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ABOUT THE BOOK
The Inside Passage
By Carl Brookins
Paperback: 240 pages
February 17, 2016, $13.95
Also available for Kindle
Murder, Mystery and adventure on the restless ocean waters off the rugged coast of British Columbia. Seattle PR executive Michael Tanner sails to Desolation Sound with his wife and their close friend. It’s a relaxing, shakedown cruise for three amateur sailors. On a foggy morning disaster strikes and Tanner stands accused of negligence. With no help from the authorities, Tanner sets out to find the people who murdered his wife and her friend.
Guest Post by the Author
Thoughts on the role of a reviewer and author.
I’m not a literary critic. I am a reviewer of crime fiction. And an author. It is not my purpose to apply in-depth analysis or to discover the innerdeeperhiddensecret meanings of the crime fiction I read. I bring a critical eye, honed from over twenty-five years of contract and freelance reading and writing reviews for print and on-line periodicals. That experience, reading thousands of excellent, bad and indifferent novels as well as numerous short stories, TV and film scripts, plus writing a few, has given me a knowledge base and some ideas of what constitutes a good novel or short story collection. And even some biases.
I believe that my role as a reviewer is to help bring to reader’s attention stories that are, of interest; stories that are well written, satisfying, entertaining and enjoyable. They must have believable multi-dimensional characters who act in believable and usually satisfying ways to further the aims of the story.
Pace, character, plot and setting are paramount, but not always equal in importance. There better be a really good reason for the absence of one of those elements. These primary elements must interact in ways that serve the story. What about good writing? Good writing can cover many weaknesses but pretty language woven into soaring sentences and paragraphs that make a reader want to smile and stop reading, to spend a moment contemplating the totality of life, but leading nowhere is ultimately frustrating. Characters with no discernable dimension are almost useless. Well-defined plots with twists and turns that lead to no resolutions are provoking and questionable. I hope that my latest novel, “The Case of the Stolen Case” contains no unnecessary characters, that the plot is opaque enough to intrigue mystery fiction readers, and they will enjoy another adventure with my friend, private investigator, Sean NMI Sean.
Raising deep moral questions as character motivations with little or no context is also a way to frustrate readers, and me the critic. I see my role to be that of a taste tester, warning of bad books so you don’t waste your money. I try to identify elements of stories which I am aware are important to some readers. How explicit and frequent is the sex, the violence? Is there violence against animals? Does it appear this is a story from a solid, successful author, that seems to fall below that author’s normal level of excellence?
This all has to be done without revealing too much of the plot and certainly not the reolution. Readers seem to assume that the absence of a review means the reviewer didn’t like the book, which is usually a fallacy. Most reviewers are limited, by time, by assignments, by their reading interests, by the policies of the outlets for whom they write. Most reviewers try hard to be fair and professional in their approach. We tend to believe we have responsibilities, to readers and to authors, to be as honest as we can be. It isn’t always easy. Sometimes it isn’t even fun. Books are frequently purchased on the basis of an author’s name and reputation, so when I encounter a work that is well-below an established standard, I tend to warn readers.
Finally, I believe a good reviewer should focus the review on the work, not on the author of the story. Reviews which criticize the life style of the author or call into question the veracity of the fiction or the intelligence of the author are simply bad reviews. I try very hard to avoid using my own social views as the basis for judging. After all, we’re talking about murderers, thieves, criminals here.
Reviews play a role in the success of books, but they are not the only criteria discerning readers should use. Like our political representatives, you gets what you pays for and what you pay attention to.
A final note to those authors crushed or angered by negative reviews. Fact is, bad reviews sell almost as many books as good, but trashed, lukewarm or highly praised, the worst circumstance of all is to be ignored. So what’s your opinion of all this?
Other books by Carl Brookins:
Tanner/Whitney Sailing Series
A Superior Mystery
Sean Sean Private Investigator Series
The Case of the Greedy Lawyers
The Case of the Deceiving Don
The Case of the Great Train Robbery
The Case of the Yellow Diamond
Jack Marston academic mystery series
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Before he became a mystery writer and reviewer, Carl Brookins was a counselor and faculty member at Metropolitan State University in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Brookins and his wife are avid recreational sailors. He is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and Private Eye Writers of America. He can frequently be found touring bookstores and libraries with his companions-in-crime, The Minnesota Crime Wave.
He writes the sailing adventure series featuring Michael Tanner and Mary Whitney. The third novel is Old Silver. His new private investigator series features Sean NMI Sean, a short P.I. The first is titled The Case of the Greedy Lawyers. Brookins received a liberal arts degree from the University of Minnesota and studied for a MA in Communications at Michigan State University.