4th Book, book covers, update

April 2021 Update

Hello, all. I hope you’re feeling swell and staying motivated. I’ve got 3 items of news to share.

First, my e-books are on sale ($1.00 or an equivalent amount in your currency) until the end of April. The link is here.

Second, my fourth book has a title — The Five False Suicides. You can expect a synopsis along with cover images in the coming months. Publication date–I don’t want to say. I’m always wrong.

Lastly, as my twitter followers know, I’ve been collecting 1st editions of Christianna Brand books. It’s not a brilliant collection; some are US and some are UK, but I’m very happy with it. My goal was to collect all of her adult mystery novels. The only two I am missing are The Three Cornered Halo (described as a comic mystery) and Ring of Roses (written under the pen name Mary Anne Ashe.

Death In High Heels

This is the UK first edition. The cover’s quite nice, a minimalist drawing, suggesting a fun and stylish boutique murder mystery.

This was not published in the US market for some time, so there is no US cover with which to compare it.

UK 1 US 0

Heads you Lose

Mine is a 1942 US first edition. The publishers over at Dodd-Mead handled the U.S. release of many British crime writers (including some broad named Agatha Christie) through their Red Badge Detective label. Heads You Lose won Brand a cool grand in Red Badge’s biannual (?) prize. The title alone is worth a thousand. This cover is some Dali/Bunuel type of shit. Maybe a little Monty Python? It’s not entirely appropriate for this book, but it’s interesting.

The UK first edition is…different. Not bad, but not nearly as memorable.

UK 1 US 1

Green For Danger

I have the UK first edition. Oddly enough, the US edition was published first. It is the same image as above, only bigger. (All the US editions are bigger than the UK editions–It’s almost like we have book envy.) Anyway, since the US edition came first, this is a US win.

UK 1 US 2

The Crooked Wreath

1946 US first edition. That’s right, this book was published in the Unites States first with the title The Crooked Wreath. To be more precise, it was first published in my hometown newspaper, The Chicago Tribune under the title, One of the Family before it was published in book form as The Crooked Wreath and finally in the UK as Suddenly at his Residence. In a twist of cruel fate, the UK title is the preferred title and the UK edition is worth a lot more money.

To be honest, I prefer this cover–another superb job by Red Badge Detective. Unfortunately, given how Suddenly At His Residence is the preferred title and the cover image is quite good, I have to give the point to the UK.

UK 2 US 2

Death of Jezebel

1948 US first edition. The last of my Red Badge Detective publications. This cover is amazing. It’s vibrant, mysterious, and I love how they had to put A Modern Mystery so that no reader would assume it was about Lancelot’s solving of a murder.

I much prefer it over the (quite frankly) homely UK first edition.

UK 2 US 3

Cat and Mouse

This is a US first edition. Expect a review before the end of the year. I love the scratches of white and the literal cat’s paw threatening the house stranded on the cliff.

I also quite like the UK cover. We’ll give them both a point.

UK 3 US 4

London Particular

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1952 UK first edition. This cover has grown on me. Brand’s 1950’s mysteries were published by Michael Joseph Ltd. which was subsequently bought by Penguin. Their style seemed to be more understated, perhaps a bit more elegant, sleeker.

Though I like the US first edition (which I also have), it’s wrong for this book. It’s kind of like they listed all the elements, taped them to a wall, and threw darts to select which ones would go on the cover. If F. Scott Fitzgerald ever wrote a murder mystery, it should have looked like this. Oh, and the unfortunate name change. Point to the UK

UK 4 US 4

Tour de Force

I own both US and UK, so we can compare. Above is the hideous UK version. Is that a voodoo doll? None of Tour De Force‘s stylish fun is suggested by this monstrosity. Below is the US version. Not great at all, but the clear winner of the two. I’ve found that none of the various reprints are that good either. No one has made a great cover for this great book.

UK 4 US 5

The Rose in Darkness

This one is easy. It was only published in the UK. It’s a fine cover and interestingly enough, the notes on the inner sleeve specify that it’s not so much a whodunit as a novel about murder. (Emphasis added.) If I do a reread review of all these later this year, I’ll focus on that.

Final Tally

UK 5 (they won twice with no opposition, but whatever) US 5 (Tour De Force was a cheap win)

Do you agree with my score? Which cover is your favorite?

19 thoughts on “April 2021 Update”

  1. The dust jacket of several of them is in excellent condition. Congratulations!

    Was Death of Jezebel the most expensive of the lot, even if the condition of the DJ is not quite as good as that of Cat and Mouse, Green for Danger, and Death in High Heels?

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    1. No, from Death in High Heels to Tour De Force, the prices are in perfect order from most expensive to cheapest. Death of Jezebel has a reputation as a hard-to-find book, but it was harder to find a copy of Heads you Lose with any sort of dust jacket.

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  2. The phone version of the wordpress app gave me the impression that this was going to be a review of Cat and Mouse and I admit I came in a bit giddy to see someone else’s opinion. This was interesting though, and… damn, you have all these!?!?!

    My favorite is actually the US edition of Heads You Lose. I’ve seen it for sale on eBay recently and thought that it was an interesting style. I’m not sure that I’ve ever seen the UK cover for Cat and Mouse, which is pretty cool. Anyway, I’ll always go for the style of art that you get on paperback editions from the 40-60s over a hard cover. Hard cover art is rarely as interesting imo.

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    1. Heads you Lose is def unique. Inside the book, there is mention of Red Badge’s eight points they considered when awarding their $1000 prize. Someone on Facebook found the eight points:
      1. A sense of reality is imperative.
      2. The book must be written in competent English.
      3. The climax of the story should preferably come as a surprise.
      4. The novel should avoid banalities.
      5. Action must move steadily.
      6. The detective is the most important figure in the story.
      7. The crime should be murder or potential murder.
      8. It must be entertaining.

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  3. I’m a fan of that US Death of Jezebel cover — partly because of how well it reflects the plot,and partly because it’s just a damn cool image. The one for Suddenly at His Residence is a favourite, too.

    And The Five False Suicides is a wonderful title — really looking forward to more updates on that, hope the writing’s going well.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Well, this way you can follow it up with The Four Something Somethings, then The Three _________ _________s, and so on…starting at five is more satisfying for that sort of endeavour đŸ™‚

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  4. The US cover of Heads You Lose is pretty good, but it could have been much better if the arm matched the rest of the drawing. As it is, it looks as if someone put a Halloween sticker on it. Death of Jezebel, again the American version, is superb except for that freaking eyeball. Why does it glow when the rest of the eye/face is darkened? That’s the real mystery!
    Red Badge’s eight points are something else. Most are relative and depend on the reader. The funniest bits? The book must be written in competent English and be entertaining. As if some would decide, by choice, to send the most boring piece of crap written in the shittiest English possible.

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  5. Looing forward to your next book and thanks for sharing its title.

    What a great post as a good number of these covers I haven’t seen. I do like the US cover of Heads You Lose and will look for to buy this one if it comes available.

    One of the prizes of my GAD collection, I have a near fine, first edition of The Rose in Darkness. It is signed by by her with the inscription, “Christianna Brand her own copy 1979” with another inscription, “But she sends it with love to Audrey and Leslie Charteris and she’ll get another for herself, Christianna Brand, 1984. Won’t it be awful if you don’t like my ‘freaks’ either.”

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    1. That’s awesome!

      I bought Heads You Lose off a guy who runs a guitar shop in Southern Illinois. One of his friends has given him the task of selling his mother’s prized mystery collection. It’s stunning how many first editions (all US) he has for sale. The mother was born in 1907 and began collecting in her early twenties. I was eyeing his copy of The Screaming Mimi, but my book collection days are over. It’s too expensive of a hobby for me.

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  6. Beautiful covers! My copy of Death of Jezebel is a shabby library book . . . still, I shouldn’t complain as I seem to be one of the 47 people on earth who possess an actual copy. Good luck on Ring of Roses, my friend. Only Ben has that book. Maybe we should drive out to Colorado, take him to a Starbucks and read it aloud together. If he resists, surely you can come up with some murderous scheme . . .

    Honestly, why is it so difficult for publishers to get things right?

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    1. Possibly creepy development: I noticed a few Ring of Roses paperbacks for sale before I published this post. (Don’t quote me, but I believe it was published as a paperback under the pen name and as a hardcover only after Brand was revealed as the author.) After publishing this post, they’ve all disappeared–even the lowlife charging a hundred bucks for a reading copy on eBay has either sold his copy or removed his listing. It’s almost as if the internet found out I was collecting Brand’s books and made sure I don’t get that one.

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      1. Guilty as charged. I saw Ring of Roses available for the first time ever for sale. So I bought one of those copies straight away on Ebay that is in very good condition. Looking forward to reading it.

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