Like many people in the crime and mystery fiction community, I have taken issue on occasion with Georgia-based book critic Harriet Klausner. Once the No. 1-ranked reviewer on Amazon.com, with tens of thousands of book appraisals posted there (and elsewhere), Klausner never seemed to dislike anything she read--and she supposedly read a hell of a lot of novels. Her writing style was nothing better than formulaic, and she became notorious in some quarters for selling the free review copies she received for free.
But when I read today that the 63-year-old Klausner, a “former librarian with a master’s degree in library science,” passed away on October 15, I felt nothing but sadness that an individual so evidently passionate about books should have been taken so soon. I was not alone. “I know there was much controversy about her, but, as a beneficiary of her intent to bring lesser-known writers without big publicity to the fore, I always appreciated her kind reviews,” reads one comment attached to Mystery Fanfare’s Klausner obituary. Adds another: “Whatever else she did, she was dedicated to spreading the word about books, and for that I am grateful.”
READ MORE: “The Woman Who Wrote 31,014 Amazon Book Reviews and Upended the Internet, Dead at 63,” by Sarah Kaplan (The Washington Post); “RIP: Prolific Amazon Reviewer Harriet Klausner (1952-2015),” by Chris Meadows (TeleRead); “Rage, Rage Against the Amazon Reviewers,” by Annoyed Librarian (Library Journal).