Just before I just into the project, I thought I’d analyse (or at least explore) Marber’s Penguin Books illustrations in order to understand the thinking behind the work, yet bearing in mind that I haven’t read any of the books referenced.
The covers tell the story in their own right and establish the tone and style through simplicity imagery. For example, At the Villa Rose uses superimposed photography to collage hands with a negative eye, which suggests an investigative murder mystery in which the hands infer to suspects. I also had the same suspicions for The Case of the Caretaker’s Cat which shows a dropped hand framed as if it was attached to a lifeless body. As my interpretation suggests, upon reading up on the books, I discovered it was in fact a murder mystery.
The interesting thing about the designs is that they don’t attempt to be detailed and sophisticated paintings, but instead take on a rather surreal and Dada-like quality. They may serve to represent the distorted and twisted world of the characters and the deceptive implications of mystery thrillers. It leaves the reader wondering what will happen in the novel and only gives them a vague glimpse of what lies beyond.