Maxine Clarke

19 12 2012

I was just thinking last night that I hadn’t updated this blog since last month when I addressed the thoroughly depressing topic of sockpuppet reviewers on Amazon. The piece mentioned two outstanding and honest reviewers who continued to post to that site.

And then I saw Karen Meek’s note on Twitter about the death of one of those reviewers. Maxine Clarke had been battling cancer for some time.

I regret that I never met Maxine in real life. But we’d chatted by email, on Facebook and on Twitter, and I loved our conversations. We had our media backgrounds in common as well as a passion for crime fiction, and would frequently bemoan declining writing standards in both fields! She wasn’t a great fan of Facebook, but would add typically astute comments to some of the discussions on my page.

Maxine was one of my favourite reviewers, and I enjoyed her blog, Petrona, thoroughly – there was always good conversation to be found there. She had a tremendous knowledge of crime fiction, and her reviews were always literate, honest and constructive. Everything she wrote radiated intelligence.

I remember a few months back discussing Tana French’s Broken Harbour with her. Maxine had loved it; I wasn’t so convinced, despite being a big fan of French. And I owe two great finds to Maxine’s enthusiasm – Anya Lipska’s Where the Devil Can’t Go, and David Belbin’s Sarah Bone series.

I’m going to miss her loads, as will the authors she championed and the readers who knew they could rely on her fair judgement.