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Maxine Clarke – Petrona – a tribute to a dedicated crime fiction reader


Maxine with Håkan Nesser at CrimeFest in Bristol.

With great sadness, some of us learned today that Maxine Clarke of the Petrona blog passed away this morning.

Maxine was well known to many on and via the net, with many also experiencing the pleasure of meeting her in person, becoming her friends.  It was the love of crime fiction that brought us all together.  Maxine was a great champion of crime fiction, especially translated crime fiction, and also a champion of its translators – key people to the process whose skills she felt were often overlooked.  She was both a prolific reader and reviewer of crime fiction on her own blog, for Eurocrime, and on goodreads and Amazon where she was an Amazon Vine™ Voice and a Top 500 Reviewer.

Maxine started her blog in the December of 2005.  Initially, it covered an eclectic mix of her interests: most notably her reading and also science, which was the sector of her working life.  In later years it settled with a focus on crime fiction alone.  In addition to her prolific reading and reviewing she was also a prolific blogger and commenter and in this she was the creator and supporter of a community.  No doubt because she revelled in the stimulating discussion and debate of crime fiction online, Maxine was the one to set up the Crime and Mystery Fiction Group on friendfeed, a place for honest opinions.

Maxine was a well-respected reviewer and opinion-setter, also known for her warmth and generosity, her wit and her incisive mind.  I will never forget the warmth and generosity she extended to me when I lost my parents in 2007.  Neither will I forget one of her blog posts over a previous festive season which attracted a sudden barrage of comments when a significant number of female crime fiction readers discovered they also had a penchant for Mark Harmon in common.  It became the joke of the season.

Maxine’s productivity and ability to multi-task were simply phenomenal.  Via the net, and because of crime fiction and her engaging character she became a welcome feature in the daily lives of many and she will be sorely missed.  She was an outstanding friend to many.

It is hard to accept that I write of Maxine in the past tense here; hard too to have lost the opportunity to write to her this Christmas in the hope of further reconciliation after our clashing opinions during the year.  (Sadly, I think we reached an impasse.)  But, dear Maxine, like so many others I remember you with love and a warm heart, confident that if we’d had the chance for a face to face discussion all would have been resolved fully.

Maxine was a true lover of crime fiction and a rock in the lives of many.  It is so hard to believe she is no longer with us but she will always be remembered with love and respect, and for her massive achievements.

My condolences to Maxine’s family at this very sad time.

[My thanks to Norm for use of his picture.]

Further tributes from:

20 comments on “Maxine Clarke – Petrona – a tribute to a dedicated crime fiction reader

  1. Margot Kinberg
    December 18, 2012

    Rhian – A beautiful and thoughtful tribute – thank you.

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  3. Aegean Jan
    December 18, 2012

    Oh no, such sad and shocking news. My condolences to Maxine’s family and friends. That was a wonderful tribute, Rhian.

  4. Christina James
    December 18, 2012

    My sincere regret at having never met Maxine is tempered by a tribute which will touch many hearts and memories; you have brought her to life for me. She will be clearly much missed.
    Thank you.

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  6. Norman Price
    December 18, 2012

    A lovely tribute Rhian. Six years ago Maxine was the first person to comment on my blog, and she was an inspiration to the whole crime fiction community.

  7. farmlanebooks
    December 18, 2012

    Such sad news. She was one of the few crime bloggers I follow. She spread the love for crime fiction outside the genre niche and I read several books from her recommendations. I’ll miss her.

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  9. Martin Edwards
    December 18, 2012

    This is dreadfully sad news. Thank you for this deeply felt tribute to a kind and gifted person.

  10. crimeficreader
    December 18, 2012

    Thanks for the comments all.

    • Anya Lipska
      December 18, 2012

      A very moving and heartfelt post, Rhian – that is such sad news. I didn’t know Maxine but was honoured when she reviewed my book, giving it a typically thorough and extremely well written review – I mention it solely because my pleasure was due to her unimpeachable reputation as a very well read and rigorous crime reviewer. I am very sad that I won’t ever have the chance to meet her.

  11. Maureen
    December 18, 2012

    I’m shocked by this sad news. Thank you for posting such a lovely tribute.

  12. Graham Steel (@McDawg)
    December 18, 2012

    I didn’t know Maxine well IRL. Met her very briefly at a Conference in London in 2008.We had some exchanges online before and after then. I got to know her via ‘Nature Network’ which she had a hand in.

    I guess I knew her best latterly as “Petrona” and in particular, this post from her blog is my personal tribute to this weblog:- .

  13. bernadetteinoz
    December 18, 2012

    I did not feel able to comment intelligibly when I first read this yesterday Rhian but felt I must come back to say thank you for sharing these thoughts with us all. While I would never wish sadness on others it is a comfort to be able to share our grief and know that we are not experiencing our sadness alone.

    • crimeficreader
      December 18, 2012

      Indeed it is Bernadette. Thanks for coming back and commenting.

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This entry was posted on December 17, 2012 by in Blogs, Crime fiction, Obituary and tagged , .
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