In Memoriam – Maxine Clarke

jack_half_mastDear Maxine,

Today I heard the sad news of your passing. I know you were never much of a one for being fussed over, but I want to let you know how much your friendship meant to me as a crime fiction reader and writer.

When I first ‘met’ you, I was a rookie blogger with a book I’d just gotten published. You, with so much knowledge about crime fiction, were still kind enough to read and comment on my blog. What an honour that was, especially since your own blog Petrona was such a superb crime fiction review blog.  And when you also said nice things about my books even though I never asked you to get them or read them, well, I can’t describe how proud that made me. You gave me faith that I could actually make something of myself as a writer of crime fiction.

And let me tell you if I may why your kindness about my work and my blog meant so much to me. You had the highest standards for yourself as a reader of crime fiction and as a blogger. You had high standards too for other bloggers and for authors of crime fiction. Your support of my work was such a special honour because you didn’t support just anybody in order to curry favour or get lots of ARCs of books. You made careful choices about the work you liked and didn’t, and I wish I had told you – but hopefully you knew – what a privilege it was to know you liked mine.

It wasn’t just your kindness about my work either that I remember gratefully. You welcomed me into the online crime fiction reading and writing community and made me feel I was among friends, even though I wasn’t (and may never be) famous or powerful. Even when I made embarrassing mistakes on my blog or in our online book discussions, you never made me feel less for it. We laughed together about it and went on.

And that’s another thing I remember about you, Maxine – your delightful sense of humour. I remember the jokes we used to make about the publishing world, ‘blockbuster’ best-sellers, stupid politics and lots of other things too. I loved your wit. You made me smile, sometimes when a lot of other things were going wrong. What’s especially amazing to me is that you made me smile even when things were going wrong for you. A lot of people would have griped and complained at life’s sorrow; you didn’t. You saw the absurd in life and shared that with us.

I also want to thank you, Maxine, for your integrity and your honesty. One of the reasons you earned so much respect from those of us in the crime fiction community is that you were always upfront, forthright and true-blue. Those qualities led us to trust you and never once did you betray that trust.

You brought so much to the world of books in general and crime fiction in particular, Maxine. That world is less now because of your passing. I will always remember you. Every time I read a new-to-me author (especially a Scandinavian author), I’ll think of you. Whenever I read a book review, follow up on a new development in the publishing industry or check out an article on new trends in crime fiction, I’ll think of you. And I promise, you will be in my thoughts as I write and blog, too. How could you not be?

I have lost a friend and the crime fiction world has lost one of its lights. But I am grateful and honoured to have known you, Maxine. Thank you for reaching out.  May you know peace and may your family have strength and healing.

 

Always,

Margot

 

In Memoriam…

 Maxine Clarke – Crime fiction expert, top-notch blogger and most of all, friend.

For me the Union Jack is flying at half mast.
 

*For a beautiful tribute to Maxine, and an excellent post on her accomplishments in the world of crime fiction, read this fine post at It’s a Crime! (or a Mystery…).

65 Comments

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65 responses to “In Memoriam – Maxine Clarke

  1. Maxine was the reason why I met you, Bernadette, Jose and many others in the community. She will be sorely missed.

  2. A lovely tribute Margot. I don’t yet feel able to put into words how truly wretched I feel at this awful news so I am glad someone so adept with words is able to express my feelings for me.

    • Bernadette – Thanks – I know you’re hurting a lot. I’m gutted myself at the moment – I really am. For me it was either get it out in words or dissolve…

  3. kathy d.

    Amen. I will miss Maxine, a bright light in the world of crime fiction blogs and so much more. Even throughout her own ordeal, she maintained her dignity and integrity while making so many contributions to our appreciation of mysteries — good ones. Maxine had no tolerance for poorly written or gratuitously violent books, or with sloppy editing or boring plots or characters. She elevated the bar to quite a high level for crime fiction writing.
    This reader couldn’t wait to read her excellent blog Petrona every day, with its brilliant book reviews, insightful (and critical) publishing world news and bristling wit. Maxine certainly enhanced my view of crime fiction and recommended so many quality books to all of us.
    Maxine also promoted the scientific view of the world and expected science and facts to be accurate in crime fiction, and ignorance to be cast aside.
    On her blog, she took the time, even while ill, to answer everyone’s comments — and oh, what terrific discussions were held there on so many topics. And she took the time to write me a lovely sympathy note when my mother passed away last summer.
    Maxine will be sorely missed by so many who knew her and read her blog and other book reviews. She contributed so much to the world of crime fiction. And she was a stellar person, which shone through at her blog, at Friend Feed and at other readers’ and writers’ websites.
    As I think of her illness, I again think of the priorities of our governments: Cancer research and treatment (and that of other diseases) should be the top priority, and not developing more means of destruction.

    • Kathy – Thanks so much for what you’ve added. You are so right about the way Maxine always encouraged such wonderful discussions on her blog. She always respected people’s comments, even when she disagreed with them. Ans yes indeed, even during her illness, she didn’t let us down.
       
      And you’re so right about her high standards for books, for thinking, for writing, etc.. I always respected her views for a lot of reasons. That’s one of them. She wasn’t afraid to speak up if a book – even a best-seller – was gratuitous, badly-written, shallow or something else. And she spoke up too when she came across an author whose work was excellent, even if no-one had ever heard of that author. I always appreciated that about her. I like the way you put that: she really did raise the bar and that made crime fiction better.
       
      And I think Maxine would agree with you that we don’t need to pour our intellect, skills and financial means into making more weapons. She’d have appreciated your call for scientific research and other support for medicine.

  4. The pain of losing a friend is always great. But somehow, the pain of losing a “virtual friend” is greater- you have never met the person over a cup of coffee, or giggled for hours on the phone, which is why the emptiness is much more. Sending my love to you, and to all the other people who so obviously loved her.
    This is perhaps not the right place to say it, but if I don’t now, I might never say it.When I was reading all that you said about Maxine, I was thinking of how every single thing you said about her could apply to you also. I love you, Margot, for every one of the reasons for which you love Maxine, and I want to tell you that now. And everytime I pick up a new mystery story (whether or not one recommended by you), I think of you.

    • Natasha – How very, very kind of you. I don’t have the words to thank you but…thank you. I love you too and I’m honoured and better because we’re friends.
      &nbep;
      You’re so right too about virtual friends. They are friends in a true and deep sense, but you don’t have the physical, real-life memories to comfort you that you do with other kinds of friends. I hadn’t thought about that but as ever, you’ve given me a new way to think about things. Maxine’s loss is a real blow to all of us who loved and respected her. It’s also a real loss to the world of crime fiction. But as heartbroken as we are, I feel worst for her family. I wish them peace and strength as they cope with this.

      • I am the richer for the wonderful friends I have made, who I’ve never met and may never meet. Thank you for being one of them.
        And in the New Year, we should perhaps dedicate a month to telling the people who matter to us that they matter to us. The flip side of online friendships is that you may never even be aware of how much you matter to someone.

        • Natasha – I couldn’t agree with you more about importance of letting people know how important they are to you. It’s herd enough sometimes to do that in the face-to-face world. It’s even harder with online friends. You’re one of my valued friends too and I’m glad you know that. Maybe setting some time aside to let our online friends know they matter is a very good idea.

  5. So sorry to hear of Maxine’s passing. The world of crime fiction has indeed lost a bright light. Margot, your post is a lovely tribute to her.

    I must also agree with Natasha that these attributes apply to you. We sometimes forget that we don’t have all the time in the world to tell others how important they are in our lives. While Maxine may have inspired you, you inspire us. Thank you.

    Sending love and hugs to you, Maxine’s loved ones and all those who feel her loss.

    Mason
    Thoughts in Progress

    • Mason – Thanks so much for your kind words *blush*. That means a lot to me. You’re so right that we don’t always take the time we should to let people in our lives know that they matter. It only takes a few minutes and it can mean so much.
       
      You’re right that Maxine inspired me – still does. Always will. And like yours, my thoughts and wishes are going out to her family and to everyone who cared about her. We will all miss her so much…

  6. It sounds like Maxine would have been an awesome person to know, Margot.

  7. Ms. Kinberg, this is such a beautiful tribute to Maxine Clarke — thank you very much. The news is shocking to say the least. I was beginning to wonder why Maxine hadn’t posted anything since her last piece over a month ago. I knew Maxine through her wonderful blog Petrona and I learned much about crime-fiction through her wide and impressive knowledge of the genre and particularly her reviews of crime novels which in spite of being concise left nothing out. She introduced readers like me to some terrific authors and books. The only way I can pay tribute to Maxine is to preserve the link to her blog for a long time to come. My deepest condolences to her family and friends.

    • Prashant – Thank you for the kind words. You are right that Maxine was thoroughly knowledgeable about crime fiction. I too got many good suggestions for books to read and authors to try. And her blog was so very well-written! Always worth reading. I’m glad you are planning to keep the link to her blog. I am, too.

  8. Margot, I’m so sad and shocked to read about Maxine’s passing. Thank you for such a lovely tribute – like Prashant Trikannad I’ve been wondering why she’d hardly posted anything on her blog recently. My thoughts go out to her family and friends. I too shall miss her even though we never met.

    • Margaret – I’m terribly upset about Maxine’s passing as well. She meant a lot to us in the crime fiction community and she will be very much missed. I wish her loved ones well at this time…

  9. Like others have said already, Maxine was always ready to welcome anyone new into the crime fiction blogging community. I absolutely loved her reviews.She was always completely honest about the content of the books and I will miss her honesty and thoughtfulness. She had become a friend too and even though I only got to know her properly in the last year of her life I admired her attitude to her illness so much. Like you, when I read some books I will think ‘I wonder what Maxine would have thought of this.’ I will miss her very much.

    • Sarah – I’ll miss Maxine very much too. Not just for her knowledge of crime fiction (although like you, I know I’ll catch myself wondering what she’d have thought of a book or a post), but also for her attitude to life. I too admired her candor and her thoughtfulness, and yes, she had such a terrific attitude towards her illness. A real inspiration in a lot of ways..

  10. Such sad news, and such a lovely post. I’m thankful to have met Maxine this last year I’ve been blogging, and I will miss her. Does anyone know how to pass on condolences to her family?

  11. Laura Root

    I am enormously saddened to hear of Maxine’s passing. She was a truly inspirational woman I think to many of us, remarkably kind and generous with her time and books, and a beacon of her sheer intelligence and impeccable judgment to those of us starting off in the crime blog (or in my case reviewing) world.

    • Laura – Maxine was indeed so generous and kind about sharing both her books and her knowledge of them. I greatly admired her intelligence and trusted her judgement. I learned an awful lot about crime fiction from Maxine; that’s just one of many reasons for which I’ll miss her so very much.

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  14. Margot, thank you for putting all our thoughts into this tribute. Maxine’s death has left a huge hole in our lives, and I am too upset at the moment to think clearly. I know from speaking to Rhian on the phone and reading her moving tribute that she too is heartbroken.
    Maxine for the first person to comment on my blog over six years ago, and it was her encouragement that kept me going in the early days. I knew that if Maxine agreed on a book’s quality I was on the right track. Her reviews were always brilliant, and an example of good writing.
    Even though we had only met in person twice, because of our numerous emails, and all the ARCs she sent on to me I regarded her as a close friend. Her kind words when our son died last year meant a lot.
    Maxine was a very brave lady, a brilliant blogger, dedicated to her family, a scientist, an inspiration and a good friend.
    She will be greatly missed.

    • Norman – Maxine meant a lot to all of us and I know her loss is at least as awful for you as it is for me. Like you, I implicitly trusted her judgement about books and I always appreciated how generous she was with them. Like you, I felt so encouraged and supported by her interest in my blog and her willingness to read and comment on it. And if my blog has any quality at all it’s in part because of the inspiration I got from her.
       
      I thought of Maxine as a good friend too, as well as a brilliant and witty person, a skilled scientist and a kind compassionate human being. She was indeed brave too and that too serves as an inspiration. ‘Gaping hole’ really does describe her loss…

    • And the tears have come again reading that, Norm. Thank you.

  15. A lovely and heartfelt tribute to Maxine. Although I didn’t know Maxine personally I very much valued her opinion on our shared passion and found her writing both interesting and informative. She will be missed by many but remembered by all who had the pleasure of discovering wonderful new writers through her frank and balanced reviews…

    • Thank you – She will indeed be sorely missed. You’re right too that her reviews were always both frank and fair. And her intelligence and wit came through in her writing as well. She was also a fine human being and a good friend. This is a real loss to us all…

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  17. A tribute immensely touching for its personal perspective and feeling. Thank you.

  18. Thanks for linking Margot. Isn’t it odd that people can you leave with one thing that will always invoke their memory? With my father it’s a washing-up liquid bottle in a kitchen because ‘the top should always be put back on’. With Maxine, I remember her every time I paste something into Notepad before pasting into a Word doc or directly into a blog post. She once swiftly solved my formatting problems with this advice.
    She will be greatly missed.

    • Rhian – I know exactly what you mean. For me, I think of Maxine when I listen to Paul Simon’s music. She and I shared a real fondness for his work. And yes, she will be very much missed…

  19. Thanks for this post Margot. Maxine has been a person of considerable influence in crime fiction land, encouraging bloggers like us when we were newbies, pointing out things she thought we could have thought about in our reviews, leading us into new pastures with books to try, bringing a group of us together in FriendFeed. I never did get to meet her in the flesh but her influence on me has been immeasurable.

    • Kerrie – Thanks for your thoughts. No doubt about it, Maxine had a profound influence on all of us in crime fiction land. And you’re right; she drew us all together and had a way of sharing her knowledge about and love of the genre that got us all thinking. Her death is a big loss to us all.

  20. I am very sorry to hear of the loss of your friend. And this time of year, deaths are doubly hard.

  21. A marvellous tribute to a marvellous lady. Thank you, Margot. As others have said, you have captured the loss we all feel so very, very well.

  22. I agree, it’s a wonderful tribute. I only recently heard of her passing and you’re right, it’s left a large hole in the crime blogging community and for so many. My prayers are with her family.

  23. kathy d.

    I am going to go to Maxine’s blog and print out all of her book lists and pledge to read all which she rated 4 or 5 stars or else recommended highly. And I’ll think of her whenever I read one of these books and remember her brilliant, incisive reviews and crackling wit.

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  25. I only know Maxine as a reader of her blog and her thorough reviews and the reviews at Euro Crime. I have always enjoyed her reviews and I will miss being able to read them in the future. I wish I had known her. What a nice tribute to her.

  26. Thank you, Margot. I could have written every word of this, as could so many others. You have expressed very well the feelings of so many people who are shocked, saddened and diminished by someone few of us had met but to whom all have a great debt. I will miss her.

    • Philip – Thank you very much for the kind words. You’re right that Maxie touched so many lives, including those of people she’d never met. A testament to an exceptional person.

  27. A very sweet post Maxine – so sad to hear about her passing.

  28. It’s good to read so many comments about Maxine. We only met once, but she used to visit on my blog every now and then, and I’d read hers.
    I will have my own post about Maxine tomorrow and will link to it here.

    • Bookwitch – Thanks very much. Maxine was dedicated to crime fiction and always took the time to read what others had to say. It was one of the many things I respected about her. I look forward to reading your post.

  29. I’m sorry to hear of this loss. Maxine sounds like she was much loved by many and what better tribute than to know you have left love in the world. My thoughts are with those who knew, loved and cared for her. x

  30. Margot, I don’t know why this passed me by but I have read though all the tributes including your own and am touched by the strength of feeling each and every one of you had for Maxine and the respect she was so obviously held in. I never knew her or knew of her blog (no idea why), but I think she must have been a pretty awesome lady to know and I send you all my condolences for your loss and for the loss to the crime writing world, as well as her own family and friends.

    • Thank you, Jane. Losing Maxine was a terrible blow to all of us, and even more to her family and close friends. I still miss her terribly. She was indeed awesome, not to mention kind, funny and helpful. I appreciate your comments.

      • I just cannot understand why I didn’t see your post at the time Margot. Perhaps it had something to do with the time of year. Also I have no idea why her blog passed me by but I shall go back and have a good read through it now I know it is there. I can appreciate how her family must have felt back then and that they too miss her terribly, but what a wonderful way to share your liking and respect for her with them. I am sure you miss her terribly and always will, but she has left such a huge legacy behind, you know she will never be forgotten. That must comfort both you and her family.

  31. Margot, thanks. I had been over earlier and that is when the penny dropped as to who she was and your connection. I will be back to read more when time permits me to take my time to read slowly and take it all in. Thanks.

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