Most of her friends will know by now that Bernadette of Reactions to Reading, one of the great crime fiction bloggers, died on February 17th, very suddenly.
She was an inspired and inspirational blogger, and there are excellent tributes to her over at Margot’s Confessions of a Mystery Novelist and Brad’s Ah Sweet Mystery Blog.
On hearing of her death I realized how little I knew about her personal life: I felt I knew her well as a fellow-reader over the past six years, but she dropped only occasional hints about her life. I didn’t know her last name (Bean) till now – for a long time I thought she was Bernadette Inoz, as she used to sign herself as that. I had never seen a picture of her even. *** Added later: I have only just realized (after reading the comment from Kerrie below) that her online name was Bernadette In Oz - hence my confusion...
But still: she was a good friend, and I did know her, and I am glad that I did.
She wrote the best reviews, whether praising a book (which you would immediately add to your list, if not flatout buy on the spot) or one of her occasional rants, which made me laugh out loud on a regular basis. For a great example, read her on The Girl on the Train – I see that my comment on this post at the time was that her bad reviews are ‘the best fun on the internet’. This is Bernadette, starting as she means to go on:
THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN won’t be joining my collection of great train mysteries. In my head it will be forever known as THE DRUNK I WISH HAD FALLEN UNDER A TRAIN but I guess that’s not a title that speeds off the bookstore shelves with quite the same volume as books with the now almost ubiquitous GIRL title do.She was also a nuanced, thoughtful and perceptive writer. A great example I would pick is her post on Ferdinand von Schirach’s The Collini Case back in 2013 – she raised important questions in her review, and that provoked a marvellous array of comments arguing about the book: all of it was illuminating.
She recommended a book by Lou Berney, and when I loved it too she said ‘There ought to be a word for that particular warm feeling that comes when a book you have loved yourself is loved by someone else. I bet the Germans have a word for it :)’.
When she talked about Ariana Franklin’s Adelia books, I tried the first one and immediately had to buy them all.
I hate the thought that there will be no more recommendations from her, no more of ‘Moira you must read this one, great clothes’, no more of our shared love of Greyladies Press and the ‘well-mannered books by ladies long gone’. And I will remember with pride that I introduced her to the word ‘bonkbuster’ in this post, resulting in yet another great discussion.
I once said, blogging on one of the books she had told me to read:
Bernadette is a wonderful reviewer, I find her take on books incredibly helpful – she expresses ideas and reactions that I never see in other places: she has an honesty and perception that you don’t realize are missing from other reviews till you read hers.She had such a distinctive and individual voice, and even right now, when I am devastated by the news, I am smiling to think of her great turns of phrase, her funny rants, her incisive views.
She will be much missed by all of us. RIP Bernadette, blogger extraordinaire.
**** Another friend, Jose Ignacio Scribano has done a lovely job on his blog, A Crime is Afoot - at the end of his own tribute he has listed links to other bloggers' posts, and also some links to Bernadette's work.