[Supernatural Born Killers] I saw this title, and then the rest of the series, and knew that they deserved a mention here. In addition to Supernatural Born Killers, which is the most recent entry, the Pepper Martin mysteries include:
Don of the Dead
The Chick and the Dead
Tombs of Endearment
Night of the Loving Dead
Dead Man Talking
Tomb With a View
A Hard Day’s Fright
Wild Wild Death (weakest entry)
This is series punning done RIGHT. They (presuming author + publisher) picked a theme: movies. They applied death-related terms to all their chosen titles, without too much reaching. They’ve left themselves lots of room for future titles. *polite clapping*
I came across Christine Warren’s Fixed series (currently being re-released with more “friendly” titles) while I was puzzling out my paperback order today. I think the titles are worth seeing as a group:
Fur for All
Let’s hear it for paranormal puns!
[Jewel in His Crown] I would much rather read The Jewel in the Crown, thank you very much. But! For those of us that don’t have time to read that brick, her name is Ruby! GET IT?
Sheikh Prince Raja al-Somari knows that sacrificing his freedom for the good of his country isn’t a choice; it’s a duty. But he’s going to have to use more pleasurable tactics to convince his new bride….
A day ago Ruby Sommerton was an ordinary girl, going to work and gossiping with her flatmate, now she’s found out she’s a princess and waits nervously in the bedroom of the Prince’s desert palace!
Raja’s new bride has a lot to learn about being a royal, most enticingly of all…how exhilarating nights with her new husband can be—and that an heir is top of his agenda!
[With This Fling…] Pros: A punny title that includes punctuation, a heroine with an interesting job (archaeologist), a heroine who already looks pregnant in the cover photograph, and a hilarious miniseries title: P.S. I’m Pregnant!
Cons: Without reading the book, I’m going to go ahead and say the cons are the plot and the way the book is written.
If you click on the cover, you’ll get to see the nifty Mills & Boon version. So much more interesting!
[Murder Under Cover] The Bibliophile mystery series has an uneven history of cover puns. Homicide in Hardcover and The Lies that Bind are … OK. If Books Could Kill is clearly the winner of the series. This most recent one isn’t too bad, but it isn’t truly awesome/horrible enough to merit more than a passing mention, either. Let’s step it up, people!
[Classified as Murder] Since it’s National Library Week and all, I thought we’d feature a few library or book-oriented cozies. Classified as Murder is the second in the “Cats in the Stacks” series (featuring Charlie the librarian and his cat, Diesel), following Murder Past Due. I’m not a huge cat cozy adherent, but I can definitely appreciate a mild library pun, especially the title of the most recent book. What is murder classified under? My library seems to have it in 364.
We here at Marc of the Beast have been very distressed recently by the trend in cozy mystery titles away from puns and humor (and toward bland descriptiveness). These things are our bread and butter, and—totally unscientific opinion—the better the pun, the more people are probably going to laugh and pick up the book, maybe check it out … right? It’s in authors’ and publishers’ best interests to come up with good (i.e., funny) titles for the SAKE OF HUMANITY. Cozy mysteries: You had a lock on this. Why have you strayed? WHY?
Sure, there will always be horrible—and therefore hilarious—series romance titles for us to mock, but those don’t typically come with “tips” for the reader. PLEASE LET THEM NOT COME WITH TIPS. Imagine a series romance novel with tips on how to have a secret baby. Or tips on how bosses can most successfully seduce their secretaries and nannies. On second thought, imagining that might be the subject of a whole other post.
However, there are some books that are doing their best to take up the mantle seemingly abandoned by the cozy mystery; I recently found a good example in mainstream romance. Kieran Kramer’s Impossible Bachelors series has been gamely punning for several volumes now: First When Harry Met Molly, then Dukes to the Left of Me, Princes to the Right, and now Cloudy with a Chance of Marriage and the forthcoming If You Give a Girl a Viscount. Sure, none of these are earth-shatteringly funny titles, but they’re part of a growing trend that we desperately hope to see (another example: I Kissed an Earl) toward puns instead of away from them.
If cozies aren’t going to step up to the standard that they played an integral role in creating, then some other genre will fill that void. And Marc of the Beast will be there to mock them.