First, the artwork. Gordon Crabb's work is of what one might call the 'realist' school: his covers pick out the two or three key characters, in poses and uniforms that suggest instantly their roles, and place them in front of a montage of locations and vehicles which let the reader do an instant join the dots and create a rough and dirty idea of what they're dealing with.
The covers below (a mixture of original art and the art in situ) are finely detailed and, having read the story, the characters and illustrations are instantly recognisable: with the assassins on the cover of Yesterday's Spy, for example, you can feel your face blasted with the dust blown up by the spinning rear tyre. But here's my question: having seen the front cover, does the image create a character, or rather augment the written word of the author and fix in the reader's mind an image of that character. Does it, in other words, dull the imagination, or inspire it?
I ask because when I first read Berlin Game, Mexico Set and London Match in their original covers, the apple jacket designs by the legendary Ray Hawking were abstract - they hinted at something, riddles you knew would unfold once you opened the covers. Intrigue. Betrayal. Corruption. All in one simple, apple-y metaphor.
Deighton didn't think so; as he explained on this blog recently, he stopped repeats of the series precisely because the actors selected didn't match his understanding - in his mind - of how the characters existed.
|Original cover art for Declarations of War
|Original cover art for An Expensive Place to Die
|Original cover art for Bomber
|Original cover art for Violent Ward
For comparison, check out the cover images for Faith, Hope, and Charity: