Saturday, January 19, 2019

Killer Covers at 10: A Calendar of Crime

Calendar of Crime, by Ellery Queen (Pocket, 1953).
Cover illustration by Richard M. Powers.

I know I didn’t plan ahead of time that the debut of my main blog, The Rap Sheet, back in May 2006, should have taken place on Arthur Conan Doyle’s birthday; that was simply a fortunate happenstance. I don’t recall now whether I intended the launch of Killer Covers to occur on what would have been Edgar Allan Poe’s 200th birthday—January 19, 2009—though I may have done, as I commented on that anniversary in The Rap Sheet.

Regardless, the point is that as of today, I have been writing and editing Killer Covers for a full 10 years.

This blog has grown and changed considerably over the last decade, as I’ve adjusted my expectations for it. In the early days, I penned fewer posts, and those I did turn out were mostly longer contributions that employed a single vintage book as the jumping-off point to discuss the more extensive work of an individual author or cover artist. (See, for instance, this write-up about Harry Olesker’s Now, Will You Try for Murder?; or this one concerning Frank Kane’s once-popular Johnny Liddell novels; or this other piece having to do with Michael Avallone’s The Voodoo Murders, a 1957 paperback that featured artwork by Mitchell Hooks.) Over the last couple of years, my objective has been to increase the number of posts appearing here by combining quick-hit subjects (such as those in my “Two-fer Tuesdays” and “Book Fixes” series) with themed strings of entries (among them the recent “Twelve Dames of Christmas” lineup) and more extensive tributes to specific artists (my focuses on the artistry of Robert Stanley and Ron Lesser last year having been prime examples of such projects). I don’t think I have yet figured out the ideal mix, one that keeps this page lively without overly taxing my energies; but achieving that goal is likely to maintain my interest for years to come.

To commemorate Killer Covers’ ninth birthday in January 2018, I put together a set of nine attention-grabbing paperback façades that had been added to my computer files during the previous 365 days. This time around, I’m going to celebrate with a year’s worth of books bearing titles that include the names of months—our own “calendar of crime,” if you will. We’ll commence the rollout tomorrow with a January title, and move on from there, one book per day, through all 12 months of the now 437-year-old Gregorian calendar. Most of the covers to be featured have been chosen already, but I’m still looking for stand-out old fronts to represent November and December. If anyone has suggestions, please let me know via e-mail.

So here’s to the coming year of Killer Covers. Let’s hope it meets—nay, exceeds—out hopes for its continuing development.

READ MORE:‘The Purloined Letter’—Mystery Solved, by Susan Amper (Criminal Element); “A Brief and Incomplete Survey of Edgar Allan Poes in Pop Culture,” by Emily Temple (Literary Hub); “You Don’t Know Poe: 10 Weird Things About Edgar Allan Poe,” by Matthew Mercie (

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