Monday, March 5, 2018

A tribute to Bernadette

I was very saddened to hear of the passing of Bernadette Bean who blogged her crime fiction reviews at Reactions to Reading and Fair Dinkum Crime. Although we never met, I corresponded with her for almost a decade via a Friendfeed group, later the Petrona Crime and Mystery Friends group on Facebook, via comments on blogs, and through email. I was very grateful when she generously took the time to read and comment on a work-in-progress, what was then titled 'Saving Siobhan' which eventually became 'Stumped'.

The great thing about Bernadette's blog and her correspondence was you could trust her to say exactly what she thought and to provide a reasoned rationale to support her views, and do so in an engaging manner. For someone trying to decide what to books to hunt down and read, those kinds of reviews are invaluable. It's also useful advice for an author as long as they're not too thin-skinned to take criticism and learn from the insights. And Bernadette had plenty of insight and I always felt she would have made a great literary editor.

Bernadette was foremost a champion of good reads and listens (see was an avid audio book listener). She was a fan of engaging stories that were well told. Like every reader she had her tastes and interests, but she'd give every book a fair assessment. She was also prepared to take a chance and read books by first-time authors and if she liked what she read she become their champion.

She also had her causes. She was an ardent supporter of female writers, fiction by Australian authors, and libraries (the picture above is from a recent protest to protect Norwood Library in Adelaide). I'd hazard she had the most encyclopedic knowledge of Australian crime fiction and had certainly read more work, by more Australian crime authors, bar her co-blogger on Fair Dinkum Crime, Kerrie Smith. And she was certainly a great ambassador for Australian crime fiction - enough so that I would import books only available in the Australian market (which is surprisingly difficult to do and still drives me crazy).

As a reader I owe her a great debt as the quality of my reading has increased immeasurably by hunting down books she recommended. Several of those books have made it onto my end of year 'best reads' list, including my top read of last year: The Rules of Backyard Cricket by Jock Serong. Only a couple of weeks ago I ordered a couple of books she'd reviewed and I've shuffled Ausma Zehanat Khan's 'The Unquiet Dead' to the top of my pile and will do the same with Vaseem Khan's 'The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra' once it arrives to read in tribute. I'm going to miss her reviews and recommendations immensely, but will continue to revisit her archive to find new books to try.

If there is a heaven, then I imagine Bernadette has already discovered its extensive library and is holed up in the crime fiction section, working her way through the collection. And she certainly 'will not be shushed' while resident.

May she rest in peace.

Some other tributes can be found at:
Bernadette at A Crime is Afoot
Vale Bernadette at Confessions of a Mystery Novelist
A tribute to Bernadette in Oz at Mrs. Peabody Investigates
A Sad Loss at Euro Crime
A Tribute to Bernadette in Oz at Fair Dinkum Crime
RIP Bernadette at Reactions to Reading at Clothes in Books
Why’d You Go, Bernadette? at The Rap Sheet
RIP Bernadette Bean, blogger at Reactions to Reading by Patricia Abbot
A Tip of the Hat to a Revered Blogger at Ah Sweet Mystery Blog


Jose Ignacio Escribano said...

Rob, I've included a link to your post in my blog.

Rob Kitchin said...

Thanks. I'll have to track down other tributes and add them to my post. I'll try and do that tonight.

pattinase (abbott) said...

A great loss. She was a wonderful reviewer and a steadfast supporter of books, libraries, all of it.

Anonymous said...

An excellent tribute to a fine person, ROb. She was, among many other things, a great supporter of writers; I felt it, and I'm glad you did, too. We will miss her.

Anonymous said...

An excellent tribute to a fine person, ROb. She was, among many other things, a great supporter of writers; I felt it, and I'm glad you did, too. We will miss her.

TracyK said...

This is a very nice post, Rob. I have enjoyed reading posts like yours to learn things about Bernadette that I did not know. I appreciated her opinions on books and her kindness.

Anonymous said...

A wonderful tribute Rob. Her blog was always a must-read for me. And like yourself, i was always frustrated when I couldn’t easily get the books she recommended.