Saturday, 3 May 2008

Early reviews

Inevitably, a writer awaits early reviews of a new book with a mixture of hope and trepidation. Over the years, I’ve been lucky with reviews, and although national newspapers now tend to focus more on best-sellers than when I started out, there is compensation in the rise of the online review.

Of course, the quality of online reviewing is variable – but my impression is that it this branch of criticsm is rapidly becoming sharper and more sophisticated, especially in the case of certain well-established blogs and online magazines.

In the case of Waterloo Sunset, the anxiety as to how reviewers will react has been increased by the fact that nine years have passed since the last Harry Devlin book appeared. The Lake District Mysteries have gained a good audience, both here and overseas, but will the reaction to a resumed series set in Liverpool be quite the same? I haven’t let this worry keep me awake at night – there’s no point in that – but the question has certainly passed through my mind. It matters all the more as this is a book which is very important to me and (I know, an author isn't necessarily the best judge of his own work) I am much more pleased with it than with one or two of my earlier efforts.

In the US, very positive advance reviews have appeared in journals such as Kirkus, Publishers’ Weekly, Library Journal, and Booklist and I've lost no time in quoting them on the news page of my website. Now the first UK review (of which I’m aware) has featured on Crime Time. And of course I am delighted that it is again favourable. Too early to relax altogether about the critical reception of the book, needless to say, but so far I'm very encouraged.

The pictures, by the way, are of the original artwork submitted by the UK and US publishers months before the book appeared. I was struck by how different they were.

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