Friday Faceoff – Halfway up the stairs isn’t up and isn’t down…


This meme was started by Books by Proxy, whose fabulous idea was to compare UK and US book covers and decide which is we prefer. This week the theme is a cover featuring stairs, so I’ve selected Murder Must Advertise – Book 10 of the Lord Peter Wimsey series by Dorothy L. Sayers.


This cover, produced by HarperTorch in May 1995, is boringly generic. They have taken one of the original images and plonked it into the middle of a white cover. The best part of this cover is the period feel of the font, which is well done.


This edition was produced by Four Square Books in 1962 and is a far better effort. There is a real sense of drama conveyed by the crumpled body at the bottom of the twisting staircase with all the advertisements behind him on the wall. My big quibble with this cover is that ugly black block for the title font – if it wasn’t for that, this one would be my favourite.


Published in 1967 by Avon Books, this edition is my favourite. I love the marble effect of the cover and the lovely art deco effect produced on both the image and the fonts for the author and title, which look as if they have actually been designed to complement each other.


This edition, published by HarperPerennial in 1993 is another good effort. The staircase looks far more seedy and shadow of the hapless victim on the wall while falling to his death gives a rather creepy feel to the cover.


This Dutch edition, produced by Uitgeverij Het Spectrum is another blast from the past as it was produced in 1961. I like the punchy effect of the cream and black against the red, which I think would have been a much stronger colour before it faded with age. The figure falling headfirst down the stairs gives lots of drama to the cover, making it appealing and eye-catching. Which is your favourite?

33 responses »

  1. I think the Avon is my favorite for sure. I like it for the same reasons you mention! I like the second one too for that spiral staircase, and it grows on me as I look at these. Also the last one for the same reason, the staircase but also the retro feel!

  2. Pingback: The Friday Face-Off: The Staircase – Books by Proxy

  3. I like your choice best to be honest. The style and the art deco set out. Lovely. I quite like the cover below as well – and as well as the shadow is that blood on the handrail? Ominous.
    Lynn 😀

  4. Not real fan for any of these art styles (guess I only like older coves when it’s for SF/F?). Of all of them I actually prefer HarperTorch the best. Granted it really doesn’t have much going, but I don’t like any of the stuff the over covers do have going on. Less is more, right? XD

  5. While I enjoy yer top pick, I must say the last is me favourite. What can I say, I just seem to have a thing for silhouettes. Plus it makes it seem like the book will be fun but have silly parts. Does it?
    x The Captain

    • Hm… no, not really. There are always a few flashes of humour in the series, but it isn’t ever slapstick. Sayers is always too mindful that someone has died – and that the sentence for murder is hanging – which it was when she was writing the series. I highly recommend these books – I personally think she is the finest murder mystery writer of her generation.

  6. Oh, I dig these! That last one takes simplicity to an effective level, I think. That second one stands out the most, though, with the cool collage of ads in the background with the stark staircase in the forefront. I wonder what kind of text would better suit that style, though, instead of the black bar…

  7. I think your favorite is also my favorite, although the second one would have been if not for the black bar across the top with the author’s name in it. That just ruins the overall look of the cover for me.

  8. I had a hard time choosing between the one that is your favorite, and the last one, but I think in the end I’ll go with the Dutch edition because I like the simple but eye-catching style (in comparison to the rather busy cover by Avon Books).

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