Publishers Weekly has started a regular feature on book covers ( and with all the recent attention on covers using the same stock photo, it got me thinking--what crime covers do you like? Which ones work for you, the reader?

It would be nice to attach the actual cover in your discussions. I'm not totally sure how to do that--if you're not sure either, perhaps someone more technologically adept can follow up your post with an actual image.

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Thanks for the PW link - the author's blog is interesting too, though it's not focused on crime fiction.

I was just asked last week to send in some ideas for the cover of my next book. It was sort of depressing to browse through covers and see how many were really unimaginative. And of course the Rap Sheet has been seeing double.

That said, here's one of my favorites...

And I really like the color and texture in this, too....

Both good books, by the way.
I think many of us here have the same gritty taste, but I wonder if it translates well with the general public. Most thrillers and many mysteries do not have this understated, elegant quality. Perhaps the public wants something else.
All I can say is that if we're to go by what paperback racks show as "what the public wants," the public wants big type and bland graphics. With embossing and maybe foil. They are totally boring. I'm not sure the public would defend them.

Seems to me there's a revival of interest in design in all kinds of things (maybe the iPod is to blame) - I'd love to see the book industry hop on board.

Funny how much book covers (and their contents) are a matter of "what other books is it like?" No wonder we have so many cloned covers. And books.
Best Ever... The two sided cover of "Cons, Scams and Grifts" by Joe Gores. Here's the front:

I couldn't find a copy of the back, you can see it with "Search Inside" on Amazon. Basically it's the same painting from the opposite side and it turns out that he is robbing her purse even as she lifts his wallet.
This pic doesn't convey the tactile feeling of the cover, especially with the blackened edges of paper, but I almost bought this on the cover alone.

Funny, it looks different on this side of the pond (as always) - saw this on the book covers blog I got to from Naomi's original post.

We get the green one in the UK too. I think the green one is WAY more atmospheric.
I actually like the black and white version. I guess I like more graphic treatments, and I feel that there's something very cynical and maniacal about these branches growing from the letters.

Do you ever test a cover by looking at it from a distance on a bookshelf with other covers? I think that a cover needs to work from a variety of distances.
Do you ever test a cover by looking at it from a distance on a bookshelf with other covers? I think that a cover needs to work from a variety of distances.

excellent point. i had a cover (Play Dead) that most people really liked. but on the shelf it just looked like blobs of brown and yellow mud. you couldn't make out what it was.
Just for the benefit of any visitors:

I see what you're saying. I'm also wondering about the upside down "A." Don't know if it works from a distance.
oh, yeah! it even looks bad close up. :O

my agent loved it
everybody at the publishing house loved it
some booksellers loved it

for me it was just a big WTF. i don't get it.
I prefer original art to photographs -- especially in light of recent revelations that publishers use the same photos from the same common source for different titles. On the whole, I have found most of the dingy black and white photographs depressing, and the overt suggestion that the book takes place in some hellish and hopeless world of shadowy crime would turn me off if I didn't know the author or the series.


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