You could hear a gasp (well, an e-gasp) from the cyber-lit community about a month ago when Grumpy Old Bookman announced his retirement. In truth, he didn't announce his total retirement, but rather stated he would be posting less frequently. His legion of readers reacted as the faithful might have if the Pope remarked he might still drop through church every so often, but that it shouldn't be expected as a regular thing anymore.
Grumpy has been true to his word: he hasn't stopped posting, but he's been averaging about one per week, which means there have only been four posts since his change of policy.
Shortly before his shocking declaration, GOB reviewed MNW writer Frances Garrood's recent novel Dead Ernest (which, incidentally, just arrived in my mailbox). I won't attempt to summarize the review--you should go read it for yourself--but I was surprised at the extent of his praise. Grumpy isn't normally Mr. Effusive, especially about books centered on domestic matters and slanted toward a female audience, so his unreserved admiration for the book is doubly astonishing. Makes me want to stop typing and go start reading.
As I said, there have only been four posts from Grumpy in the past four weeks, but the fourth is a review of MNW writer Brian McGilloway's forthcoming mystery novel Borderlands. The review of Borderlands begins in a rather more circumspect tone, discussing the fact that MNW seems to be treating the book as the first in an important series, and questioning whether this is the right decision. After some delay (he has written suspense novels himself, so he knows how to let us dangle a bit), Grumpy then goes on to answer his own question in the affirmative--it's a good book and a promising setup.
The rest of the review follows the same pattern: some observations on how hard it is to make a book of this sort work, and then compliments to McGilloway for having cleared the hurdle. As he begins to wrap up, he adds, "I found this quite gripping -- and that is not a word that I use lightly." Indeed it isn't. Grumpy knows his way around the literary world in general, but he knows crime and suspense fiction intimately, and he isn't easily pleased.
Congratulations to both Frances and Brian for coaxing great reviews out of the Grumpy Old Hermit. (And thanks to Grumpy for not vanishing from the scene entirely.)