Friday Faceoff – Be as a tower firmly set…


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 a tower, so I’ve selected The Black Tower – Book 5 of the Adam Dalgliesh Mysteries by P.D. James.


This edition was produced by Touchstone in April 2012 and I want to like it more than I do. It seems a rather cool idea to envelope a rather haunting image of a tower in a very dark tint. In reality, I think the result is rather dreary and unappealing – though I’m unsure whether that’s really the case, or the fact that I am very much drawn to bright, sunshine colours.


Published in April 2010 by Faber and Faber, I much prefer this version – though it might also be because this is cover of the book that I’ve read. It is rather brooding with a stark beauty about it and I also like the way the author and title fonts have been handled. This one is my favourite.


This edition, published by Scribner Book Company in January 1975, must have had poor P.D. James sighing in disgust. What were they thinking? This is a sophisticated murder mystery featuring a nuanced, clever protagonist during a personal crisis. Yet, this looks like something out of a Boys’ Own Annual…


This Spanish edition, produced by B de Books in August 2012 is certainly a lot better than the previous effort. The tower perched on the edge of the cliffs with the sea in the foreground and the deep blue colour is certainly attractive, but I think this cover still lacks sufficient finesse for such a cleverly constructed book.


This German cover, published in December 1998, is a dreadful effort. Someone let the children loose in the graphics department and then accidentally forgot to erase the effort – surely? So we have the photo of a ruined tower grafted over the image of flames which aren’t even to scale, making the whole thing look completely false. And then they further ruined the dodgy effort by plonking a lot of writing on the cover – although, come to think of it, maybe they added it in a vain attempt to draw attention away from the shockingly bad job they’d made. Which is your favourite?

21 responses »

  1. I quite like the first cover. It’s moody and dark(ish) and reminds me of the PD James book that I owned which was a different title altogether but seemed to have the same feel.
    Lynn 😀

  2. Hmm , I don’t know why but the Spanish cover is my favorite , might have something to do with all that Blue . Blue is my favorite color . Cool choice though 🙂

  3. I have to say that my favorite cover is the one for the Spanish edition. I think it conveys a sense of mystery, what with the night and the sea giving this image a sinister, even creepy mood. Besides, I ADORE the color blue, so I HAD to pick this one! Lol.

    The Scribner cover is quaint, and much TOO cute for this type of novel! I think it would be PERFECT for a Tolkien book. I keep expecting a hobbit to walk in or out of that entrance! LOL. As for the monk-like figure to the right, I thought at first that he was part of the landscape….. ROFL!!!! The perspective is just totally OFF.

    The first cover is everything you said and more. It’s just DREARY and BORING in the extreme!

    As for the Faber and Faber cover, it doesn’t appeal to me at all. There’s no sense of mystery or sinister goings on here, IMHO.

    As for that German cover…..OMG. Were they trying to capture the burning of Hitler’s bunker, maybe? INCREDIBLE. I can’t BELIEVE the book covers that get published, sometimes!! And you’re right — the flames are NOT to scale!!

    Thanks for sharing, and for always leaving such GREAT comments on my blog!! Happy Sunday!! ❤ 3 🙂 🙂 🙂

    • Thank you for your entertaining and astute comments – I was rather disappointed with all the covers, although I do think the Spanish cover is very pretty, it isn’t appropriate for the genre:)

  4. Pingback: The Friday Face-Off: The Tower – Books by Proxy

  5. The Spanish edition is definitely my favourite! I love the blue hue to the whole cover and that tower perched on the edge of the cliff above the crashing waves. Stunning and dramatic! 😀

  6. I love PD James! Weeeeeeeeeeeee! Ahem. I’m torn between the second and fourth–there’s something about that tower without color or life surrounded by THE color of life…maybe if there had been just the tiniest glint of fire in a tower window…

    • You’re right – that would have probably made the difference. I got the overwhelming sense that no one bothered very much with these covers, which is such a shame…

      • I suppose that’s the reason. I am very struck that some books have average to bad covers right across the board, while others have simply brilliant covers – and there seems to be no real reason. Some of the most famous authors are the ones with the worst covers…

  7. Oooh, we’re bound to disagree again! *giggles excitedly* While I agree with you that the first one is rather dark and grim, it feels suitable for a mystery book. I like the Spanish one just because it’s aesthetically pleasing, but I agree that it’s not really suitable for a book like that.
    So where’s the disagreement? Your favorite. As much as – again – it has nice aesthetics, it seems more suitable for a contemporary literary fiction or memoirs, not for a mystery.
    So if I were to choose, I’d likely go with the first one – maybe with brighter/more saturated fonts, though, to compensate for the overall grimness.

    • I think you could be right – I have a suspicion that my allergy for gloomy colours generally may have tipped me unfairly against that first effort:).

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