The Bomb Squad

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This is the second book cover I’ve designed for Neil Perry Gordon, the first being for The Righteous One which was published in August last year. Both novels have New York City as a location but The Bomb Squad differs substantially from the metaphysical drama of The Righteous One by opening with a real event, the bomb attack in 1916 by German agents on US munitions being stored on Black Tom Island in New York harbour; the bomb squad of the title is the group of men who lead an investigation to prevent further outrages.

Rather than take a figurative approach with this design I opted for a collage of historical details. This seemed a good way of immediately establishing the period and location as well as reflecting the piecemeal nature of police investigations, the accumulation of evidence and so on. Collage also made it possible to include references to some of the locations in the story such as Black Tom Island (from a map at the Library of Congress showing the extent of the bomb damage), the Dakota Building, Ellis Island, etc. The five symbols below the title are from a book of heraldic designs, and relate to the Jungian archetypes which one of the detectives assigns to each member of the squad. The symbols aren’t labelled so the reader can decide which symbol relates to which character.

The Bomb Squad is available now from the usual outlets.

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The Righteous One

The Righteous One

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Another week, another new book cover. Author Neil Perry Gordon was in touch earlier this year asking if I could create something for his latest novel set in New York City. Gordon’s previous novels have been historical narratives about the city’s Jewish community; The Righteous One (subtitled “A Cobbler’s Journey into the Dreamworld and Beyond”) follows suit but is slightly different in having more of a fantasy theme:

The Righteous One is the story of Moshe the cobbler, a gentle, sixty-year-old tzaddik—a righteous and saintly Jew—who is called upon to rekindle his divine connection to the Almighty in order to destroy the notorious New York gangster and rasha Solomon Blass, a man who uses his power of foreseeing events via his vivid dreams to advance his own financial interests.

For a guide to the visual content I was given this illustration from Camille Flammarion’s L’Atmosphère: Météorologie Populaire (1888), a picture whose antiquated appearance has often led it to be taken as a much older engraving. It’s also one of those occult or mystical illustrations you see reproduced in many books about magic or the supernatural without any reference to its origin.

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Neil’s request was for his book cover to show a similar barrier between the worlds with his cobbler character being caught between the wake world and the dream world. An engraved style wouldn’t have suited a story set in New York City (even the NYC of the recent past) but I also didn’t want the cover to look like a piece of typical fantasy art filled with Photoshop mists and translucent layers. The final design is modelled on the bolder art styles of Tarot cards, hence the flattened perspective, simplified colouring and distinct outlines. I spent some time researching old New York for this one as I wanted the buildings and street lamps to look accurate. Did you know those old “bishop’s crook” lamps come in a variety of different shapes? I didn’t until working on this.

The Righteous One will be published next month as a Kindle paperback.

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Les Terres du Ciel