Wednesday, March 02, 2016

I Have Stephen King Covered!

While this will be familiar to most book bloggers, it may be new to many of you book blog readers: I try to write as many of my posts ahead of time as I can and schedule when I want them to appear on my blog. I don't do this all the time. Sometimes I allow myself a little time to be lazy, but when I do I always regret it. 

Right now I have the best of incentives to keep my nose to the grindstone. Not only are Denis and I going to an event at The Poisoned Pen tomorrow night, the next four days will be filled with the crime fiction writers' convention known as Left Coast Crime. Something tells me I'm going to be a tad too busy to even think of writing blog posts! Luckily I've been able to write far enough ahead to give myself some time to recuperate and some time to write recaps. What I need to do is keep this up because I have a house guest coming next month, and I know I'll be away from the blogging keyboard the entire time he's here.

When I began thinking of what book I was going to compare the US and UK covers of, I looked up at the shelf above my desk and saw my copy of Stephen King's Mr. Mercedes, one of my Best Reads so far this year. That was that. I went searching for the relevant paperback covers, and voilĂ ! 

Let's take a look....


For once, the US paperback is taller than the UK. That doesn't happen very often!

As you can see, Stephen King is big in the UK, too. Once his name is plastered across the cover, there's not much else that needs to be said.  The wording on the American cover is succinct. Author. Title. A reminder that the book is a #1 New York Times bestseller. 'nuff said. The UK cover is also concise in its wording. Author. Title. A reminder of its bestselling status. And... completely unnecessary... a blurb from a UK newspaper telling us that it's the "best thriller of the year." (For those readers who want nothing to do with the worst thrillers of the year.)

Obviously it's the artwork that's going to be the deciding factor in which cover I prefer.  

For some reason, the UK has chosen a grey sky with rain bucketing down on a blue umbrella. Yes, that blue umbrella is integral to the book, but it didn't rain that much while Bill Hodges was trying to catch the bad guy. Perhaps the UK publisher wanted its readers to feel more at home in King's world? The only other thing on the cover is a weird little blotch on the umbrella. What is it? I was finally able to find a high resolution, large-sized image, and that blotch is what I thought it was: blood. (In the smaller images, it could almost be mistaken for a beetle.) With the rain coming down that hard, shouldn't that blood be diluted and running down the umbrella?

The US cover is not so restrained. Yes, there is that important blue umbrella, but it's blood-splattered and broken. From the bloody tire track, you can tell that something awful has happened, and indeed it has. This alludes to the opening scenes of the book, when a psychopath steals a car and deliberately drives it into a crowd of people waiting for a job fair to open. Both the umbrella and the tire track are symbols of the psychopath, and if you'd like to dabble in a bit of symbolism, I'd say from the state of that umbrella, Brady Hartsfield just may find himself hoist by his own petard by book's end.

Which cover do I prefer? You can probably tell by what I've already said: the US cover. It may be a bit disturbing, but it's symbolic and true to the book.

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



  1. I concur with your preference for the U.S. cover. I think it's more dramatic and definitely conveys a dastardly deed was committed.

    It's a more compelling cover for a mystery book lover, I think.

  2. I like the US cover better, too, Cathy. Somehow, it just gets my attention and is more appealing, even though it is, as you say, less restrained.

    1. Yes... for some reason I just can't get too excited over an umbrella in the rain.

  3. Another vote for the US cover. I couldn't decide what was on the UK umbrella. It looked like a leaf to me. The US cover definitely suggest something bad has happened.

    Hope you are recovering well. I'm regaling my mystery group with the 'tale of Left Coast' tonight. :-)

    1. They'll be hanging on your every word, Kay! I'd say I was recuperating well if I weren't dealing with a ton of laundry today. (Minions, I say. I need minions!)

  4. Yes, I'm with the US one. I think you put your finger on it with that blood spot. It can't just sit there like a beetle. I knew there was something wrong, but you point out what it is - that it would wash off!

    1. Perhaps it's supposed to be some sort of Super Evil Blood that never washes off? We'll never know.


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