Mystery, History & some Cartography

One of the joys of being vaccinated against Covid-19 has been the ability to return to bookstore browsing. On my most recent visit to our local indie bookshop (shout out to Newtown Bookshop ) I picked up a copy of Cara Black’s latest criminally fun excursion to Paris. Leafing through the novel before adding it to my to be read pile, I noticed that the book had a terrific Paris 1940 map that highlighted locations in the book. And I was chuffed to note that the map was the work of Valencia, Spain-based illustrator and map designer Mike Hall, who consistently creates all sorts of cartographic designs and artwork for numerous publications. Take a gander at his website, I’m sure you’ll recognize some of his excellent work.

Here’s what Hall had to say about the project:

I was commissioned by the publishers Soho Press to create this illustrated period-style map of Paris for the endpapers of the novel “Three Hours In Paris” by Cara Black (published in April 2020), a thriller set in the French capital during the Nazi occupation in World War II. The map displays eighteen locations around the city that are key to the plot, each illustrated by simple pen sketches, as well as famous landmarks. The brief required the design to resemble tourist guide maps of the 1930s-1940s. To achieve this, I used a limited colour palette and period-style typefaces for the text labels (Brandon Grotesque and Clarendon); I was also careful to ensure that the detail was correct for the period, researching plans of Paris from the 1930s and omitting any modern-day details or landmarks that didn’t exist until later, such as the Périphérique orbital motorway. As a further illustrative touch and to relate to the theme of the story, I had the idea of creating the illusion of pins and string connecting to the illustration bubbles, in the manner of maps created by detectives in their investigations.


This entry was posted in Art, Books, Europe, History, Maps, Writing and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Mystery, History & some Cartography

  1. So glad you were able to get back into the bookstore. In my class, you would have been the overachiever. What a browsing moment you had!

  2. Thanks for sharing. I actually listened to this book, so I was not aware of the maps. But they can definitely be helpful. I have read and loved several mysteries by Cara Black, with her series set in different Paris arrondissements. This is not part her series, and she is so so good in this historical mystery.
    The narrator is fabulous in the audio, which also helps. I reviewed it here (no spoiler):

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