About Me

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Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada
I am a lawyer in Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada who enjoys reading, especially mysteries. Since 2000 I have been writing personal book reviews. This blog includes my reviews, information on and interviews with authors and descriptions of mystery bookstores I have visited. I strive to review all Saskatchewan mysteries. Other Canadian mysteries are listed under the Rest of Canada. As a lawyer I am always interested in legal mysteries. I have a separate page for legal mysteries. Occasionally my reviews of legal mysteries comment on the legal reality of the mystery. You can follow the progression of my favourite authors with up to 15 reviews. Each year I select my favourites in "Bill's Best of ----". As well as current reviews I am posting reviews from 2000 to 2011. Below my most recent couple of posts are the posts of Saskatchewan mysteries I have reviewed alphabetically by author. If you only want a sentence or two description of the book and my recommendation when deciding whether to read the book look at the bold portion of the review. If you would like to email me the link to my email is on the profile page.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Petrona is Gone

The lovely image from the top of Maxine's blog, Petrona
I have given eulogies, written reflections, presided at prayer services, prepared obituaries and expressed my sympathy in letters. Each time it was for someone I knew physically. Tonight I think about a virtual friend, Maxine Clarke, sadly gone.

I wish I could have met her but do not regret not having spent time in her physical presence. She was a friend from the internet. The web has provided new opportunities to make friends around the world.

As I ventured into this new world I soon encountered Maxine. Her formidable knowledge of crime fiction was a touch intimidating for the depth and breadth of her reading was striking.

She was generous in acknowledging fellow bloggers. When she read and reviewed the books of Gail Bowen and Anthony Bidulka from Saskatchewan she always included a reference to my blog and kindly acknowledged she was reading them because of me.

My most direct contact and enduring memories of Maxine come from her comments on my blog. After coming to understand her great learning of crime fiction it was with pride I would see a comment from Maxine on one of my posts.

Many comments are quite general in nature. Maxine was never perfunctory. She had considered the post and reached a conclusion and expressed her opinion clearly. I looked forward to Maxine’s comments.

Her last comment on my blog on Taken by Robert Crais reflected her style:

I agree with your views on this book, Bill. It is certainly a page-turner but there is little character or charm that characterises some of the Elvis books. I thought it went off a bit once Joe went out into the desert. Somewhat of a book for those in love with weapons!

Her knowledge of the genre is readily apparent in her comment to a post I wrote about the first twenty years of Harry Bosch:

This is a great post, Bill. It is fascinating to read your views on the evolution of Bosch. I think this series did go through a bit of a "low" a few years ago, around the time of "Void Moon". It was still pretty good, but not quite up to its own standard. I think that at that time, Connelly was trying to make Bosch a more rounded man via his romances, but those have failed and I think his solution of the daughter as a main character works really well. I know quite a few men who are pretty tough in their professional lives but change completely where their children are concerned.

I agree with you about Bosch as the classic "driven" detective. As Margot has mentioned, in the earlier books (immediately after The Black Echo but before he broke off with The Poet) I think that Bosch found out, or tried to, about his parents. The father theme came out much later also, in The Lincoln Lawyer. As a result of that experience, he became even more alone and isolated professionally, locked into his long-running feud with Irvin Irving. I think your point about Bosch now playing the bureaucracy, instead of simply head-butting with it, is a very astute one. I hadn't picked that up but it rings true.

In crime fiction there is usually some element that I find lets a book down. Usually it is the resolution of the crime plot, which is often forced and unconvincing. Another common failing is the "dramatic ending" with shootouts, hero/heroine in peril (having not called for back up), etc. Connelly avoids both these pitfalls, I think - he does not usually go for the "over the top" elements. I agree that his villains can be weak as characters but personally I don't like reading too much from the "sick mind of the villain" point of view, so I am glad he does not go in for that. One book where I think Connelly did very well on the balance between horrible crimes and not being gratuitious is The Scarecrow.

Overall, Connelly is my favourite crime fiction author and has been for years. He has not let his readers down with fame, but continues to deliver exciting and "different" books, while, as you point out, developing characters very well over a series.

Not many people are mourned round the world. The posts expressing the grief of the crime fiction bloggers span the globe.

I respected Maxine’s knowledge, appreciated her skills with words, admired most of her opinions and am saddened by her death. My virtual world is diminished by her loss.

My sympathy to her husband and family.

8 comments:

  1. What lovely sentiments you have expressed Bill, ones I echo. It is somehow comforting to know that there are people dotted around the globe all thinking similar thoughts.

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  2. Bill, thank you for the heartfelt tribute to Maxine Clarke. One of the first things I discovered about virtual friends in the West was their humility in visiting blogs irrespective of who the blogger was or which part of the world he or she lived in. People like Maxine who visit blogs and leave thoughtful comments are a constant source of inspiration and encouragement to bloggers and writers alike.

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  3. Bill - This really is a lovely tribute. One of the things I always liked about Maxine is that when she commented, it was obvious that she respected the blogger enough to have read and thought about the post. And you're right - she always was so kind about acknowledging others. We were fortunate to have her among us.

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  4. Bernadette: Thanks for the comment. We are always within reach of each other.

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  5. Prashant: Thank you for a wonderful comment. All of us could benefit from reflecting on how we can encourage others in the ways Maxine encouraged us.

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  6. Margot: Thanks for the comment. I have drawn on Maxine's example in seeking to make comments on other blogs that consider the contents of the post.

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  7. Bill - thank you for sharing your kind thoughts about Maxine - good memories are hard to find.

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  8. Anthony: Thanks for the comment. I hope you can find some good memories.

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