Friday Faceoff – Murder Most Foul… #Brainfluffbookblog #FridayFace-off


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, at present this meme is being nurtured by Lynn at Lynn’s Book Blog. This week the theme is a cover featuring a murder scene, so I’ve selected A Cold Day for Murder – Book 1 of the Kate Shugak mysteries by Dana Stabenow, see my review here.


This edition was produced by Gere Donovan Press in December 2012 and it’s apparent from the design and emphasis on the author font and title, that this is already an established, successful series. That said, while I very much like the chilly landscape, I wonder if that ugly red blob announcing this is the first book in the series really has to be there.



Published in February 2011 by Poisoned Pen Press, this is my favourite. The snowscape is effectively bleak, while that pool of blood provides a real visual shock – so effective against the stark white snow. I also like the way the red is also introduced into the title font, mirroring the artwork. The overall effect is both eye-catching and eerie – just what you want with a murder mystery set in Alaska.


This edition, published by Gene Donovan Books in March 2011, is frankly a mess. Those ugly blocks top and bottom overlaying the artwork merely have me peering through them to try and work out what is going on underneath, thus ignoring the vital author and title font. And when I do focus on the narrow strip in the middle – it’s not even a coherent image. There is a bisected face of the protagonist chopped in half to make way for a vista of a snowy mountain landscape. It seems they are trying to cram onto the cover far too much without executing any of the elements with much thought or care.


This Italian edition, produced by Newton Compton in 2011, is certainly a lot better than the previous effort, but has evidently decided to play upon the popularity of the CSI franchise on TV. That would be a smart move if this book was a police procedural with a heavy emphasis on the forensic details of the crime – but it’s nothing of the sort. Instead it focuses on Kate Shugak, an Innuit ex-police officer struggling to cope after a traumatic incident left her professional career in tatters… As a result all that emphasis on CSI merely gives readers the wrong impression about this enjoyable, well-written whodunit. At least the image is suitably eye-catching and effective.


This edition, published in December 1998 by Book on Tapes Inc., is my second favourite. I love the simplicity of the cover, which nonetheless conveys the stark setting and Kate Shugak’s isolation really effectively. The font is well designed to be part of the overall artwork and as a result, looks stylishly classy and eye-catching. Which is your favourite?

33 responses »

  1. I agree with your favorite! The touch of red in the title is what does it for me! So much attention to detail. I know the red blog with “1” on the 1st cover is an eyesore but I appreciate they are making it clear. Some books are so hard to tell that they are in a series and that drives me nuts!

    • Yes – that was a daft bit about it. It’s a great whodunit with a protagonist who is outside law enforcement for all sorts of reasons – so why they decided to lump it in with the CSI franchise beats me.

  2. I like the first one the best, with the snowy background and the wolf (?) and I could like the second one if they had just gone with the snowy vista and left the rest off. 🙂 I like the last one though too, you’re right it’s stark and simple but effective.

    • Yes… it’s a funny old mixture this week. And I thought it was a wolf,too. I can’t recall if the body they discovered had been partially eaten. Thank you for swinging by and have a lovely weekend, Greg:)

  3. I think the first two would make me want to pick the book up and read what it was about (although I agree about the ugly blob on the first one – it really annoys me when publishers do this). The third one is awful, it’s as if they couldn’t decide how to market the book so have shoved a bit of everything on there. It looks a mess. I think on balance the second one is the best cover – it captures the essence of what the book is about.

    • Yes – I’ll be honest, it’s a while since I read anything by Stabenow, too. Himself is a solid fan who has read most of her books, though. And I entirely agree with you regarding the red blob!

  4. I agree with your favorite choice. It caught my eye right away and seems to fit with the title of the book the best. The CSI one caught my attention just because I was a huge fan of that show, but given what you said about the premise of the book, it seems odd they would go that route.

    • Yes – if this was a book that fitted the premise, it would be a smart marketing move – but given there is hardly any forensic analysis and Kate Shugak is far more your traditional PI, then it seems a really silly thing to do. I’m wondering if there are a number of reader review rants in Italian to that effect…

  5. Hmmm. I admit the last one’s use of shadow for a border around the text was smart, but I think I’ll take the red blob of the first cover over the huge hiker on the last. That said, I totally agree with you about the pool of blood cover being the best–startling image, indeed! Arresting, even! Get it? Eeeeh? I’m hilarious at daybreak. 😛
    But that one spliced image of the mountain and the chick…that was ridiculous.

  6. To me, the first one looks the most professional and clear, though the pink-red font aside, it somewhat misses the “murder” part.
    The second one had a potential, but to me it was wasted with a few design issues: the picture is murky (not enough light), and the white bar on top makes me wonder if the picture wasn’t big enough for the whole cover. Also, light gray on white doesn’t seem the best choice for making the title stand out – a must in a cover…
    My first thought about the third one is that looks like a traveling bulletin cover, and I agree that the fourth – even though eye-catching – might not be the best kind of cover.
    The last one makes me cringe – maybe because it aged badly and looks like something put together in Canva in 5 minutes…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.