Saturday, October 10, 2009


Another flap in the making. we seem to get a lot of those in the past few months; witness the uproar over reform of health care in this country. I should disclose up front that I haven't read the actual proposed regulation. I have read stories from sources I trust. Seems there is concern about members of the public blindly following blogger recommendations and testimonials without knowing if or whether or who paid for the testimonial. Personally, I assume somebody paid somebody. Maybe not coin of the realm. I can't imagine taking a pill or a shot of some chemical purchased from somebody I don't know, recommended by somebody I never met. Buying pills over the Internet strikes me as a highly dangerous practice unless you can verify the credentials of the source.

As a freelance reviewer, I've always been careful to say so if the book I am reviewing was written by an associate or a friend or a relative. When reading reviews, I tend to pay closer attention to reviews by people I know from the Crime Fiction community. Occasionally I get a query from someone about a review I've posted here or elsewhere. It's no secret who I know and who I know well. Followers of my reviews-and there are a few-take that into consideration when they read my stuff.

The FTC rules aren't aimed at reviewers per se. They want us to know that advertisers pay some people to praise their products. That's no big revelation, but it does require a reminder from time to time. If Jack Jones praises my latest mystery to the skies in a blog, you can assume I sent him a copy with a request for a review. But there is no assumption on my part that Jones will review my book favorably or at all.

The kind of disclaimers that will be required are a small irritant we'll have to put up with, just as older media--radio and television and print media do now. It's a useful thing. And here's another review. I hereby swear that I know the author only in passing.

Blue Lonesome
Author: Bill Pronzini
Publisher: Walker & Company.
ISBN: 0-8027-7561-6

Do you have a favorite restaurant or bar? A place you frequent regularly, where, over the passage of time, you see the same patrons? Is it a place where you may have even come to expect certain people to be there whenever you drop in, often seated in the same place? Do you ever wonder about the lives of some of those people, outside this one particular place where your life and that other person’s intersect, however casually?

CPA Jim Messenger does. In San Francisco he eats supper nearly every night at the Harmony Cafe. So does a woman called Janet Mitchell. Messenger is lonely, fed up with his job, and he wonders about Janet Mitchell, even after she rebuffs his single, tentative approach. Then, one day, Janet Mitchell is gone. She has committed suicide.

Even though they have hardly spoken to one another, Messenger finds himself compelled to learn more about Janet Mitchell. His quest takes him to an isolated community in Nevada, where he encounters a small community of individuals who are living out their lives with the desperate knowledge that murder and other horrible secrets lie ill-concealed in the dusty corners and trackless desert.

Messenger’s arrival and persistent efforts to learn the true story of the woman who called herself Janet Mitchell, gradually peel away concealing layers and as the tension steadily rises, Messenger finds himself at the center of a storm that will change the community, and perhaps his own life, forever.

“Blue Lonesome” is a strong, moody, study of lonely, fractured people,and the ways in which, consciously and unconsciously, we all build walls around ourselves, too often denying the painful realities of life. Mr. Pronzini has more to say on these subjects in later crime novels, “A Wasteland of Strangers,” and “Nothing But The Night.” “Blue Lonesome” is a thoughtful, powerful character study wrapped inside a thriller that will hold readers’ attention. Artist Doug Henry has contributed an outstanding, evocative cover illustration.

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