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Earlier this week, I talked about the usefulness of the book critique to help refine my writing. I thought I’d show a critique I did on one of crime fiction writer Robert Parker’s best Spenser novels, Looking for Rachel Wallace, a book that has helped me immensely as I try to make a career in the same field.
If the writing seems abbreviated or sloppy or informal, that’s the way I write these so as to better understand the critique later. It’s essentially a monologue I have with myself on paper; if I wrote any more formally or self-consciously, I feel that I’d lose something in the study. Unlike my guide in the previous post, there’s not much in the Issues section and there’s no Summary…I think I cover everything in the other sections. If I get a positive response, I’ll post a more complete critique on another novel.
I hope you find it helpful, but there are huge SPOILERS, obviously. Don’t read the critique if you haven’t read the book!
A few years ago I attended the renowned Boucheron convention, a fan-based convention for mystery and crime fiction. UK comedian-turned-crime fiction-novelist Mark Billingham was one of the many panelists that I listened to that day, but he said something that stuck with me when the words of many other bright lights at the conference faded away. Something I’d never heard a mystery or crime fiction author talk about before.
I had the chance to attend indie publication Barrelhouse Magazine‘s spring “Crime” issue release party last night, where I got to hear cool authors read their work: Tara Laskowski reading “The Etiquette of Murder”, Art Taylor with his “Blue Plate Special”, and “How Sacrifices Are Made in Illionois” by Michelle Dove.
All are great reads that make you think; Tara’s piece reminded me of Armand “Blackbird” Degas from Elmore Leonard’s Killshot, while Art’s piece seemed a thoughtful blend of Chandler and James Crumley (of Last Good Kiss fame). I’m still rolling around Michelle’s piece in my head…it’s a densely-packed story with lots of sly humor tucked in here and there; easy to miss if you’re not paying attention.
It was nice to rub elbows with other writers and poets trying to make a professional go of it. If only the bartender hadn’t turned the music up to 10…I’d still be there chatting craft with some really smart people.
If you like indie publications, check out Barrelhouse at http://www.barrelhousemag.com.
You can read Tara’s piece in its entirety (with roll-over annotations…thank you, internet!) at http://www.barrelhousemag.com/?page_id=1949.