This morning I heard the very sad news that Maxine Clarke, who blogged as Petrona, has passed away.
Rhian Davies and Margot Kinberg have both written wonderful tributes to Maxine, and I’d like to add a few words of my own.
Maxine was a prolific crime fiction reviewer, and one of the very, very best, setting a gold-standard in crime blogging. Her posts were knowledgeable, perceptive and thoughtful, and, more often than not, made you want to rush out and buy a book. Her blog, Petrona, is one of the ‘core’ crime blogs I always recommend to others. It’s descriptive subtitle is pure Maxine: ‘Mainly about reading with an accent on intelligent crime fiction from around the world’.
As well as holding Maxine in extremely high regard as a blogger, I valued and admired the contribution she made through her encouragement and support of others. I am struck, when reading tributes and comments on Twitter, by how many rookie bloggers Maxine welcomed into the crime-blogging community and quietly nurtured: I am one of those who will always be grateful for the kindness and encouragement that she showed me in my early blogging days. No review ever went by without a comment from Maxine (often within minutes of it being posted!), and those comments were generous, thoughtful ones that helped you to reflect further on the book in question. In short, Maxine was a great teacher, the kind that you always wanted to do your best for and who made you glow when you received her praise.
I never met Maxine in person, but will miss her friendship enormously. My thoughts are with her family and friends at this very sad time.
Mrs P that is a fine tribute to Maxine, who was a very brave lady and an inspiration to us all. She will be greatly missed by all her friends.
Absolutely, Norman, couldn’t agree more.
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Lovely tribute, Mrs. P., for which thanks. One of the things I loved about Maxine – one of the many things – was her kindness and helpfulness to new bloggers and her support of anyone with a real interest in the genre. And yes, her blog was the model for an excellent crime fiction blog. Full stop. I will miss her so very much…
Thanks, Margot. I’m only really becoming fully aware of extent of Maxine’s encouragement and support now through everyone’s comments. She was everywhere!
I’ll miss her hugely too, Margot. She leaves such an enormous gap. A sad, sad day.
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“She leaves such an enormous gap. A sad, sad day.” So true.
Lovely sentiments Mrs P. I am another of those fledgeling bloggers who Maxine supported and cajoled into not giving up and made me want to be a better reviewer and blogger.
I think she mentored quite a few of us, Bernadette, though sometimes with such a light touch that we didn’t even notice. In the early days of this blog, when not many readers would necessarily come my way, I knew I could always rely on Maxine to give me feedback and kickstart a dialogue – a wonderful, encouraging, constant support 🙂
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Maxine didn’t mentor me, but she did offer encouragement when I started my blog. In fact, she posted the first-ever comment on Detectives Beyond Borders, back in 2006.
Detectives Beyond Borders
“Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home”
Thanks, Peter – why does that not surprise me? Maxine retrospectively became the first person to comment on this blog: she had found it a couple of months after it started, and then made a point of visiting the reviews that I’d already posted to leave comments. The very first one was a review of Indridason’s The Draining Lake, and would have sat without a comment if she hadn’t popped back to leave her thoughts 🙂
Very nice and fitting tribute. While not a blogger, I am a crime fiction reader and blog reader and commenter. How fortunate I was to discover Maxine’s blog Petrona and since I’m over here five hours earlier, I’d read her blog every day if I was up until the wee hours or had insomnia, write a comment and when I checked in later, there was a typical Maxine comment — incisive, often witty.
What wonderful discussions went on at Petrona on crime fiction and so many other topics, encouraged by Maxine, who kept those conversations going and made them sharper.
Maxine raised the bar on what was acceptable crime fiction — not mediocrity, not gratuitous violence, not action without character development, not bad writing or editing! She expected quite a lot from crime fiction writers and editors: excellence.
And from her recommendations, I read so many very good books, and passed them or the suggestions along to friends who also appreciated them.
I’ll miss a lot at Petrona, at Friend Feed, where Maxine’s comments just crackled, and on the many blogs at which she commented.
One thing I will do is print out her yearly book suggestions and read those she esteemed, and I’ll think of her when I do so, and appreciate her contributions to the world of crime fiction readers, and to me personally. My reading will never be the same.
I send my deepest sympathy to Maxine’s family and also express my admiration for her as she carried on throughout her illness with great integrity and dignity.
Thanks so much Kathy – this is a wonderful tribute to Maxine, and there’s so you say that I recognise and agree with wholeheartedly. You’re absolutely right about her high standards – I learned a great deal from her about what makes good crime fiction and what does not. And yes, a recommendation from Petrona was one you could value and rely on.
The idea of printing out Petrona’s yearly book suggestions is a great idea. I’m still filling in lots of gaps having only started to blog properly in 2011, and always admired the fact that Maxine was so widely read and up-to-date. So I will join you on that one, and like you, think of her as I do.
A great loss
Thanks, Jørn – it is indeed.