So far the newspaper reviews of Nightfall have all been favourable, but I am getting some flack on Amazon.co.uk. I'm a big fan of Amazon but I do get annoyed at the way all feedback/reviews are treated equally. Sometimes reviewers are wrong or mean or idiots, and their reviews are treated in the same way as a 'real' reviewer who has posted hundreds of reviews. I mean, what sort of moron gives a book one star because he doesn't like the premise? Okay, I get that if you didn't like the premise you wouldn't give it five stars, but on Amazon.co.uk one star is the lowest rating you can give so giving Nightfall one star means they are saying it is the worst book possible.
I really despair when I read a review from someone who says they are a fan of my work and who then procedes to slag off a particular book. When you click on the button to see the other reviews they've written it turns out that the book they are slagging off is the only review they've ever done. Here's the thing. If they are indeed such a fan, why didn't they write reviews of the books that they liked? Why the one time they decide to write a review do they take the opportunity of slagging me off? I think that their definition of 'fan' and my definition might not be the same. If they'd posted half a dozen reviews on the books that they'd enjoyed and then written a negative review, I might take them seriously.
Here's a few one star reviews that were posted recently -
By E. Marshall (yorkshire)
having been an avid stephen leather fan for years i struggled with this book. he seems to have changed his style of writing and sadly i found it hard work totally lacking his usual gripping story line.so sad.
By Mark Allen
Let me start by saying that I am a big Stephen Leather fan and have been reading his books ever since I picked up a copy of The Stretch 10 years ago. Each year I look forward to his upcoming book and I have never been disappointed...until now. Nightfall is easily the worst book Mr Leather has produced - a book encompassing religion, demons, spells and satanism. If this is to your taste then fair enough, but what I have always liked about the authors previous efforts is their realism - the author clearly does his homework and can often paint a very accurate picture of life in various cultures and professions. But when you mix this with magic and demons it just doesn't work. Another problem with this book is that there are no likeable characters - as I read through I wouldn't have minded if any of the main characters had been killed off, and the message the lead character (Jack Nightingale) keeps seeing and hearing "YOUR GOING TO HELL JACK NIGHTINGALE" is probably the least scariest message someone could encounter. The book has the same fast paced writing style as previous Stephen Leather books and I think this is the only reason I managed to finish it. I think this book would probably suit the 13-14 age group more than adult readers, and if you are encountering Stephen Leather for the first time I would strongly reccomend that you skip this effort. Having said this, I am still looking forward to the next Dan Shepherd installment but will not be reading any follow-up's to Nightfall. I hope the author continues to produce two books a year instead of one, but two Dan Shepherd books would be much preferred to any more like this.
By A Bookfan (Loughborough UK)
I have read and enjoyed all of Stephen Leather's previous novels to the extent that I bought this new one without reading any summary.
What a disappointment the satanic and supernatural!!. I did not enjoy this and regret wasting my money on it. I enjoy a thriller as long as it is not too far fetched and totally unbelievable.
In my opinion he should get back to writing what his fans like .
A good "believable" and exciting thriller.
I will certainly check before I buy another.
Hmmm. All three claim to be fans, but in all three cases Nightfall is the only book they have ever reviewed on Amazon! Not one has bothered to review any of my books that they liked, or any other book for that matter. Wouldn't a true fan have posted reviews of books that they had enjoyed?
Here's the thing. The criticisms seem to be levied at the subject matter. And I do understand that not all fans of the Dan Shepherd books want to read a thriller involving Satanists and devil-worshippers! But this is what the blurb says on the back of Nightfall -
‘You’re going to hell, Jack Nightingale.’ They are words that ended his career as a police negotiator. Now Jack’s a struggling private investigator – and the chilling words come back to haunt him.
Nightingale’s life is turned upside down the day that he inherits a mansion with a priceless library; it comes from a man who claims to be his father, and it comes with a warning. That Nightingale’s soul was sold at birth and a devil will come to claim it on his thirty third birthday – just three weeks away.
Jack doesn’t believe in Hell, probably doesn’t believe in Heaven either. But when people close to him start to die horribly, he is led to the inescapable conclusion that real evil may be at work. And that if he doesn’t find a way out he’ll be damned in hell for eternity.
Now, I don't see how anyone can read that, buy the book, and then award the book one-star because they didn't like the premise! If you didn't like the premise, why did you buy the book in the first place?
Some reviews on Amazon are helpful, and I do take on board what readers say. But telling me they don't like the subject matter isn't helpful criticism. And at the risk of repeating myself, I don't think that just because someone doesn't like the subject matter means the book deserves one star. I don't like chick-lit, much. Should I go through Amazon giving one star to every chick-lit book?. Of course not. I just don't buy chick-lit. And just because I don't buy Confessions Of A Shopaholic doesn't mean it's not a five-star book. It is. It's brilliantly written and I wish I had Sophie Kinsella's sales figures!
Anyway, enough of a rant. For the sake of my blood pressure I'll just stop reading the reviews on Amazon.
And I wonder if I could ask a favour of any real fans who drop by this blog. If you bought Nightfall and enjoyed it, please post a favourable review on Amazon. And if you use your real name, I'll try to put you in the next Dan Shepherd book. (Not you, Kim, you're still in prison in Tango One!)