Dark Hearts of Chicago

First impressions. March 5, 2007.

I received a review copy, an uncorrected proof. It has the proof ISBN 9780091795924. My copy is what I would call a trade paperback, just over 23 cm (nine inches) tall, 15 cm (six inches) wide, and 3.5 cm thick. I'm impressed by the physical presence of the book. There's a heft to it.

The background color cover shades from near-black at the top to a wine red sort of color at the bottom, with a subtle urban image--I get the impression of shoreline, the edge of a bridge. The title lettering is a sort of grey tan, and the author names pinkish. On the right side is a standing woman wearing a feathered hat and slightly disarrayed clothing. The feather is pink, the clothing paler tones of pink and yellowish; the woman herself, and the chair she stands beside, is in shades of grey with a slight brown tone.

I'm very taken with the cover, the use of the black to red shading with the lettering's very pale yellow a good contrast. The hard to interpret urban scene, very subtle in shades of darker greyish on the red, intruiges me and sets the tone for a mystery.

The woman is a strange element of the cover, to me. Her pose and expression are ambiguous, and the use of color and lack of it—particularly that pink feather—leaves me not sure what to make of her. I have a vague impression of her as a dancer, and I'm interested to know if that will be an aspect of the story; equally, she might not represent any particular character in the novel. No doubt I will find out as I read.

The back cover shades from near-black to red, without any further decoration. On this background, all in tan, is a blurb about the story, some bullet-points of information about the novel and the authors, and the notation FREE PROOF COPY - NOT FOR SALE. Last, before the contact information of the publishers, is the publication information:

April 2007 9780091796532 £12.99 Royal hbk 640pp
Proof ISBN 9780091795924

An imprint of the Random House Group Ltd

I'm glad to have the publication information confirmed on the proof itself, and particularly what to call Hutchinson. So imprint is the word; I wasn't sure what Hutchinson was, specifically, in terms of being a part of Random House.

The interior of the book is laid out well, in a serif font with plenty of margin space. The spacing is just about what it should be, to my eyes, with sufficient white space for comfortable reading (and a wide enough gutter that the words aren't tucked tight against the inside), but not so much space as to make me feel the text has been padded.

On every page, except the first page of each chapter, is a running head. The first chapter's is:

Thursday, October 19, 1983 6.37 AM

I'm impressed by the running head, and I think including the date and time is a great move--in any book where the exact time-setting is important, I tend to find myself flipping back to the start of the chapter of wherever it was noted; for Dark Hearts of Chicago, I'll need only to check the top of each page. I think this will smooth keeping track of the story as I read it, which I am looking forward to doing.

— Katherine Delany
Monday, March 5, 2007

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