Tuesday, February 14, 2012
Today is Valentine’s Day, an annual holiday that apparently started out as an occasion to honor several early Christian martyrs known as Saint Valentine, but has since become an opportunity for candy, greeting card, and jewelry makers to peddle their wares. Nobody who visits this blog on a regular basis would expect me to mark this date with extravagant romantic verses. Instead, it’s a ripe chance for me to exhibit some of my favorite book covers--those endowed with romantic-sounding names, even if the stories they contain don’t offer much in the way of happily-ever-afters.
The 29 fronts embedded in this post all contain the word “kiss” in their titles. Most are works of crime fiction. But that’s about where their similarities end. You’ll find illustrations here by artists as varied as Robert K. Abbett, George Ziel, Robert Maguire, Ron Lesser, James Avati, and Barye Phillips, the last of whom painted the “good girl art” for the 1951 Gold Medal edition of To Kiss, or Kill, by Day Keene, that’s shown above. This is by no means an exhaustive gathering of covers along this theme; I’ve left out such obvious other candidates as Wallace Stroby’s The Barbed-Wire Kiss, James Patterson’s Kiss the Girls, Ronald Tierney’s Good to the Last Kiss, and of course Ed McBain’s straightforward Kiss, the wrappers of which aren’t as striking as those below). However, I think it’s a good, representative sampling. You might be amazed to discover how many novels--and not simply those plucked from the mystery and thriller stacks--incorporate “kiss” in their names. Then again, given the obvious human attractions of that word, maybe you should not be.
Click on any of the covers below for an enlargement.
ADDITIONAL ROMANTIC ENTANGLEMENTS: “Valentine’s Day Mysteries,” by Janet Rudolph (Mystery Fanfare).