Thursday, September 16, 2010


One of the great things about writing reviews for a range of newspapers, magazines, and websites in New Zealand, Australia and further abroad, is that I get the opportunity to write reviews of different lengths for different publications - and also the chance to share my views on various crime and thriller titles with different audiences. It gives me more avenues to try to cover as many of the wonderful (and not so wonderful) crime and thriller novels I'm sent to review, as possible. It's also nice to be able to write slightly longer reviews now and then.

As I said last October, I have started occasionally contributing to Reviewing the Evidence, a website set up by Barbara Franchi in 2001 to help fill the growing void of mystery review websites. It now boasts thousands of reviews of mysteries and thrillers of all categories, and has more than 30 reviewers from the US, the UK, and Australia.

The site is edited by Sharon Wheeler, a UK-based journalist, and by writer and translator Yvonne Klein. I am their first NZ-based reviewer, and I will be looking to contribute semi-regular reviews to their site. Each fortnight or so they publish about 15-20 reviews, and their most recent 'release' included my review of James Patterson and Liza Marklund's recently-released POSTCARD KILLERS.

In POSTCARD KILLERS, touted as "the scariest vacation thriller ever," NYPD cop Jacob Kanon has been chasing a pair of vicious killers across the capitals and holiday hotspots of Europe. Killers who kick-started their murderous spree by butchering his beloved daughter and her fiancé in Rome. Before each murder, a postcard is sent to a local newspaper, but the police remain largely clueless as the murderers run free. When Stockholm-based crime reporter Dessie Larsson receives the latest note, she and Kanon eventually team up to try to stop the killers once and for all.
You can read my review here.

Reading it over now (I submitted it a couple of weeks ago), I may have come across as 'piling on' a little bit, not that I now disagree with anything I've said. I read almost all of James Patterson's Alex Cross novels when I was at high school and Uni (and enjoyed many of them), and have continued to read some of his books now and then, even as he's co-opted various co-authors in recent years. I also think James Patterson has done a lot of great things for literacy, and promoting reading (particularly kids reading). I'd probably give POSTCARD KILLERS a 2-star rating out of 5, where perhaps some people might read my review as more '1 star' in nature at times...

What do you think of my review? Was a bit too harsh on Patterson's latest? Do the things that bothered me about the book (thin characters, cliche and contrivance, etc) really matter when you're reading crime novels? Have you read POSTCARD KILLERS? What do you think?


  1. Craig - What I like about your review is the way you support it. Your review is thorough and although it is negative, it is professional and certainly outlines the plot of the book clearly enough so that readers who may be interested in the book can choose to read it.

  2. I don´t intend to read it as I have thought all along that this would be Marklund selling out. I loved her first handful of crime/thrillers; but in my opinion her latter Annika Bengtson stories (not translated into English yet) are more of a one-woman crusade against anything male than nuanced crime stories. Perhaps she felt it was time to try something new (I agree there), but she should be old enough to know what she does by putting her name on a cover together with Patterson´s.

    So no, I can´t imagine you have been unfair.

  3. I have read it and it's not that bad, but not that good either. I have also tried to read a translation of Marklund that is ot commercially in November, and they could have done a better job. Larssen is so accesible to English readers as the translation is as good as the original; sadly Marklund isn't.
    But I do think it was a canny move on her part to team up with Patterson. That alone introduces her to a big audience.