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Book review – for readers and writers – no.143: Morgen Bailey reviews Michael Connelly’s crime novel The Poet

Today’s book review of a crime novel is brought to you by yours truly, Morgen Bailey. If you’d like your book reviewed (please note I’m usually booked up several months in advance) and / or to send me a book review of another author’s book, see book-reviews for the guidelines. Other options listed on opportunities-on-this-blog.

Being a writer and editor, I read and review books with both hats. If you’re a writer reading this review and found it useful, do let me know.

The Poet by Michael Connelly

The Poet coverSynopsis: The apparent suicide of his policeman brother sets Denver crime reporter Jack McEvoy on edge. Surprise at the circumstances of his brother’s death prompts Jack to look into a whole series of police suicides, and puts him on the trail of a cop killer whose victims are selected all too carefully. Not only that, but they all leave suicide notes drawn from the poems of writer Edgar Allan Poe in their wake. More frightening still, the killer appears to know that Jack is getting nearer and nearer. An investigation that looks like the story of a lifetime might also be Jack’s ticket to a lonely end.

This novel is available via http://www.amazon.co.uk/Poet-Michael-Connelly-ebook/dp/B0037471VC and http://www.amazon.com/Poet-Michael-Connelly-ebook/dp/B0037471VC.

Review (of the audiobook)

Information is trickled to the reader throughout the novel and we switch from the first-person point of view Jack and the criminal, written via the narrator in third person. He certainly is creepy. We feel sorry for Jack from the beginning because of what happened to his brother so we’re going to want him to be OK, and stories written with deadlines is inevitably going to be pacey. The ending, after some twists, was unexpected and not unbelievable.

There is plenty to like about this novel – especially how it was narrated by Buck Schirner – but needless to say, I have found some to pick!…

  • A lot of (far too many) ‘began to’ / ‘started to’ before verbs. If something is happening then the ‘began to’ etc. can be chopped.
  • Other words that can you be dropped include completely (we have here ‘completely avoided’), totally etc.
  • There are a fair number of dialogue tags, e.g. he said / she said, where they are not needed. For example, when it has been established who the characters are and there are only two having a conversation, we don’t need to know so often who is speaking – especially where one of the characters names is mentioned by the other.
  • Unless you are just starting out, most writers know to avoid adverbs wherever possible, especially after dialogue and some examples in this novel are, “F***k the lawyer,” Sweetzer said angrily, “Give it to me!”, she said angrily, “You weasel,” Thorson said angrily. (Michael likes his angrilys, doesn’t he.) These are examples where you are telling the reader how the character is feeling rather than showing. Another example is ‘cheeks were hot with anger’ yet we know why his cheeks would be hot because of what led up to that. As long as the set up context of what you are writing is clear, you don’t need to include additional detail explaining what has happened before.
  • I have never been keen on the phrase ‘a long moment’ and there were two close together about halfway through the novel and a couple more later but I think it’s more of an Americanism than Britishism.
  • There is a lot of unnecessary repetition, especially noticed again around the halfway mark including ‘I started slowly to look about. I moved slowly through the house…’, ‘into a trailer park. Several inhabitant of the park… (where ‘several inhabitants’ would have done because we already know where they are), ‘walked through. Rachel walked…’, ‘The phone rang. Rachel yanked the phone out of the cradle.’ This could easily have been replaced by handset. Other examples include ‘…a back office. He came back…’ where the second back could have been replaced by ‘returned’, and finally, “It’s obviously sent to you… obviously been waiting for me…” What made this more annoying was that many of these instances are within the same chapter.

Conclusion

A very enjoyable novel, with a gripping the plot, only losing a point because of its need for a more thorough editing.

This novel was written and first published in the mid 1990s so presumably early in Michael’s career so as not as well written – or at least not as well edited – as his later novels so partly forgiveable, but the errors I have mentioned here certainly should have been picked up by a professional editor.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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Based in Northamptonshire, England, Morgen Bailey (“Morgen with an E”) is a freelance editor, online tutor, prolific blogger, 2015 Head Judge for the annual H.E. Bates Short Story Competition, Head Judge for the NLG Flash Fiction Competition, RONE 2015 Judge, and teaches creative writing (and writing-related I.T.) for her local county council and online. She is also a freelance author of numerous ‘dark and light’ short stories, novels, articles, and very occasional dabbler of poetry. Like her, her blog, https://morgenbailey.wordpress.com, is consumed by all things literary. She is also active on Twitter, Facebook along with many others (listed on her blog’s Contact page) and has created five online writing groups. She also runs a free monthly 100-word writing competition where you can win her online creative writing courses!

Her debut novel is the chick lit eBook The Serial Dater’s Shopping List ($0.99 / £0.77) and she has nine others (mostly crime) in the works. She also has eight collections of short stories available (also $0.99 / £0.77 each) – detailed on https://morgenbailey.wordpress.com/books-mine/short-stories.

She also helps other authors with an inexpensive freelance editing and critiquing service (free 1,000-word sample), and welcomes, and actively helps to promote, guest authors on her blog – see opportunities.

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If you would like to send me a book review, see book-reviews for the guidelines. Other options listed on opportunities-on-this-blog.

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*** Breaking news! My online creative writing courses are currently just £1 or $1-2 each! ***

You can subscribe to this blog on your Kindle / Kindle app via Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com. Alternatively, you can sign up to receive these blog posts daily or weekly so you don’t miss anything (see right-hand vertical menu).

You can contact me and find me on the internet, view my books (including my debut novel The Serial Dater’s Shopping Listvarious short story collections and writer’s block workbooks) and If you like this blog, you can help me keep it running by donating. Thank you.

Morgen Bailey Cover montage 2I now run online courses – details on Courses – and for anyone looking for an editor, do take a look at Editing and Critique.

If you would like to send me a book review of another author’s books or like your book reviewed (short stories, contemporary crime / women’s novels or writing guides), see book-reviews for the guidelines. Other options listed on opportunities-on-this-blog. And I post writing exercises every weekday on four online writing groups.

 
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Posted by on February 13, 2016 in critique, novels, review, tips, writing

 

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Book review – Three marketing / publishing books by John Monyjok Maluth

Today’s book review of an author’s three self-publishing guides is brought to you by yours truly, Morgen Bailey. If you’d like your book reviewed or to send me a book review of another author’s book, see book-reviews for the guidelines. Other options listed on opportunities-on-this-blog.

Being a writer and editor, I read and review books with both hats. If you’re a writer reading this review and found it useful, do let me know.

John Monyjok Maluth’s three self-publishing guides

The Marketing GuideThe Marketing Guide: The negative concept about the traditional book marketing is that, a certain company must publish your book. This concept is now past. It is not modern even though some authors are relying on this concept even today. Getting into public is the main issue. The quality of your book matters the most.

The Publisher’s Guide: With the help of today’s technology, you can do the impossible things yourself. You can write, edit, proofread, design, format, convert, publish and market your books online. Would you believe this to be true? Whether you believe it or not, it is happening daily. People are writing and publishing their own book daily. The book publishing concept is already changing from time to time.

The Author’s Guide: In the Author’s Guide, I have discussed about the writing concepts, types, history, and finally, the independent publishing in the modern world. Today, you cannot only write books, you can also publish your own online. It’s time to get started!

Review (of the eBooks)

I came across Kenyan John Monyjok Maluth’s three self-publishing guides while recommending Smashwords to an editing client.

I started with the marketing guide where the first half talked about where to self publish and the associated outlets available so not really marketing as such. Section 5 entitled social network book marketing was the most useful although talked about the mainstream sites of Facebook, Twitter, Google+ etc.

It was at 88% that we get marketing tips so up to then it felt more like the where to get books available guide.

There was a fair amount of repetition throughout the book and the message was to use social media, tell friends et cetera so, for me, sadly nothing new but a good refresher, especially when it came to utilising email contacts. I have never set up a newsletter and had started the process on mail chimp – which isn’t mentioned in John’s books – and must see that through.

John’s publishing guide is similar but – as you would expect – shows you how to self publish and skims over marketing.

I then went on to the author’s experience which does what it says on the tin; how John came to writing and self-publishing then talks again about how to market.

In all three books, he reiterates that we should write because we love it, not for the money, although both is ideal. I concur.

I did spot a couple of typing errors in the marketing guide: ‘tranditionally’ and ‘its’ marketing success’ (where they shouldn’t be an apostrophe after its – an easy mistake to make). And another easy mistake to make – in the publisher’s guide – is ‘both you and me will be paid $25’. Drop the ‘both you and’ and the rest doesn’t make sense so the best way to remember when you’re trying to decide whether to use ‘you and me’ or ‘you and I’.

For beginners they are excellent guide, especially as they are all given away free on Smashwords, and a useful reminder for more seasoned writers.

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*** Breaking news! My online creative writing courses are currently just £1 or $1-2 each! ***

You can subscribe to this blog on your Kindle / Kindle app via Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com. Alternatively, you can sign up to receive these blog posts daily or weekly so you don’t miss anything (see right-hand vertical menu).

You can contact me and find me on the internet, view my books (including my debut novel The Serial Dater’s Shopping Listvarious short story collections and writer’s block workbooks) and If you like this blog, you can help me keep it running by donating. Thank you.

Morgen Bailey Cover montage 2I now run online courses – details on Courses – and for anyone looking for an editor, do take a look at Editing and Critique.

If you would like to send me a book review of another author’s books or like your book reviewed (short stories, contemporary crime / women’s novels or writing guides), see book-reviews for the guidelines. Other options listed on opportunities-on-this-blog. And I post writing exercises every weekday on four online writing groups.

 

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