Daily Archives: October 23, 2014

The problem with reviews


As a book reviewer and soon to be self published author, I found Dylan’s considered, well written article of real interest. What do you think?

Suffolk Scribblings


I was having a Twitter chat yesterday with a good blogging friend about the recent controversy surrounding the author Kathleen Hale. Before you switch off, this post isn’t about the controversy itself (although if you want to know more, you can find a link to the original article here and an excellent response here) but a comment made during the discussion. We were talking about reviews in general and my friend said:

“As a reader and an observer of the self-publishing phenomenon: I don’t trust ratings of self-published authors.”

Unsurprisingly, the comment annoyed me, but as she explained her reasons it made me realise there is a problem with the review system, at least for new or first time authors (especially if they are self-published) of which we should all be aware.

Red Herrings

The issue is around the trustworthiness of reviews but not in the way you may think. I’ve read a lot…

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Review of Jazz and Die – A Jordan Lacey novel by Stella Whitelaw


I picked this off the shelves because I know the owner of the gorgeous car featured on the cover of this book and I’m also acquainted with the author…

Jordan Lacey, former policewoman-turned-private-investigator, needs work, so when dishy DCI James offers the job of guarding Maddy, unruly daughter of a famous jazz trumpeter, she accepts and heads off to the festival in Dorset in her new sports car, the Wasp. But discovering DCI James’s cold case involves a victim the same age as Maddy, and from the same school, Jordan is sure there is a link. Events escalate and Jordan must rely on her wits and training to keep Maddy safe…

jazzanddieI was looking for some light relief after a series of rather gruelling reads – and was delighted to discover that Jazz and Die ticked the box. While it is a murder mystery, Whitelaw doesn’t see fit to provide us with all the gory detail and Jordan is great fun as a protagonist. She is breezy and opinionated – and I loved her hands-off attitude to Maddy’s touchy teen sensibilities. I hadn’t read any of the previous Jordan Lacey novels, but Whitelaw is far too canny an author to structure this particular slice of her adventures such that we need her backstory to fully appreciate this book.

In amongst the whodunit mystery, Whitelaw provides us with plenty of details about Jordan’s life and without letting the narrative pace drop, she also gives us enjoyable descriptions of Swanage Jazz Festival. And – yes – there really is a Swanage Jazz Festival every summer. I’m not a jazz fan, but even I was fleetingly inspired to give it a visit. I thoroughly enjoyed Whitelaw’s snappy word pictures of a part of the world I know very well – and she uses a dramatic, beautiful backdrop to great effect.

Meantime, the mystery romps along and takes a darker turn, forcing Jordan to flee. The hunter becomes the hunted… Whitelaw manages to ramp up the action without losing the amusing nuances in the relationship between Jordan and Maddy – along with a sudden change of scenery. And yet another twist in this enjoyable murder mystery, which leads to a satisfying climax. All in all, I read this in one greedy gulp, while Himself has gone out and ordered the rest of the Jordan Lacey mysteries after devouring this one.

And if your taste runs to the cosier end of murder mysteries without sacrificing any of the excitement and tension, then look out for these books – they are great fun.