Killer Year–The Class of 2007

You’re Stupid and So is Your Book
July 22, 2007, 3:54 pm
Filed under: Gregg Olsen

this-books-for-the-dogs.gifthis-books-for-the-dogs.gifthis-books-for-the-dogs.gifthis-books-for-the-dogs.gifFull disclosure here. I’ve had had my share of bad reviews. People despise me. Hate my books. Wish my mother had miscarried.

They hate my covers. Think I can’t spell. Can’t write. Don’t know a pronoun from a proctologist. Every now and then, they post on the internet book review sites just what they think about me. Sometimes I wince and wonder if they think I ran over their cat.

But I love cats and would never do that.

After A Wicked Snow came out, someone named “laci jo” posted this on

I am so disappointed i cried! i know most of the players in this book and not only was the storyline awful there are a great many untruths! save your money and borrow one if you must read it…..ugggggggggggggg please my 5 year old son could do a better job! I love reading true crime books and no i don’t think i ever want to read another, by this author at least….jo

One problem. A Wicked Snow is fiction. Laci Jo says she knew most of they players in the book and they were mad at me. Hmmmm. A quick tap of the keyboard showed that LJ was a uberfan of another true crime writer.

Me thinks she didn’t read A Wicked Snow at all.

So take a moment and travel with me the literary dustbin we call Amazon. You know the place where every man is a reviewer and every writer should have known better? I’m all for discussion, reviews, book clubs, and other means of communicating a book’s shortcomings and value. But anonymous reviews sometimes smack of one-upmanship and envy. Who knows, I could be wrong. There could even be an altruistic reason for their typed ire.

Here are some of my favorite vigilante reviews of my true crime pals:

First up, M. William Phelps, who goes by the name of Matt and not William, for some strange reason (I blog with Matt over at Here’s what Amy Vrescak of PA said about his book about Diane O’Dell, a murderous mom in Sleep in Heavenly Peace:

This story had a lot of potential to make for a fascinating read, but the author completely blows it. The writing is confusing and boring. I didn’t feel that the author was very successful in getting into Odell’s state of mind. Much of the writing was merely a report of others’ findings without any additional insight or discussion.

OMG. Much of the writing is reporting others’ findings? That’s what journalism is, dear. Reporting. If you want discussion, Amy, start a scrap booking group, for goodness sake. Seriously, I’m of the opinion that it is nearly impossible to “get into the mind” of another human

Do you know what I’m thinking now? Of course not. You never really can KNOW.

Lisa, town unknown, has this to say about Aphrodite Jones concerning her book on the Michael Peterson murder case. She headlined it: Unreliable, ill-conceived, and badly written.

Another ghoulish ambulance chaser capitalizing on the grief of this poor family. It wouldn’t be so bad if the book contained facts, if it really tried to investigate what happened the night of Kathleen Peterson’s death. But it doesn’t. Jones has decided that Peterson is a sociopath and only includes information that she believes proves it. She doesn’t mention ever speaking to Michael Peterson, or to any of the people who knew him well. She has only spoken to those who had a reason to dislike him and believe him guilty. She contradicts herself so frequently that I have to believe she didn’t understand what she was talking about. The details she highlights from Peterson’s life also contradict so frequently with the other book in this vein, Diane Fanning’s “Written in Blood” that I scarcely know who to believe. They both show such obvious bias that I tend not to believe either of them. I hope Michael Peterson is guilty, and deserves the treatment he’s been given. It’s just too horrible to think of an innocent man being persecuted in this shabby way.

A decade or so ago, Aphrodite Jones was the hottest young writer in True Crime. She’s beautiful, smart, and has a great flair for the dramatic. She’s been a lot of things (author, lecturer and producer) but I can assure you, she’s never treated anyone shabbily. I have no clue if her book is trash, but I doubt it. Sometimes I doubt whether or not the reviewer READ the book, or if they were just part of the story and were mad they were shoved off the pages.

And then there’s this little winner posted by some coward named “A Reader.” Mr. or Ms. Reader takes on Dennis McDougal’s masterpiece In the Best of Families. The headline: Blah, Blah, Blah.

The review:

This book is AWFUL. Don’t waste your time or money. The writer is horrible, he’s all over the place, never keeping to the story, going off on adventures and subjects that have ZERO to do with the story AND is EXTREMELY BORING. I stopped reading 1/2 way through the book – maybe when I got nothing else to read on a rainy day I’ll finish it, or should I say, skip through the remainder as I did thus far. Horrible, horrible writing – don’t publish anymore books by this author!

Mr. Reader will be sorry to know that McDougal’s writing career has been just fine, thank you. Apparently, publishers are not so picky. And thank goodness they didn’t rely on you for marketing advice.

If there’s a better writer on this blog, I’d be hard-pressed to name him or her. Carlton Stowers has never written a dog (and most of us can cop to at least one). K. O’Brien of New Haven, CT, hated his Edgar Award-winning book, Careless Whispers.

I found this book generally interminable and sometimes incomprehensible, with poor pacing and organization, and it’s hero-worship of the detective became downright annoying. I read it many years ago, long before there was a public outcry over the convictions (and execution), but even then felt that the case was a reach. My advice is to avoid it, particularly since even the factual basis for the book is questionable at this stage.

It is hard to argue against one point made by KO. The facts changed. But what didn’t change was the riveting tale created by Stowers in Careless Whispers. The pacing was perfection.

I’d never even heard of Steven Long before coming to ICB. But from what I’ve been reading about him, his work, I doubt that this review is anything but a diatribe born of a too tight girdle. The reviewer is Kristen and she lives in Washington, DC. The book is Out of Control.

So is the review.

Very, very disappointing. I actually was happy to finish. I would have preferred some character background as most true crime books extensively cover the character. This had NONE! Horrible, scattered writing. I was having to flip back pages to see who was who. Very disappointing, especially since I was truly intrigued by this story. Pass on this book…

Now, now, if you haven’t posted a negative review, haven’t you at least clicked on the “was this review helpful” button? I have. Have I ever posted a negative review just to hurt someone? Nope.

You know maybe I should? Maybe I’ll feel better if I turn into a vigilante reviewer warning reviewers of books they should avoid. No I figured it out. They don’t want me dead. They’re trying to save the world from bad writing. Maybe save some trees.

Al Gore, are you listening? Bad reviews mean fewer books. Fewer books mean more trees.

Gregg Olsen blogs with M.William Phelps at


7 Comments so far
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I can’t believe this blog post. It uses CAPITAL LETTERS to show emphasis and internet phrases such as OMG. How childish. I will never read another blog post but this man, Craig Olson again.

(Just kidding… or should I say j/k, Gregg. Good post.)

Comment by Dave White

Love this, Gregg. Your insights are always well worth the time. So are the books — fiction and non. I love the review you got. It just goes to show that you can’t take negative reviews to heart.

And who is that Dave White guy again???

Comment by JT Ellison

LOL Dave and JT. I almost went to Amazon to post a nasty review of your upcoming books! But they won’t let me! Just wait, U R gonna get it!

Comment by killeryear

Interesting review. It is amazing how some people will say bad things just for the sake of it. Your review is certainly interesting and your writing is good, so just ignore those that know less.

Have a great day : – )

Comment by Sleep Improvement

Trust me on this. Any moron can take a shot, and god know’s they do, often……….
Your book is terrific and you know what, that’s what pises em off………….I’m not for one moment suggesting you ever take revenge………… Micks do it better but you can really put it right back at em with a very simple thing……………ignore me
Jesus, they hate that

Comment by Ken Bruen

I love the concept of revenge…so hmmm…I’ll think that one through. One good thing about the negative review: You, Mr. Ken Bruen, stopped by Killer Year and left a comment. Love it. Thanks!

Comment by killeryear

I can’t imagine anyone who knows how much heart, soul, and good old fashioned sweat goes into the writing of a book writing a slasher review. I don’t care how bad a book is: If I can’t honestly say I love it, I say nothing.

p.s. I bought your book at Seattle Mystery Bookstore, and I loved it.

Comment by patry

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