Friday Faceoff – Straight roads do not make skilful drivers… #Brainfluffbookblog #FridayFaceoffroadcovers


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 meme is being nurtured by Lynn’s Book Blog and this week we are featuring covers with a ROAD on them. I struggled a bit this week, but in the I’ve selected The Crow Trap – Book 1 of the Vera Stanhope series by Anne Cleeves.

Pan MacMillan – October 2001

This edition was produced by Pan MacMillan in October 2001. It’s very plain – just black lettering on a red background, with a single feather. I wish they’d left it at that and had resisted the temptation to add the chatter, because with such a minimalist approach, any extra fluff really jars, as in this case. The lettering is slightly fuzzed, which I really like, because it forces me to refocus on it, pulling at my attention for a second look. If it hadn’t been for the extra line of chat, this would have been a real contender.

Minotaur Books – February 2017

Published in February 2017 by Minotaur Books, this cover is another strong contender. I just wish they’d left off the ugly button featuring Brenda Blethyn, who plays Vera in the very strong TV series. But I love the outline of the crow against the plain purple cover, showing a deserted barn in the desolate countryside, which is part of Vera’s patch. Overall, I think this is another strong, effective design that works well, with plenty of visual appeal.

Pan – April 2016

This edition, published by Pan in April 2016, is the first to feature a landscape. And what a dark, brooding landscape! It’s this cover that caused me to choose the book for this week’s theme and I have to say that I love it. The wild moorland, the rutted road and that gorgeously ominous sky. This would be my favourite, but for my concern that the feel and tenor of the cover is more suited to a horror thriller, rather than a rather downbeat police procedural murder mystery. And that ghastly blob, of course.

Pan Publishing – August 2010

This edition, produced by Pan Publishing in August 2010, is even bleaker. That midnight blue suffusing the cover, with the image of the crow dangling from the barbed-wire fencing definitely gives this one a strong horror vibe. The reason why I suppose they feel comfortable using such bleak imagery, is the very clear lettering announcing that this is a Vera Stanhope novel. It’s also significant that by now, the author’s name is larger than the title, which shows the success that she had achieved by then. Although the TV series wasn’t aired until 2011, so this cover was designed before then.

Russian edition – April 2020

This Russian edition, published by Эксмо in April 2020, is another cover featuring the bleak but beautiful Northumberland coastline. The aspect of the cover that particularly caught my attention is the way the title is resting in amongst the grass, seemingly rooted there. It creates an interesting and unusual visual dynamic. This one is my favourite – it gives a sense of menace, without a strong horror vibe. I’d pick this one up, whereas I think I’d probably leave most of the others on the shelf. Which one is your favourite – and have you read the books, or watched the TV series?

22 responses »

  1. Pingback: The Friday Face-Off: The Road Goes Ever On and On – Books by Proxy

  2. I like all of these for different reasons, but I think overall you’ve picked the best one as your favorite. I love the title font (even though I can’t read it!)

    • You’re right! A crow wheeling in the distance would have been brilliant! And if you get the chance, Vera is – in my opinion – better than the Shetland series to watch, as it’s far less grim and gloomy!

  3. I really love the images on the Pan 2016 and Russian covers – such beautiful, dark and dramatic landscapes. I think I’d go for the Pan cover overall but I really wish they wouldn’t print those ‘stickers’ onto books!

    • I know! I HATE those horrible stickers, too! It seems such a shame that someone takes time and energy to design a gripping image – and the marketing people slap a sticker or strapline across it…

  4. I agree with you about the Russian edition. I’m not familiar with the book but based on your description, it sounds like that one definitely stays the most true to the overall vibe of the book. I do like the purple one but mainly just because that’s my favorite color, haha.

    • I love the colour purple, too:)). But I think the Russian edition is truest to the book’s vibe – and at the end of the day, that has got to be the most successful. I HATE it when I pick up a book on the strength of the cover, only to discover that it has been completely misleading.

  5. I do love that dead-ish crow hanging from the wire, but you’re right about the vibes and author name–her name’s as big as the crow! The title font nestled into the bleak grasses is very alluring, indeed. 🙂

    • It’s such an apparently minor detail, but doesn’t it give the cover a classy feel? I do find it both instructive and fascinating to take a hard look at a number of covers for the same book and work out if they are successful and why:))

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