Last July I was lucky enough to speak briefly at a CWA dinner and I used some of the time to thank reviewers and bloggers, usually working unpaid, who contribute so much to informing readers of the choices available – by extension also helping writers and publishers – and who too often go unsung. One of the people uppermost in my mind was Maxine Clarke who died yesterday.
Now I only met her once – at CrimeFest in 2008 – and I am not aware she ever reviewed a book of mine. That’s not my point.
Maxine’s interests and hard work were helpful to many people. Her blog at Petrona was an object lesson in the intelligent uses of the democracy inherent in the social media. Of course it was subjective – she had her preferences and tastes – but it was civilized, generous, and proportional. Never aggressive or self-indulgent, she helped other bloggers, and many readers, with an endearing mix of scepticism and enthusiasm - scepticism of hype, bombast and over-statement, and informed enthusiasm for what she valued.
This is not at all a small talent.
I am aware, of course, of her scientific background and job, of what her loss must mean to her family and friends, but here I wanted to mark a quality of true generosity that is rare – and worth praise.
Thank you, Maxine.