Books / Features

Christmas Gift Guide 2020: Books – Murder Maps: Crime Scenes Revisited; Total Geek-Art; and Make Time for Creativity

Yes, it’s that time again for our Gift Guides to make their way into your eyes, and suggest things we think you’ll love – whatever you love in this world! This time out, we’re looking at a very specific selection of books that take us through real-life crime scenes, absolutely iconic pop culture art and also helping you plan your Creative time and ventures with real organisation! Let’s get into it, there’s some special titles here…

Murder Maps by Dr Drew Gray [Thames & Hudson]

In the world of entertainment, it seems we’ve returned to an era where true-life crime TV shows and movies, based on real-life characters, are more popular than ever. Murder Maps, from Dr Drew Gray, accompanies this new intrigue as a beautifully macabre gathering of crime scenes revisited with phrenology, fingerprints and plenty more as he delves through the years – and across the Globe – with intricate detail and informative insight, even if the subject matter is undoubtedly dark and deadly, in a literal sense of the events covered.

This cartographical exposition has been compiled by Dr Gray, who is a social historian that specialises in crime and punishment, and is also the man who recently put forward the theory that there’s actually a different suspect for the Jack the Ripper murders. Trust us, he knows his stuff. In both the darkest and explanatory sense, this is a historical retracing of crimes with as much accuracy as viable, obviously based on recorded facts.

But Murder Maps isn’t just about statistics, it breaks the process down, including known movements of the killers, the murdered and eventual locations of bodies. It really doesn’t seem like anything is left out. So, if you’re a fan of the true anatomy of a crime-scene, and everyone involved, then this is for you. What also makes the book particularly smart isn’t just the depth of the data, alongside original photos or images (and maps) depending on the era, but it also highlights the evolution of Policing, through their changing and progressive methods, and the developing technology (photographs, fingerprints and even radio telegraphy) across the years, offering us a inimitable insight into the rise of the detective.

Focusing specifically on the murky world of 19th century murder across the Globe, explicitly covering 1811 to 1911, Dr Drew Gray’s book precisely spotlights some of our most unfortunate regions of the world, and the grisly happenings that plagued society at the time. From London to Liverpool, through Glasgow, Paris, Vienna, Budapest, Prague and Madrid, Dr Drew is taking us on some of the shadiest trips across the countries and continents, and isn’t afraid to give us everything we’re looking for. There are also trips coast-to-coast in the USA, alongside the likes of Australia, as we visit Victoria and New South Wales’ history.

Granted, the subject matter is a sombre one, but Murder Maps wastes no time in presenting original crime-scene pictures, plans of the areas, stories of incorrect convictions, murder weapons, scientific tests at the time – that could prove or disprove theories, which makes it all quite fascinating to the involved learner. Do be aware though, if you’re squeamish or think this is something quite different, there are heavy details shared. You’re never far from a disturbing story of mass murderers being left to wander Auvergne in France, killing people of all sexes and ages, for example. Gray’s book also examines these moments influence on society (and societies’ response) and how much we’ve learn along the way. It explores the realms of human behaviour and psychology, as this type of reality remains (no pun intended) an intriguing, disturbing insight into the world of murder.

Murder Maps won’t put you at ease but if you’re discovering criminology, or just have an interest in the morbid, this proves crime has always been here and we’re continually trying to find new ways to track its progress. I also loved the black edges of the pages, which made it feel more like the time its portraying but, of course, from the safety of home and then it finishes us off with an impressive criminology matrix that lists every murder you read about, the whole collection is ridiculously impressive work.

Murder Maps: Crime Scenes Revisited is out now:

Make Time for Creativity: Finding Space for Your Most Meaningful Work by Brandon Stosuy [Abrams Image]

“I still feel weird about saying that I’m an artist… people assume that you’re well off, and you don’t actually have a job…” – Emma Kohlmann (Visual Artist)

Brandon Stosuy’s Make Time for Creativity is a wonderful insight into the world of creatives folks, much like me, and is designed to try and help you make the best of your time, which seems even more appropriate in 2020. It’s also a good cue to get creative things into your life, and even more so if you’re looking to push your way in that world with your talents!

We all know there are endless various ways of working, and that any artist will find ways of doing (or not doing) things, but there’s also little doubt of how much help some of us need to push it into action. It’s all very well loving it, but why not make it into a career, if you can? But, quick disclaimer, the isn’t all career-driven though, and feels like you can pick out the advice you want, because it’s also a handy steer to making that time more consequential, and not just a chore.

Described as a part-artistic retreat, part-guide to taking on that passion to live a productive life (something I definitely don’t do enough), Make Time for Creativity is quintessentially a self-guide featuring a huge amount of contributors, all eager to offer up their experiences and knowledge. It focus on daily rituals to get you brain heading in the right direction (actually dedicating time to you and your work, properly), opening up the question of what your intentions are, plus direction on setting goals, alongside the clear importance of downtime to help you find that work-life balance – I will endeavour to remember Tina Roth Eisenberg‘s advice about giving time to your inner self, which we all know this year has been a huge challenge, whatever your profession.

To keep you in the right mindset, the book also has a lovely typeset (designed by Kristian Henson), keeping it to a similar style of a lined notebook but with highlighted quotes and pointers, whilst maintaining it as a black font on a white page that’s easy to read between the various sections. The highlighted bits also give you valuable reminders, literally picking out the things to consider, so you can come back to this at any point and pick up on those suggestions.

To aid that process, Make Time for Creativity also offers YOU places to write, giving you the lined space to reveal your views, or thoughts, on what you’ve just read, thus enabling the process of getting things into action. All-in-all, this is a great guide that’s not over-baring and offers a terrific equilibrium of insight, opinion, and enough positive ponderings to help you put your own concepts into action.

Make Time for Creativity is out now:

Total Geek-Art by Thomas Olivri [Cernunnose/Abrams]

There’s no doubt of the impact of pop culture on our modern society, and in recent years more than ever. While we’ve always had an attraction with celebrity culture – trust me, take a look back to Time magazine of the 1940s and old newspapers in the early 1900s – the invention of the internet alongside the progression of film-making, TV and music into our lives has thrown pop culture into the crowd and we’re never letting go.

Total Geek Art celebrates a wide selection of some great artists whose work is both inspired by that world, whilst also giving us a look into their back catalogues. The man behind the compilation is Thomas Olivri, the creator of, which celebrates even more popular art of that world. But this book isn’t just nice images, it must be known that the world of prints has become ever wider and are now seriously collectible, with major companies running limited print runs and immediately selling out, as collectors become the receptacles of original modern art.

If pop culture art really appeals to you, or you’re just new to the game, then this will set you up nicely (I have to also recommend The Art of Mondo as well, which is also enthralling), because Olivri offers readers an incredible array of 80 different artists, painters, illustrators and even sculptors. Some of my favourite artists featured in the book include Laurent Durieux, Joshua Budich, Jorge R. Gutierrez, Dan Mumford, Tibor Lovas, Abigail Larson, Dave Pollot, and various others of all styles and experience. And, thankfully, Total Geek-Art features a plethora of styles, insights, genres and invention to inspire, excite and send you a sprawling hope of searching on the Artists websites, or even eBay, which is a touch I like – for that perfect poster or print.

If you find your new obsession or favourite, let us know, I already have a ridiculous collection of work from the likes of Jock, Mark Englert, Daniel Danger, Olly Moss, Matt Taylor and many more. The only thing missing? I would have loved an Index that gave us a rundown of the films, or other inspiration, as they’re all connected to something. I often find that these art books might have that and without it, you can’t narrow down the thing you might specifically be looking for. It’s good to know the artist but you can also discover artists by connecting to a piece of their work that ties up with a film or show you love.

While that additional would make Total Geek Art even more complete, this remains a solid purchase for anyone you know who’s into their pop culture art, and always eager to expand their knowledge and awareness of the artists behind the creations.

Total Geek-Art is out now


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