For Mysteries & More!

By Its Cover: The Martini Shot

Martini ShotHow do we choose what we read? Reviews? Word of mouth? Familiarity? Or by its cover?

I’ll admit the first thing that caught my eye about this book was its title: The Martini Shot. Then I noticed it said “a novella and stories” and that it was by George Pelecanos.

Now, working in a library, Pelecanos is an author I’ve heard of. Someone I’ve certainly considered reading before. Seeing the size of the book and the fact it’s a collection of stories makes it more appealing to try.

As for the black-and-white image, it creates the feel of a noir style. Just off to the left a man and woman tussle in bed while the man reaches for a bottle of champagne. Yet beneath the yellow letters of the title a man in shadow is surrounded by equipment suggestive of a film or photography studio.

I must say I’m intrigued.

The inside cover description begins, “whether they’re cops or con men, savage killers or creative types, gangsters or God-fearing citizens, George Pelecanos’s characters are always engaged in a fight for their lives.” After teasing some of the stories within, the description reveals, “In the title novella—which takes its name from Hollywood slang for the last shot of the day, the one that come before the liquor shots begin—we go behind the scenes of a television cop show, where a writer gets caught up in a drama more real than anything he could have conjured for a script.”

Now, I’m hooked. At the very least, I’m interested in reading the title story, The Martini Shot.

What’s your process for screening books to read, browsing for new authors, or deciding what you’ll read next?


For a look at more classic and contemporary book covers, check out my sister site, The Poisoned Martini+, for a more visual approach to looking at the mystery and fantasy genres.

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