If You Don't Know Them, It's a Crime

For Booklist‘s Mystery Month, we’re inviting respected magazines, websites, and blogs to make a case as to why you should read them (in addition to us, naturally). Today’s guest: More than a decade old—that’s nearly a quarter-century in blog years—this review site has a ton of content and a strict set of standards about what they will and won’t consider for review. I asked the current co-editors, Yvonne Klein and Linda Wilson, to, er, present the evidence for our review. (Sorry, but I really couldn’t think of a play on words more clever than that.)

Please describe your publication.

Yvonne and Linda: is an edited website that specializes in reviews of crime fiction of all kinds, along with a minor interest in fantasy and horror. We insist that our reviewers express their honest opinions, positive or negative, and ask them to reveal any special interest they may have in a particular book or author.

The site was set up in late 2000 by Barbara Franchi and has been in continuous operation since. All reviews are archived and accessible through a search engine on the site. At the moment, we are closing in fast on our 10,000th review. Although our readership is predominantly North American, we attract people from around the world who love the genre. We have a strong British presence, both in terms of reviewers and books published in the UK. In terms of numbers (always difficult to state exactly), in the first quarter of this year, we averaged in excess of 10,000 hits and 3,000 pageviews per day.

Tell us about yourselves.

Yvonne: I posted my first review to the site in 2002 and have contributed regularly ever since. When Barbara fell ill, she and the then managing editor, Sharon Wheeler, asked if I would take over some of the editing duties and, in time, after Barbara passed away in 2009 and later when Sharon found it necessary to withdraw from the editorship, I took on the responsibility for seeing the site continue. Happily, Linda Wilson agreed to look after the UK side of things and she has been able to find and encourage several enthusiastic British reviewers.

Linda: I started reviewing for the site in 2009. Sharon Wheeler, then the managing editor, is a friend of mine and as I’d read crime and thrillers for many years, it seemed natural to take this interest to another level and I soon got in the swing of combining a visit to Sharon’s house with combing through the stacks of books awaiting review to find something that might interest me. Moving into the role of UK editor seemed a natural progression and it’s certainly something I haven’t regretted. I’ve enjoyed building up a network of reviewers and increasing the UK side of the operation. I get to deal with some really lovely people, including reviewers, book publishers and publicists and the range of material we receive is simply staggering. As Yvonne has mentioned, there are certain types of books we’re unable to consider for review, as our capacity is obviously not limitless and it’s necessary to employ some selection criteria.

Who are some of your favorite authors?

Yvonne: I have to confess to a bias toward those who see the genre as an opportunity to explore issues, techniques, or ideas in ways that are frequently under-represented in “literary fiction.” For me, Reginald Hill exemplified the best the contemporary genre affords and I miss him sorely. Though I personally have a limited tolerance for most cozies, our reviewers share no such bias and take every opportunity to comment on the latest in the various different sorts of series. From the point of view of editorial bias, I prefer to feature mid-list and debut writers over huge best-sellers, though we review ’em all.

Linda: I read as a means of escape and in consequence have a weakness for relatively simple narratives that blend interest with action. I like a range of books from police procedurals to thrillers but tend, like Yvonne to stay away from most cozies and I also prefer to avoid the more gruesome end of the serial killer market. I spend several months a year in France and so particular favourites of mine are Martin Walker’s Inspector Bruno series, steeped in the regional delights of an area I know and love, whilst being aware of the more troubled parts of its rich history, and Adrian Magson’s Lucas Rocco books set in Picardie.

Tell us about a recent review or article of which you’re particularly fond.

Yvonne: Speaking of Reginald Hill, the review I did of what turned out to be Dalziel’s last appearance, Midnight Fugue, still makes me happy. More recently I very much enjoyed writing about The Secret in Their Eyes, Eduardo Sacheri, because of the excellence of the book, the fact that the author was unfamiliar to me, and the quality of the translation.

Linda: I also enjoy the opportunity to read some excellent debut authors. One that I particularly enjoyed recently was Good People by Ewart Hutton. This is certainly a series I’ll be keeping an eye out for in future. And when it comes to thrillers, I’m always happy to venture out in the company of Matt Hilton’s Joe Hunter, or Stephen Leather’s Dan “Spider” Shepherd, both of whom come with a built-in guarantee of great action and a galloping pace.

Which other mystery magazines and blogs do you believe are must-reads?

Yvonne: Two other sites I visit regularly are EuroCrime and Stop, You’re Killing Me.

What does the future hold for your publication?

Yvonne and Linda: It’s difficult to say. The genre is flourishing, in some ways as never before, but digital publishing and the easy access to self-publication means that making sense of the flood is increasingly difficult. We’ve never reviewed the self-published nor do we review books that are available only in digital format. There aren’t a lot of us who regularly contribute to the site and none of us are paid so sheer self-preservation means we have to have some means of narrowing down the choices of what we can read and review. Whilst this might mean we miss occasional gems, it also means we don’t become swamped by the sheer volume of material now coming through these routes. Hopefully, our readership will continue to value a site where they can read independent and objective views. Data


Contact emails: Yvonne Klein:; Linda Wilson (UK):

Frequency of publication: every two weeks.

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About the Author:

Keir Graff is Executive Editor of Booklist Publications and the author of five books. His most recent is the middle-grade novel, The Other Felix (2011). Follow him on Twitter at @Booklist_Keir.

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