Book Cover Analysis: Mystery Fiction

Title: A Gentleman in Moscow16808726_10155006732003050_1420167027_n
Author: Amor Towles
Jacket Design: Melissa Four
Publisher: Hutchinson London (PRH imprint)
Date: 2017
Format: hardback
Cover finish: matt lamination with embossing
ISBN: 978-0091944247
Extent: 462
Spine Width: 1.6 inches
Age Range: 16+

I first came across this hardback whilst browsing the Waterstones website. It was both
the title and the cover design which lead me to click on it to read the reviews.

Having not read the book yet (I purchased this today), I can already gather so much about the novel from the illustrations. First of all, the colours (black and gold) connote the Russian culture in the time period of 1922, which also reminds me of the themes of wealth similar to that in Gatsby. In fact, the cover design does resonate that of the graphics used in The
Great Gatbsy 
movie adaption.

Even with only two colours (and some small use of white) there are details on some sections of the design which add depth to the geometric structure. The small image of a well-dressed lady with greyhounds, wine, a clock and a key apply some themes to the title which must be relevant to the novel. If, like me, you haven’t read it yet or even know what it’s about, you can gather from the cover that it is quite stereotypical of Moscow and Russian culture but the plot details stay hidden.

The back cover is where reviews have been 16809452_10155006730603050_2146746161_nplaced by significant organisations – New York Times Book Review, Entertainment Weekly, Washington Times and Kirkus. What is interesting is that underneath these reviews are some one-worded praises of the author’s title Rules of Civility. 

From the front and back cover, the potential reader understands some themes of the novel and know how major relevant organisations have reviewed the book. This is done all before the reader gets to the blurb – after all, it is a mystery fiction. 


The blurb is placed in the front flap. The blurb gives the reader as much information as possible without spoiling the plot. I want to know who this gentleman is in Moscow, and from reading the blurb, I want to know why this man is being kept in a room and if he ever gets out.

Author photo and bio
Gold head and tail bands

Images above my own.

I have found an interesting post about Melissa’s process of designing this book cover here.

As mentioned, this book cover has strong similarity to The Great Gatsby. Here are some of its varied designs:


Found: here.


Found: here


Found: here 


Found: here.

Melissa has done quite a lot of design work as her website shows. A notable one would be the cover for Fates and Furies.


I have seen this book both in Waterstones and online such as Amazon and the colour palette instantly stands out to me. Despite looking different from Gentleman in Moscow, there are actually some similarities – the minimal but bold use of colour and striking yet simple design. It really pops out on the shelves, hence why when I came across this on Melissa’s website, I immediately remembered it.

This cover design also reminds me of Gentleman in Moscow in regards to the format, layout and the colour scheme.



Image above from rom Melissa’s website, here.  

I really like this design. I like the bold yellow and how this contrasts against the black, grey and white. The frame effect around the edge of the cover reminds me of Gentleman. I like the font and the authentic vibe from the overall design together.

What I like about Melissa’s work is that she documents the process which happens when she designs a book cover. It’s unique to see the first pencil sketches and the initial rough designs and ideas – we normally just see the end product so I think it is easy to overlook the effort and detail that goes into a well-designed book cover. After all, this is the fore-front of the book’s marketing.

More of Melissa’s work and book cover designs can be found here.

I have found that Pinterest has a lot of 1920s and art deco-style graphic design and this reflects that used in Gentleman and in the different variations of Gatsby.

Screen Shot 2017-04-10 at 6.46.00 PM.png

In particular, I think the 1920s-style typography is particularly resonant of that discussed above. There are slight differences between each design, but they follow the style of having thick stems on each letter.  It instantly makes you think of the Roaring Twenties era.

After doing some research, this type of font is called Deco Pinstripe. I also found this, which is an art deco typography bundle. This also gives you some of the graphics which is similar to that of Gentleman and Gatsby. 


This can be found here.

Here are some other interesting things…


Found here.


Found here.


Found here.

More interesting things:

History of Typography of the 1920sGuity Novin 

Character AnatomyFonts


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