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  • Writer's pictureThe Publishing Post

Genre Spotlight: Crime Novels

By Abbie Wright, Laura Wallace and Tessa Thejas Thomas


In this issue, we’re looking at cover designs in the crime genre. Crime novels are particularly interesting as their designs often attempt to convey elements of the story whilst also ensuring there are still some elements of mystery for the reader. Here are some of our favourite designs.


The Man Who Died Twice by Richard Osman


Richard Osman’s second book in his Thursday Murder Club series sees the gang delve into Elizabeth’s past whilst uncovering a mystery surrounding stolen diamonds and violent mobsters. The second book has an intriguing cover as it sticks to a similar design pattern as the first, with minor changes that give the audience a small peek into the novel’s plot. Once again, the image of the fox is prominent in the centre of the page, now sporting a black mask over its eyes. The fox connotes the sly and clever characters that Osman will present in his story and the mask refers back to the classic movie character images of robbers, which again tells the reader that this mystery surrounds robbery and deceit. Using this central image to tie in all the novels in the series is a smart idea as it ensures that the series is immediately noticeable whilst also creating a sense of identity for the books. The cover’s font remains the same as his first work, harking back to the dramatic crime novels of the past, with its bold and dramatic colour and design. The use of a bold blue for the outline and spine of the book ensures that Osman’s whole series of novels work together cohesively. Overall, the cover is one of the best in the crime genre due to its bold, old-school style, which tells the reader that there is a mystery to be solved and that there will also be a lot of fun along the way.


Liar, Dreamer, Thief by Maria Dong


Liar, Dreamer, Thief has it all in terms of book cover. It looks edgy, eerie, cool and somewhat alarming. This is not only a gripping psychological thriller/crime novel, but also a thoughtful narrative into mental health. Katrina Kim’s fantasy world is blurred with her own world; the interesting story unravels through her use of coping mechanisms, including finding her favourite children’s books in her sight when feeling anxious. There are a number of twists in this book that keep you turning the page through the rather unhinged narrative.


The cover of the book is dramatic and chilling yet enticing to the reader. The use of capital letters and etchy typeface, alongside the bold colour scheme, gives an indication to the reader that the book is going to be unique. The first thing your attention is drawn to is the bright fuchsia of the face against the stark black and white of the girl’s eye. The artist/designer has created an image of the girl showing a disturbing combination of feelings, including total fear and total determination. The contrast of black and fuchsia create a strong image. The edges of the design lead out from the stark black into dark purple indicating the dreamer, fantasy and magical elements of the book. There are images covering the face in uneasy positions, including a postcard over the eye of the young girl and the bridge sprawling over her cheek. The cover of this book is one that has really drawn our attention, and every time we look at it we feel a chill.

Portrait of a Thief by Grace D. Li


Portrait of a Thief follows a group of Chinese American students on a heist to steal priceless Chinese art from a museum. At the request of a Chinese organisation, the characters aim to retrieve the art in return for millions of dollars. The cover puts emphasis on the main character and leader of the heist, Will Chen, a Chinese American art student. The cover follows its title, Portrait of a Thief, and uses Will’s portrait as the main image. This gives the reader a good early understanding of the protagonist and their identity within the story.


The varying hues of blue significantly contrasts the pop of muted yellow in the glasses. Not only is this pleasing on the eye, but it also emphasises the reflection in the glasses as the main focal point of the novel. In the reflection of Will’s glasses, various art pieces are hung up on the wall of a museum. Art is central to the novel. The reflection in the glasses represents the driving force of the heist; the art is essentially what each of the characters have their eye on. The use of glasses also represents deception and secrecy, themes that are prevalent in the novel and important to accomplishing the heist.


The striking glasses and bold white text adds an element of fun, implying that the novel will be fast-paced and high action. Heists in media can often be represented in this way to keep the attention of the consumer.

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