07 January 2021

Review: Death of a Typographer by Nick Gadd

Death of a Typographer by Nick Gadd book cover
This was so much fun! Death of a Typographer is a geeky font lover's crime novel written by talented Australian author Nick Gadd and is unlike anything I've read before. Set in Melbourne, our main character Martin Kern has typomania and an unusual sensitivity to bad font. Martin uses his skills to solve typographical crime (brilliant, right?) but when a local printer is murdered, he's drawn to investigate the death of the title along with journalist Lucy Tran.
"Like all journalists, she used fonts daily, but it had never occurred to her to wonder where they came from or who made them. It was like peering through a microscope and discovering that a glass of clear water was teeming with life." Page 70
Death of a Typographer is full of clever font references but you don't need to know much about font in order to enjoy the jokes. I'm sure there were some I missed, but that's all part of the charm.
For instance, I loved the description of the world of Dark Type (Dark Web) on page 185 as containing: font anarchists, urban type guerrillas, swash junkies, glyph hackers, psychotypographers, punk calligraphers, cryptosymbolists and anarcho-punctuationists.

In this cozy mystery, amateur sleuths Martin and Lucy put their investigative skills to use in order to get to the bottom of a series of murders and determine if there really is a secret font designed by the reclusive - and possibly deceased - Dutch designer Pieter van Floogstraten. Is he a genius? Is he crazy?
"There's something about a life spent fiddling with serifs and glyps that can addle the brain. They call it 'font rot'. The history of type is littered with madness, destruction and death. Remember Cobden Sanderson? Tossed all his type into the river Thames to stop anyone else from using it." Page 184
This reference to T.J. Cobden-Sanderson was my favourite moment of the book, having learned about the legend of Dove Type while reading Mudlarking - Lost and Found on the River Thames by Lara Maiklem in October 2019.

Death of a Typographer by Nick Gadd is an entertaining read, with a fresh slant (get it?) on the cozy crime genre. Highly recommended.

You can seize this book at Booktopia.

My Rating:

Would you like to comment?

  1. Great review Tracey! I’m a Creative Director so this right up my alley!!

    1. That's so great to hear Jan, and in that case (see what I did there? LOL) I think you might enjoy this. I hope you check it out.


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