Crime fiction beats powerful blogs

Lots of excuses to get annoyed, should you so wish, either at The Observer for their list of the 50 "most powerful" blogs, featuring no book discussion; or at The Telegraph (the other week) for their much-pulled-apart list of 50 crime writers to read before you die.

The unimaginative, even lazy, Observer list is the usual mix of gossip, technology and eccentric blogs– Huffington Post at number one, Boing Boing number two, PerzHilton, Techcrunch, Dooce and quite a few I haven’t heard of but won’t be checking out. Like the Telegraph piece, the Observer list is multi-authored, but unlike the Telegraph article, is simply a one-paragraph summary of each featured blog. For me, a more interesting "list" in a mainstream newspaper would have involved a little bit of actual journalism, and rather than being a list of these very well known and/or currently trendy blogs, would have focused on finding niche, "hidden jewel" blogs. It wouldn’t take long, as there are plenty of them about.

The Telegraph article (published on 23 Feb) has stimulated a predictably stormy reaction among the universe’s crime-fiction bloggers. Uriah Robinson posts on Crime Scraps about "Controversy from the Telegraph", with plenty of opinions in the comment thread. The Rap Sheet is drawing up a must-read list of its own, asking readers to nominate suggestions. CrimeFicReader of It’s a Crime! identifies some significant omissions; Declan Burke calls the list "crimes against crime fiction" at his blog Crime Always Pays; "enough to drive you mad", writes Kerrie at Mysteries in Paradise; Peter Rozovsky of Detectives Beyond Borders asks "who belongs, who doesn’t"?; and as late as today, Sarah Weinman’s Idiosyncratic Mind ruminated on one omitted author on the Guardian book blog.

Many of these posts have comment threads expressing opinions and suggesting authors: indeed, the Telegraph itself asked readers what they thought of the list, and currently has more than 300 responses (five times as many as those who wanted to quiz Jeffrey Archer, three times as many as those concerned about the rise of China, not quite as many as those concerned about ID cards, and quite a lot fewer than those offering an opinion about whether Prince Harry should be "fighting on the front line"). Although Crime Scraps and its commenters identified that the authors of the Telegraph article weren’t as well qualified as one might have hoped to write on this topic, I’m pleased to see so much response, and potentially, when I have time to visit all these links I’ve just collected up here, to find some good new authors to read. I think the Telegraph article, whatever its original quality, has stimulated a much more interesting discussion than the boring Observer list of "powerful" blogs is likely to do.