Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Why’d You Go, Bernadette?

Well-known crime-fiction reviewer Bernadette Bean, who had been writing the Reactions to Reading blog ever since 2008, has passed away unexpectedly, according to California author and blogger Margot Kinberg. “I don’t have a lot of details,” Kinberg explains in a Facebook post. “I’m told it was a massive heart attack.”

In a short piece today for Confessions of a Mystery Novelist, Kinberg calls Bean—a voracious reader and resident of Adelaide, Australia—“not just a friend to crime fiction, but ... also, I’m privileged to say, a personal friend.” She goes on to say:
Anyone who ever read ... [Reactions to Reading] will know that her reviews were thoughtful, candid, and intelligent. I learned every single time I visited. And part of the reason I did is that she didn’t confine herself to just bestsellers or “the book everyone’s talking about.” She read books from “no-names,” too, and if they were well-written, she said so, and encouraged other people to read them, too. Her blog was a rich resource of reviews, opinions, rants, charts, and really helpful information about crime fiction.

Bernadette was a champion of Australian and New Zealand crime fiction, and she introduced me to a number of authors from that part of the world that I would never have tried otherwise. You might not know this, but she also did a lot behind the scenes to promote crime fiction by Australians (especially Australian women) and New Zealanders. She was on award panels (not an easy job) and committees, and never missed an opportunity to be a voice for the genre.
Karen Meek adds in Euro Crime: “I loved reading her reviews—no flim-flam with Bernadette, you knew her opinion of a book. She was a champion of women writers, Australian writers, and especially Australian women crime writers, and bricks-and-mortar bookshops. She was a good friend of [Petrona blogger] Maxine [Clarke], who we lost five years ago, and I think they had a lot in common.”

After hearing word of Bean’s demise, I sought to contact (via Facebook) an Australian friend of hers, fellow Adelaide resident Kerrie Smith, who blogs at Mysteries in Paradise (and co-hosted, with Bean, yet another bookish Web site, Fair Dinkum Crime). I was hoping to receive confirmation of Bean’s death, as well as information about her age and recent health. However, I still have not heard back from Smith. I shall update this post if and when I do.

FOLLOW-UP: Bill Selnes, who writes the excellent blog Mysteries and More from Saskatchewan, sent along the following death notice from an Adelaide tabloid called The Advertiser:
BEAN, Bernadette. Bernadette left us suddenly on Saturday, February 17, 2018. Beloved daughter of Bill and Maureen, sister of Damien and his wife Karen and doting aunt of Celeste and Alyssa. She also graced and impacted the lives of so many and will be missed by dear friends Trish and Fran. There will be a Celebration of Bernadette's Life at her home on Sunday, March 11, 2018, at 2:00 p.m. In lieu of flowers, Bernadette would appreciate support of the Norwood Public Library.
Meanwhile, Kerrie Smith has posted a short tribute to Bean in Fair Dinkum Crime, the blog they co-hosted. She writes in part:
I first met Bernadette soon after she created Fair Dinkum Crime. She lurked on my blog Mysteries in Paradise, left almost frightening comments particularly where she thought I had got it wrong or had been far too generous, and then she asked if we could meet. I was surprised to learn that she lived only a matter of suburbs away. She had a proposition for me. She asked over coffee if she could copy some of my reviews of Australian crime fiction to her new blog which was to review Australian crime fiction only. That arrangement began in July 2009. Then in June 2011 she made me an editing contributor.

Bernadette joined our local monthly crime-fiction reading group sometime in that period and has been an active member ever since. She was always a champion of Australian crime fiction, particularly women writers, and she extended her interest more widely to some British and some translated crime fiction, particularly by female writers. We relied on her to tell us what was new, and what was worth hunting down. She was also a champion of local libraries. Our group members used to have an “in-joke” when talking about a book we had just been reading—we knew which ones Bernadette would have hated.
Smith concludes by saying, “I am not sure at this stage what the future of Fair Dinkum Crime is. I’m not even sure that I know all I need to know about maintaining it. In many ways it was Bernadette’s baby.”

Let’s hope she does maintain the blog, if only in Bean’s memory.

READ MORE:A Tip of the Hat to a Revered Blogger,” by Brad Friedman (Ah Sweet Mystery Blog).

1 comment:

Icewineanne said...

A sad day for fans of her blog.