“Burke shows again that he’s not just a comic genius, but also a fine dramatic writer and storyteller.” – Booklist. “Prose both scabrous and poetic.” – Publishers Weekly. “Proust meets Chandler over a pint of Guinness.” – Spectator. “Among the most memorable books of the year, of any genre.” – Sunday Times. “A hardboiled delight.” – Guardian. “Imagine Donald Westlake and Richard Stark collaborating on a screwball noir.” – Kirkus Reviews. “A cross between Raymond Chandler and Flann O’Brien.” – John Banville.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Watchmen: Who Reviews The Reviewers?

Erm, I do. Occasionally. Or once, at least. Sometimes a review is so badly put together you just can’t help sticking your oar in. Take The Book Critic’s review of Alex Barclay’s BLOOD RUNS COLD, for example. To wit:
According to the blurb, Alex Barclay is the rising star in the world of crime fiction. With this being her third novel, you’d have thought that she might have got into her stride by now and be displaying the talent that her agent and publishers saw in her.
Sadly, with Blood Runs Cold, this talent is yet to show itself.
  This is a poorly plotted, lumpenly-written novel with about as much verve, sparkle and edge as a damp towel. In a genre filled with the likes of Janet Evanovich, Sara Paretsky, Kathy Reichs and Patricia Cornwell, Alex Barclay needs to do a serious amount of work to do more than make up the numbers.
  The protagonist in this novel is totally unsympathetic and the dialogue is at times laughable, often impossible to follow. As a whole, it didn’t feel genuine or believeable.
  Another negative was the glut of supporting characters, none of whom felt real or sharply-enough drawn to hold the reader’s attention.
  I’m sure somewhere in the book is a semblance of a good plot straining to get out, but it’s mired in clunkiness of the highest order.
  Alex Barclay may be a talent, but on the evidence of this, it’s not clear if it will enough to sustain a career.
There’s an old phrase that runs, ‘If you can’t say anything nice, say nothing at all.’ Another version runs, ‘If you can’t say anything original, fresh or constructively critical, crawl back under your stone.’ To wit:
According to the blog The Book Critic, bertieonrob is the rising star in the world of crime fiction criticism. With this being his umpteenth review, you’d have thought that he might have got into his stride by now and be displaying the talent that his ego saw in him.
Sadly, with Blood Runs Cold, this talent is yet to show itself.
  This is a poorly detailed, lumpenly-written review with about as much verve, sparkle and edge as a failed writer. In a niche filled with the likes of Peter Rozovsky, Glenn Harper, Karen Meek and Gerard Brennan, bertieonrob needs to do a serious amount of work to do more than make up the numbers.
  The critic in this review is totally unsympathetic and the critique is at times laughable, often impossible to follow. As a whole, it didn’t feel genuine or believeable.
  Another negative was the absence of supporting arguments for his case, none of which felt real or sharply-enough drawn to hold the reader’s attention. Or existed, even.
  I’m sure somewhere in the review is a semblance of a good critique straining to get out, but it’s mired in clunkiness of the highest order.
  Bertieonrob may be a talent, but on the evidence of this, it’s not clear if it will enough to sustain a zzzzzzzzz ….
  For those of you interested, here’s a rather different take on BLOOD RUNS COLD.