Wednesday, December 09, 2015

I Have Fred Vargas Covered!

This week I'm sending myself another visual reminder: Read The Next Fred Vargas Book Sitting On My TBR Shelves! I really enjoy her mysteries featuring Commissaire Adamsberg, and it's been much too long since I read the last one. In fact, I can't even remember the title of the last Vargas book I read! Oh oh....

I'm on a never-ending quest to compare the US and UK book covers of some of my favorite crime fiction authors. Sometimes I choose a certain book because an author has a new book in the series coming out that week; other times, I'm giving myself a much-needed reminder. Whatever the case, it's a task that I've come to enjoy-- and I hope you do, too.

Let's get to work comparing the covers of the very first Commissaire Adamsberg mystery, The Chalk Circle Man!

The US Cover... 

It's a misty, full moon night in Paris on the US cover. I feel as though I've had a bit too much to drink because I'm looking at a Paris Metro sign from a rather strange angle. Hmm... must have tripped over the curb. So far, I really like the graphics, but then someone went and spoiled it all by slapping on a lot of information. "The International Bestseller." "A Commissaire Adamsberg Mystery." A Crime Writers' Association seal proclaiming Vargas as a "Three Time Winner of the International Dagger." (She's won four times now.) "Author of This Night's Foul Work and Wash This Blood Clean From My Hand." A little penguin... and the title of the book and the author's name.

I think I'd be happier if they took the CWA seal off the book. There's just too much going on that distracts from an otherwise evocative cover.

The UK Cover...

Now this cover I like. It's uncluttered. It tells a rather creepy story. And it makes me want to pick it up and take it home. The title and author's name stand out well against the graphic, and I love the chalk font they used for the title. 

It's a dark, narrow street. The kind no one in his right mind walks down during the wee hours of the morning... but someone is. The light source is far in the distance, and it's throwing the shadow of the man walking toward us. He's just about to step on a circle drawn on the street with chalk.  There's a strange-looking shadow to the right, and something that looks a bit like a manhole cover to the left. This scene gives me the willies.

My Verdict...

I don't think you had any trouble deducing which is my choice: the UK cover. Less complicated, and it tells a story I simply cannot resist.

What Say You?

Which cover do you prefer? US? UK? Too close to call? Neither one?

Inquiring minds would love to know!



  1. I agree with you, Cathy. The UK cover is much more appealing. And I like the way it reflects what's in the book - at least to me.

  2. When you called Fred Vargas a her, I used your Search Kittling Books. I keyed in Fred Vargas and read your previous reviews and the write up of the author which included a photo. While doing this I saw a third cover on July 6th 2011 of the Chalk Circle Man. It had a lot of information on that cover too. They must have updated the cover since then. Now which of the two covers do I like best. I prefer the UK cover because it doesn't have all the extra written information on it. The US cover looks too busy with all the information. My eyes were darting all over the page reading the blurbs and not looking at the artwork.

    1. I did the same thing you did, Lynn, the first time I saw Fred talked about as a she. The copy of THE CHALK CIRCLE MAN that I read was different from these two, but I remember it being very busy and somewhat unappealing.

      For all of us who prefer being drawn in by artwork, title, and author, there must be millions more readers who prefer all the blurbs, award notices, etc., because all the "busy work" certainly isn't going away!

  3. Lol! This may not be the day to ask me that question.

    The US cover is awfully busy. The UK cover looks like someone took the title literally by putting a man and a chalk circle on the cover. verdict is that I probably wouldn't buy either based on the cover. But I'm also very tired and feeling contrary right now, so that may be influencing my choices.

    1. Feeling contrary always has an impact on my choices, Pepper. Of course, I haven't been feeling contrary lately at all. *looking at the ceiling and whistling*

  4. The British cover relates to the book's theme; there are chalk circles being drawn on the city's streets and there is a mysterious person committing murders. It's simple and direct.

    It also creates the mood of a crime story.

    I've read all of Fred Vargas' books. Her name is Frederique, by the way, and she uses Vargas as a pen name because her sister uses it, too. It's the same name as a character played by Ava Gardner.

    Her books are among my favorites. Vargas is a genius. Her plots and characters are quirky and unusual. They are the furthest from formulaic as a writer can get. Often, plots have a medieval myth involved. Vargas ia a medieval archaeologist and historian, an expert in the bubonic plague, which is useful is one of her books.

    There is a new book by her coming out soon. Cannot wait.

    1. Vargas is one of those writers whom I find to be every bit as fascinating as her books.


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