (Parker, #3)
  • The Mourner (Parker, #4)
  • The Score (Parker, #5)
  • The Jugger (Parker, #6)
  • The Seventh (Parker, #7)
  • The Handle (Parker, #8)
  • The Green Eagle Score (Parker, #10)
  • The Black Ice Score (Parker, #11)
The Hunter (Parker, #1) The Man With The Getaway Face (Parker, #2) The Outfit (Parker, #3) The Score (Parker, #5) The Mourner (Parker, #4)

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“PARKER spent two weeks on the white sand beach at Biloxi, and on a white sandy bitch named Belle, ....
Beat that for a PC opening line.... not”
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