Tuesday, May 19, 2015

I've Got Alex Grecian Covered!

This week is packed with the newest releases of some of my favorite crime fiction writers. In fact I have an extra review scheduled. Today you'll not only get to compare the British and American covers of one of those new books, you'll also be able to read my review of it.

I think that, at one time or another, we've all run across different book covers for the same title. Sometimes it's a classic like Pride and Prejudice that gets a new look each time it's reprinted. But if your reading tastes extend to the other side of the pond, you know that the same book can be published in the US with one cover and in the UK with a completely different one. Sometimes the publishers will even have different titles which means that we really have to keep on our toes.

As a novice book cover connoisseur, I'm finding it interesting to see what each country's publisher thought was most important in catching the eye of a book buyer. Let's take a look at this week's cover comparison....

Alex Grecian's Scotland Yard's Murder Squad mysteries are set in the 1890s in and around London. They feature two detectives, Day and Hammersmith, who encounter some pretty hair-raising-- and gruesome-- cases. Grecian often sets his scariest scenes in the dark. What's creepier than a killer stalking prey through the foggy streets of London at night, or chasing a mad man into the sewers, or looking for clues in abandoned mines? Before you think it's an all-out gory fright night, let me assure you that these books aren't, and it's all due to those two detectives I mentioned. Grecian has created some marvelous characters. Anyway, let's take a look at these covers!

The US cover is pretty stark. Black. White. Red. Grecian has his name at the top. We're told that he's a national bestselling author and that this book is part of the Murder Squad series. The "Harvest Man" is the name of the latest killer these two detectives must catch, and from the looks of the cover, Day and Hammersmith are going to have to walk into someplace dark and frightening. Take a look at what's hovering almost out of sight on either side of that dark doorway. Flies. Perhaps I've watched too many crime dramas and read too much crime fiction because the very first time I saw those flies on the cover, I thought of the types of things they're attracted to: dead bodies, perhaps?

Okay. I've creeped myself out, and I haven't even opened the book to begin reading yet!

On the other hand, the UK cover of The Harvest Man has a lot more going on. Once again, Grecian's name is at the top, and there are two blurbs at the bottom, one from Jeffery Deaver and one from the UK newspaper the Daily Express. The way the title is presented is interesting. That big black band emphasizing "Harvest" grabs your attention and makes you wonder what's being harvested. Then there's something that looks like an ornate Victorian mirror with-- what?-- a hand? Are we catching a glimpse of the killer? Is someone trapped inside the mirror? I'm not quite sure what that's all about, and I hope a few of you will have some enlightening thoughts on the matter.

Which one do I prefer? I think you already know from what I've said. I prefer the simplicity-- and the menace-- of the US cover. I find the UK cover a bit confusing.

What about you? Which one do you prefer? US? UK? Neither one? Inquiring minds would love to know!


  1. I'm with you, Cathy. I really prefer the US cover. Somehow it's more suspenseful.

  2. I'll chime in with my preference for the US cover too. The Victorian Age is one of my very favorite time to read about and London is a favorite setting for me. It's the whole Jack the Ripper time and I just love it. The UK cover is a little too dainty for me. Makes me think more of a ghost story. And all this being said, I still haven't started this series, but I do have the first book, The Yard, here and shall read it at some point. I know I'll love these books.

    1. I have a feeling you're going to love them, too, Kay. I bought my copy of The Yard at the Waterstone's in Cambridge the last time we were in the UK. Made it a bit of a special read before I even began, and then I absolutely loved it.

  3. I think I agree on the U.S. cover. It's simper and more menacing. But also I don't know what is going on in the British cover. An interesting design, but what does it mean?

    1. Your guess is as good as mine, Kathy!


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