Monday, January 27, 2014

You Pick ’Em: Best Crime Covers of 2013

I was deeply ambivalent about getting back into the annual business of picking the “best crime-fiction covers.” You may (or may not) have noticed that, after six years of conducting such reader surveys, I chose not to make the effort last year. That decision was due, in large part, to how tired I felt at the close of 2012; after completing all of my other end-of-the-year responsibilities, I simply didn’t have the energy left to put together such a book-cover poll. But it also reflected my disappointment with most of the possibilities available to me. My personal favorite front of that year (from Blackbirds, by Chuck Wendig) decorated what I ultimately determined was more of a fantasy novel than a mystery, and the other choices available seemed pale by comparison.

Recently however, I took a thorough look back through the jackets decorating 2013 releases in this genre, and I decided to give the project another try.

So below you will find 15 fronts from crime, mystery, and thriller works published last year. All of them, I think, are special in their own ways, whether it’s because of their typographical excellence, their bold imagery, or the manner in which they suggest the intensity of drama to be enjoyed between their covers. It’s hard not to be struck, for instance, by the elegance of the cover of Warren Ellis’ Gun Machine, with its weapon cut from a map of Manhattan; or the artistic subtlety fronting Arlene Hunt’s countryside-set The Outsider; or--again with the equine graphics--the gun smoke curling into the profile of a horse on Linda L. Richards’ Death Was in the Blood; or the seductive and stunning illustration on David Gordon’s Mystery Girl, which harks back to numerous peeping-tom paperback covers from the last century; or the near-playful photograph and delicate lettering employed on Derek B. Miller’s Norwegian by Night (one of my favorite crime novels of 2013), which contrasts so sharply with the propulsive tale inside; or the literally in-your-face artwork swathing Frank Bill’s Donnybrook.

But what are your opinions of these 2013 jackets?

Please let us know. At the bottom of this post you’ll find a ballot on which you can vote for your favorites among the 15 contenders. Feel free to select as many covers here as you think deserve praise. We’ll keep the voting open for the next two weeks, until midnight on Friday, February 7, then we will announce the results.

Click on any of the covers here to open an enlargement.

ONE LAST THING: If you believe we have missed mentioning some other crime-fiction cover from last year that also deserves widespread acclaim, please tell us about it in the Comments section of this post. Just be sure to include a URL with your suggestion, so Rap Sheet readers can see the alternative jacket for themselves.


William said...

I loved everything Europa World Noir did this summer, but Kerrigan's The Rage was probably my favorite. Here it is.

TracyK said...

My favorite covers (mostly vintage) have skulls or skeletons on them, but for some reason, although I dislike guns, I love a cover with a gun. Both Gun Machine and Death was in the Blood have great covers.

The Passing Tramp said...

My two faves are in the top three, I see. Love the planes on Complex 90 and the retro quality of Joyland. Norwegian by Night is definitely quirky.