Tuesday, January 02, 2018

What Say You?: Best Crime Covers, 2017

Because we skipped 2012, this is The Rap Sheet’s 10th Best Crime Fiction Cover of the Year contest. As usual, I’ve been collecting prospective nominees for the last 12 months now, browsing bookstores and book-oriented Web sites in search of qualified contenders, and watching design-attentive blogs such as The Casual Optimist and Spine Magazine to see what they showcase.

This is always a very enjoyable process for me. I grew up with an orientation toward design, my father having been an architect with a serious side interest in typography. And one of my first post-college jobs was with the art/production department at an “alternative newsweekly” in Portland, Oregon, called Willamette Week. Through the succeeding years, as I moved from newspapers into magazines, I maintained close ties with the art directors and production staffs responsible for making sure that what I wrote and edited looked as handsome as possible on the page. I learned everything I could from those folks, and believe their influences have helped make The Rap Sheet a sharper-looking product than it might have become in someone else’s hands. (Not to flatter myself or anything …)

The 2017 crop of Best Crime Fiction Cover contestants runs to 15 works, all of them eye-catching and memorable. This shortlist is drawn from a preliminary hoard of 32 covers, a few of which were tough to remove from the competition; but they had to go in order to make this survey more manageable. Several of the fronts featured below were suggested by readers, who answered my invitation of early last month. It’s hard to know which of these will ultimately come out on top, but they all deserve such acclaim—from the pulpy, powerful jacket of Stephen Hunter’s G-Man to Sherri Smith’s psychological thriller, Follow Me Down, showing luxuriant swirls of red hair that suggest an irresistible whirlpool; from the cover of Ragnar Jónasson’s Rupture (with its ominous, seemingly abstract image that, if turned on its left side, is revealed as the photo of a red-roofed building and a solitary figure on a likely frigid coastline) to the comic-book-like art decorating Colin Cotterill’s The Rat Catchers’ Olympics and the significantly more detailed illustration on Marcus Sedgwick’s Mister Memory, with elements inspired by its historical mystery plot.

Below are all of the 2017 nominees, arranged alphabetically and followed by an easy-to-use electronic ballot on which you can make your preferences known. As I did last year (in response to suspected ballot-stuffing in 2015), I am again limiting each poll participant to one chance at choosing his or her favorites; however, you should feel free to register your support for more than one cover on that single occasion. So make this opportunity count! We’ll keep the voting open here for the next 10 days, until midnight on Friday, January 12, after which the results will be announced.

Click on any of the jackets below to open an enlargement.

ONE THING MORE: If you think we have neglected to mention some other crime-fiction cover from 2017 that is also deserving of recognition, please post a comment about it at the end of this piece. Just be sure to include a link to where on the Web other Rap Sheet readers can see that additional cover for themselves.

No comments: