Maxine Clarke and the Power of Book Blogging

This post was contributed by U.S. author and blogger Patti Abbott, who blogs at Pattinase.

Maxine Clark, who died in December, ran a blog for some years named Petrona. I spent some time looking at it over the last few days, noting that although our tastes in crime fiction are somewhat different, our intentions are remarkably similar. And that intention, also shared by many readers here, is to proclaim loudly the joy we take in reading at a time when it is under siege. Bloggers, criticized by many as people that need to announce trivial things, have stepped in to lend a hand as book reviewing by newspaper outlets has hit an all-time low. Whereas a new book ten or twenty years ago could expect to garner dozens of reviews, that number has greatly declined.

The number of book stores continues to shrink and the ones that remain only keep a small number of books on hand. Browsing in a bookstore will soon be impossible for most people. Online or virtual bookstores will be what’s left to us. So how do we learn about new books of interest? Blogs and websites will continue to serve this function.

I have noticed an explosion of talent in both mainstream and genre writing in the last few years, which makes the contributions of book blogs even more relevant. Of course, there are sites like GOOD READS that helps to spread the word. But blogs are more personal and collect devoted, like-minded audiences that look to certain people to locate and discuss books that interest them. I think Maxine Clark served this function particularly well for many people, reading dozens of books every year and writing fine, lucid reviews of them. Certainly she took joy in it, but I think she also looked on it as service to the reading community. Readers enjoying the classical mystery or the traditional police procedural were well served by her. And her blog gathered together the audience for these books.

She is one of the forbearers of this new way to transmit book news and will be sorely missed. A blog of six years, as hers was, covers a lot of novels. I can see from her blog that she was one of the early fans of Nordic fiction, reviewing books from that part of the world early on. Her blog will remain live through the efforts of friends like Margot Kinberg. And isn’t that the most fitting tribute for a reader. That people will be able to read her reviews for years to come.



Welcome to Petrona Remembered

MaxineThis site celebrates the memory of Maxine Clarke who, among the many roles she undertook in her life, was a passionate advocate of intelligent crime fiction. So far-reaching was her influence upon the genre’s readers, writers and fans that members of the crime fiction community have come together to build a permanent online tribute to Maxine following her death late in 2012.

Our first aim is to develop a resource for current and future fans of the genre and we want you to help us. We’re asking writers, bloggers, readers, translators and anyone else who loves a crime or mystery novel to send us a submission about that book. It can be a a review, a pitch, a love letter, a poem or, a video. Or something else entirely. Each week we’ll post a new submission and, over time, this site will become a jumping off point to a world of much-loved crime fiction.

Please do take a moment to read more about Maxine and how to make a submission to this site or, if you already know which book you want to tell us, and the world, about drop us a line. You do not need to be a blogger or writer or even have known Maxine to participate here, you do need to love at least one crime or mystery novel and be willing to share your thoughts with us all.

We’ll start publishing your submissions in March 2013 and we thank you in advance for helping to create what we hope will be a terrific resource as well as a fine tribute.