Tuesday, 18 February 2014

cover up

My wife is (obviously) not a very judgmental person. However, there are some books which she really doesn't want me to read when I am sitting next to her on the tube.

Dorothy Dunnett is one of my favourite writers. It is hard to describe her books without them sounding much worse than they are. I spent two months in 2002 obsessed to the point of mania with her fourteen book epic historical romance cycle (not really my genre). And her Dolly books are the cleverest, subtlest and best-written detective thrillers I know. They are not well-served by their covers. Here is a fullish collection.

Above is the exception. The one truly good cover any of the books has. Most of the books were reissued with different titles when Dolly and the X Bird made them look as if they were something they weren't. The reissues are boring but, in the context of a tube, acceptable. So, Bird of Paradise is the same as Tropical Issue.
Now we come to the covers that my wife despises. I particularly love them, partly because they are so deceptive, which actually suits the books in various ways but I can't help feeling it's counterproductive. In each of the following cases, the second is paired with the first.

Ah, I don't have a copy of boring-covered Roman Nights / Starry Bird. Here's a picture of one from a different series of these books - the only series I don't own a cover of. They're not bad, actually. I would definitely be allowed to read them on the tube.
Dolly and the Starry Bird (aka Roman Nights) (aka Murder in Focus) (Johnson Johnson, Bk 4)
The next pair are a bit different. Instead of the boring cover, I have another Nanny Bird cover which is, I think, even more horrifying than the original. (It is also the prelude to another upcoming set of old book covers.)

Rather miserably, by the time DD wrote her final Dolly book, the titles had already been changed, so there is no Bird version. Therefore, I picture the American edition. They had ANOTHER set of different titles, and this one is fun, isn't it?

I've spent the last few years saving them up and reading them in the sun on a summer holiday. I only have Moroccan Traffic to go. I'm a bit sad about it, but I will get by.

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