Monday, January 22, 2018
I Have M.C. Beaton Covered!
M.C. Beaton has written three traditional mystery series (what we Americans tend to call "cozies"). One, the historical Captain Harry Cartwright and Lady Rose Summer series, has only four books while the other two, the Hamish Macbeth series set in the Highlands of Scotland and the Agatha Raisin series set in the English Cotswolds, have been going strong since the mid-80s and early-90s respectively.
I began reading both series, but I didn't last long with Agatha at all. Men-hungry women as main characters-- even if played for laughs-- just rub my fur the wrong way. But Hamish? Ah, he was another matter entirely, probably because he is a police constable in one of my favorite places on Earth, the Highlands of Scotland. However, I soon stopped reading Hamish as well, and I know why. I tired of the formula, and I'd also gotten a chance to watch Robert Carlyle portray him in a BBC television series that lasted three seasons. The scenery is wonderful (I've walked the streets of the village of Plockton where it was filmed), and I just flat-out prefer the writing of the televised series. But enough of all this. Let's get to comparing the US and UK covers of one of Beaton's Macbeth covers, shall we?
One of these days, I'm going to have a Cover-Off and not tell you which cover I prefer. You're going to have to guess, and the first one to do so correctly will win something like a Poisoned Pen gift card or a book. How does that sound? Let me know because if no one pipes up, I'll figure you're not interested.
The US Cover...
...is just plain too busy. Crashing waves, shorebirds, a nurse's cap, gulls, footprints in the sand, and way off in the distance, a village, and a lighthouse. I know many readers who are drawn naturally to covers with lighthouses on them, but this one is so small that you have to work to see it.
Then we have all the print. We have to be told that she's a New York Times bestselling author, and there's the ubiquitous blurb. We're told it's a Hamish Macbeth mystery, which is a good thing, then there's the author's name and the title of the book, neither of which stand out well on all that busy-ness. And... I don't know if it's by accident or design... Death of a Nurse looks like it could take place here in the US. All in all, a ho-hum cover.
The UK Cover...
...on the other hand, screams the Highlands of Scotland to me, and I have plenty of photographs to prove it. The font, its size and color, stand out well on the title and the "A Hamish Macbeth Murder Mystery," but although I know why the author's name is in that size and color (and well done that her other series is mentioned!), I find it annoying.
The bottom quarter of the cover is superb, and I love it and the fact that the entire thing is not overwhelmed with things to see.
If I were walking down the bookstore aisle, the US cover would not catch my eye at all. There's no focal point, nothing that grabs my eye or my attention. On the other hand, that stone cottage on the shore of a loch on the UK cover would make me pick it up immediately.
What say all of you? Which cover do you prefer? US? UK? Neither one? Too close to call? Inquiring minds would love to know!