Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Book Covers with Clout

I've been thinking about book covers this week and the impact they make. We live in a heightened visual world these days, so the cover of a book HAS to grab a reader or else he or she will move on. The cover goes hand in hand with the title, of course, and often reinforces, questions or shows some kind of twist on the title itself.

Here are a few recent and new covers for Psychological Thrillers that are BIG on impact, in my view. I've not read any of them (but they're now on my wish list!), so my judgement, like any browsing reader, is purely based on instant response. What do you think?

Nuala Casey's novel, Summer Lies Bleeding comes out in August 2014. The image tells a story of its own. It instantly says 'city' with the flats in the background. Dawn is breaking and there's no one about. Centre stage is a lonely bench in a park and someone has left a scarf behind. It's the colour of blood and stands out. Questions go racing through my mind straight away. Whose scarf is it? Why did they leave it? What has happened just before this seemingly innocent picture?

Here's what the jacket says:

'Four lives are about to come crashing together...

Devastated by the murder of his sister in Soho seven years ago, Mark Davis travels to London to carry out an act of violence that he believes will avenge her death. PhD student Stella is returning to London with her partner Paula to visit a fertility clinic. But Stella is hiding a secret that could tear their lives apart. Recovering alcoholic Seb has left his wild days behind him. But a chance encounter with a stranger brings back tragic memories and puts his family in serious danger. Kerstin Engel is a brilliant but troubled research analyst. But an unseen enemy lies in wait and threatens to destroy her career and her mind.

As crowds gather in Soho to mark the restaurant launch, a terrifying sequence of events brings these characters together and the last days of summer to a shocking end.' 

The Back Road by Rachel Abbott shows an action shot of imminent danger. There's a woman in the distance on a secluded road late at night, a car heading straight for her. This implies an angry or purposeful driver who isn't about to pull over. The yellow of the headlights is startling and dominates the image, which is full of shadows, telling us it's going to be a dark, chilling read.

The blurb says:

'A girl lies close to death in a dark, deserted lane. A driver drags her body to the side of the road. A shadowy figure hides in the trees, watching and waiting. For Ellie Saunders last night's hit and run on the back road could destroy everything she has. She was out that night, but if she reveals where she was and why, her family will be torn apart. She is living on a knife-edge, knowing that her every move is being observed....'

Out today, Mr Mercedes is a new departure into Psyche Thrillers for Stephen King. I like the grim grey cover - a kind of nightmarish image - with one umbrella standing out from the crowd. It tells me the story is about someone who is going to shake everything up and the title gives us the name of that person, by the matching colours. It's clever. It feels very Stephen King! Here's the jacket blurb:

'A cat-and-mouse suspense thriller featuring a retired homicide detective who's haunted by the few cases he left open, and by one in particular - the pre-dawn slaughter of eight people among hundreds gathered in line for the opening of a jobs fair when the economy was guttering out. Without warning, a lone driver ploughed through the crowd in a stolen Mercedes. The plot is kicked into gear when Bill Hodges receives a letter in the mail, from a man claiming to be the perpetrator. He taunts Hodges with the notion that he will strike again.'

Now that You're Gone by Julie Corbin is out on Friday, 5th June. The words dominate the image and when we look underneath them we see nothing but an expanse of water. The ripples imply that something (or someone, given the title) has gone into the water and isn't coming back. Gone for good. The lone leaf floating on the surface adds a touch of fragility and vulnerability. It's yellow and therefore stands out - indicating in this context, a thorn in someone's side, a sense of unfinished business.

'When the body of Isla’s brother, an ex-Marine and private investigator, is pulled from the River Clyde, she is convinced he was murdered. When the coroner declares Dougie’s died of accidental drowning and rules out foul play, the police are happy to close the case. But Isla has other ideas.

Determined to find out what really happened the night Dougie died, and why he was even in Glasgow, she starts looking into his unsolved cases. What she finds will put her in grave danger and force her to question everything she thought she knew about those closest to her . . .'

I'd love to hear your views about book covers that you've been drawn to. Let me know!
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AJ Waines is the author of Psychological Thrillers:  The Evil Beneath and Girl on a Train. Both books hit the Number One spot in 'Murder' and 'Psychological Thrillers' in the UK Kindle charts.