Under Cover

May 7th, 2012

This is the potential cover for THE FAME THIEF.  Thoughts, anyone?

THE FAME THIEF is the third Junior Bender Mystery.  I finished it this weekend and am surprisingly happy with it.

For those of you who have read the Junior books (Kindle only, at this point), he’s a burglar who moonlights, often under compulsion, as a private eye for crooks.  In this book, he’s commanded by the world’s oldest still-dangerous gangster, Irwin Dressler, to find out who destroyed the career–and the life–of a 21-year-old starlet named Dolores La Marr, who was named “The Most Beautiful Woman in the World” all the way back in 1950.

Thus, Junior finds himself working a case in which all the suspects–those who are alive, anyway–are in their 80s and 90s, and one with its roots in the nature of fame back in the middle of the 20th century, when scandal was a disaster rather than a good career move.

Big chunks of the book take place back then, in the 1940s and 50s, and I wanted the cover to convey something of that period.  I think it works, but have a few reservations and I want to know what you all think.

I’m reading the book to Munyin right now, and she’s loving it.


20 Responses to “Under Cover”

  1. Gail McNally Says:

    I like the book cover, although it may need something more or different to convey the period at issue in the investigation. Maybe a bit more “oomph”. I’m not a graphic designer, so I’m not sure what that “oomph” would be. Either way, I’m excited that there’s a new book on the horizon.

  2. Dana King Says:

    I like it. The shackles on the spotlight beams are a nice touch.

  3. Lil Gluckstern Says:

    I like the changes you described in your “Murder is Everywhere” blog. This one feels too austere to me, Oomph is definitely needed, or what they call “pop.”

  4. Tom Logan Says:

    Sorry, Dana, I don’t like the shackles on the spotlight beams. They seem hokey and trite, added not for design but because they could be and someone thought it was clever. I like the design without the shackles because it is eye-catching and does, somewhat, convey the aura of long ago glamor and Hollywood.

    A greater difference in font sizes for the title and the author would avoid the confusion of “Timothy Hallinan” being seen as part of the title.

    I can’t wait to read it–looks delicious.

    Thanks, Tim, glad you’re back.

  5. EverettK Says:

    First: I’m extremely jealous of Munyin!

    Second: LOVE the cover! It does convey to me the 40s and 50s. I agree with your comments on Murder Is Everywhere that the HOLLYWOOD sign and the “Junior Bender Mystery” line need to POP more, although I’m not sure that “police handcuffs” in place of the “bracelets and chains” would necessarily be an improvement. Maybe, maybe not. When I first saw the cover, my very first impression (thanks to the bracelets) was of the search lights turning into slim arms/wrists that the bracelets encircled.

  6. EverettK Says:

    Actually, I should amend my comment:

    I’m extremely envious of Munyin.
    Jealousy has such a negative connotation. Play with words all you like, but use them like a scalpel. 🙂

  7. munyin Says:

    I have to pinch myself. What amazing good fortune to be thanked by Tim when he’s sharing this amazing story with me. I LOVE this book and how inside the story I get. Tim has a way of burrowing me deep inside the time, the environment, and the characters. I feel like I’m watching a really good movie and can’t wait for him to continue reading…

  8. michael hallinan Says:

    I agree with Tom Logan that the shackles are unnecessary and detract from what I assume is the film noir mood the cover intends to invoke. (I’m thinking of the Black Dahlia) That being said I still like the cover. My only artistic concern is that the shackles weaken the message to some degree by saying too much. Everyone is a critic, trust your own judgement its usually right on the money.

  9. Gary Says:

    Like it. Like the shackles.

  10. Usman Says:

    Hi Tim,

    I’ve been recalling the various Elmore Leonard covers I’ve seen, and that made me pick up one title instead of the other. Where Hollywood is concerned, I’ve always went for the brighter more glamorous ones. I know youre aiming for a noir look. I don’t think this conveys it. But that’s me. I do agree about the font size of the title and author name.
    I think, you should give us a choice of covers. That would be more objective.

  11. michael hallinan Says:

    What I should have said is that I like the cover despite the shackles. The Junior Bender books are my favorites and I’m looking forward to the new addition. Usman reminds me that I haven’t had this much fun reading since Elmore Leonard. Tim, you are in a very exclusive club. The brother that doesn’t matter,

  12. Timothy Hallinan Says:

    First of all, thanks to everyone for pitching in. Here’s the take-away: (1) We’re looking at a different font although my designer points out that the title font is almost identical to the Hollywood sign font, and all designers hate to mix up fonts. (2) The handcuffs are being modernized to look less like shackles and more like police handcuffs, since that’s what they represent in the story. This entire book came to me after I imagined two premiere spotlights handcuffed together and then sort of invited the appropriate story to arrive. I ain’t losing the handcuffs because I’m superstitious and I owe them the book, which I really, really like at this point. (3) We’ll be making the H’wood sign brighter and detailing the buildings a little, although I like the period Allen (the designer) chose when almost the only thing I told him was that I wanted the handcuffed spotlights and that the story took place partly in 1950.

    This has been very, very helpful, and thanks also for all the kind words about Junior. It’s been years since I had this much sheer fun writing a book, and I’m sort of juiced that it seems to be okay — if my adored Munyin (thanks for the comment, Mun!) is any indication.

    God willing and the creek don’t rise, this will be available in a month to six weeks.

  13. Tom Logan Says:

    Works for me.

  14. Gary Says:

    Please don’t change the font. It contributes a lot to the 50s feel.

  15. Usman Says:

    I think you have a post to write about how the handcuffs inspired you to write the story. I would love to hear about that.

  16. Sharai Says:

    I’m jumping in here a little late but had to tell you I love this cover. I even like thinking of Timothy Hallinan as The Fame Thief. I grew up under that Hollywood sign and I read anything that displays it. Sometimes I’m disappointed, but I know I can’t lose with this one!

  17. Keri Knutson Says:

    I mentioned on Facebook that I love the graphic, but didn’t love the font. Let me amend that: I think the title/author font works, but I don’t like it for “A Junior Bender Mystery.” For some reason it looks kind of dated, and not in the throwback Hollywood noir way you’re going for.

    Won’t stop me from reading it!

  18. Julie Evelsizer Says:

    I like it. But if the shackles are supposed to be handcuffs, make them look like handcuffs. These make me think chain gang. And are they gold as in the sense that fame is “golden handcuffs” trapping one in luxury and notoriety? Then that’s a whole different concept from being on the spotlights because of the thief, in which case they should be regular standard-issue police cuffs. That’s a little confusing to me. Will be downloading as soon as the book comes out!

  19. G Thomas Gill Says:

    What the cover says to me is Noir. The searchlights in the darkness have several layers of meaning. The uppermost layer is they make me think of the wartime ’40s, when the threat of a bomb falling on LA was an ever present danger. The shackle placement is a nice touch, obviously a clue but still enigmatic enough to give pause.

    Great cover.

  20. CK Says:

    I came over to tell you thanks for commenting at Schooled in Mystery today but got caught up in this cover discussion (plus the advice on finishing a novel, which I LOVED). What a great site!

    This cover is gorgeous! Love the whole noir vibe and the clean lines. I wonder if you could move the title down to just *above* the “A Junior Bender Mystery”? Maybe in a different color? Then pull the city up (if that makes sense) slightly higher, to show MORE darkness on the cover behind the now-lowered title. Then the skyline stands out a bit more and your name at the top stands out a bit more, too…just a thought. 🙂

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