UPDATE: our winner is Anton Jansons, of Riga (Latvia). Congratulations Anton, and thanks to everyone who participated. Stay tuned, I'll have other great titles to give away soon.
To be published on August 27, by Amazon's Thomas & Mercer imprint, the new crime novel by John Rector, Out of the Black, is up for grabs here. If you've never read Rector before, you're missing on a great new talent; and if you've read him before, you'll want this one before everybody else, right? Well, here's your chance to win a copy: send me your name and address before Saturday, August 2nd, at 11:59 pm (23 h 59) Montréal time. Everyone aged 18 and over is eligible. No purchase necessary, no bribes either. Bonne chance!

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John Rector has recently received an International Thriller Award for his novella Lost Things, and his previous novel, Already Gone, was shortlisted for the 2012 International Thriller Award. Rector also published three other novels and one short story collection, The Walls Around Us.  



I'm writing this to let you know about the situation here at The House of Crime & Mystery, and about the reasons I've been silent for most of the last few months. I've had a car accident and health issues derived from it have prevented me from a certain quality of life. One of the repercussions was that I couldn't read or write for more than 15-20 minutes at a time without getting strong headaches and dizziness. Concentrating on a specific task was nearly impossible. I've started writing many reviews but couldn't finish them. It came to the point where I’ve seriously been thinking of closing down The House.  

Then, as if that wasn't enough, two major events have put that aside: in mid-June, one of my brothers decided to leave his climbing expedition on Nanga Parbat Mountain (in Pakistan) because he "didn't have a good vibe about it"; a few hours later, a group of Talibans killed a dozen climbers at base camp. One of the victims was on my brother's expedition.

Less than a month ago, a runaway train full of crude oil derailed and exploded in a little town (Lac Mégantic), wiping out half of downtown and killing 50 people. A town where my 84-year old mother lives, just a little outside of downtown. Her home was in the path of the black cloud of smoke which was raining drops of hot oïl. My mother is fine although a bit stressed out; my brother is fine although he just broke his wrist on the bike path; I am doing much better although I still get headaches and neck pain some days. To say that all three of us are lucky to still be alive would be an understatement. We know that a few centimeters to the left when a car collides with mine, or the decision taken is to stay at base camp one more day, or whether a fire spreads to a few more houses, can all tip the balance of life and death to the wrong side.

Sometimes it’s the little things, minor events in your life, that make you want to re-focus your goals and priorities, the ones you really care for and want to see through. Other times, major events like a car accident in which you come out with barely a scratch, or a loved-one escaping serious injury –or even death—will make you start questioning yourself until you decide that you want –that you need—to reassess your life; in my case, it means less time spent on the road (for work), more at home, and to keep The House open with regular updates (reviews, interviews and other views, etc.), and to continue writing fiction every day. I've changed jobs and I'm nearing the end of my novel.
After careful consideration and much thought, I’ve decided I had worked too hard to build The House to stop and end it all now. We’ll see how it goes but one thing I decided to focus on is to review books I really am interested in. That’s one of the reasons I started doing this gig (a hobby) but because I can’t say no (and because I was new to this whole thing), I’ve agreed too often to read books that didn’t really interest me. Fortunately, I’ve enjoyed the books more times than not, although I’ve ended up reading a lot of stuff that I never talked about or reviewed; sometimes because I didn’t enjoy the read, other times because I couldn’t find the time to write a review. My mother always told me: “If you have nothing nice to say, keep your mouth shut”. To writers and publicists out there who’ve sent me books (or who’d like to do so), let me be clear about this: if I don’t enjoy the story enough, I won’t write a review. When I have time to write reviews I prefer to concentrate on books that I enjoyed. I’m here to help promote books and authors, not to denigrate them—someone else might enjoy them.

I’ve also read many good books that I didn’t review, which is why I am now doing shorter reviews in bulk; to talk about more books and hopefully spend more time reading more of them. One thing we should all keep in mind is that this is all done as a hobby for most bloggers out there, me included; we are not getting paid to do it, it is all for pleasure: the pleasure of reading, the pleasure of passing along our enthusiasm about books, and the pleasure of keeping the book world alive and thriving as much as possible. I’m not a journalist anymore so I don’t follow the rules of journalism (whichever they are, and whatever their purposes). I do it all for fun; if you’re not happy about it, no one is forcing you to be here.
Even though I haven't posted much lately, The House of Crime& Mystery has welcomed its 135,000th visitor (on July 15th) and the constant traffic tells me that there must be something I'm doing right.  We are averaging 9,000 visits per month, since last March, so thank you very much, merci beaucoup! I still enjoy doing it and I'm back at it this summer, reading a lot, writing about it, and posting again.

Which brings me to the final word, intended to publicists and writers who send me books: I can’t guarantee that I will write a review (I know most of you understand that part, but I'm saying it for the others); how can I guarantee a review when I haven’t read the book yet. If I’m scheduled on a blog tour, I will cancel if I didn’t like the story because I will never endorse a book I didn’t enjoy. I write honest reviews --even if my English is not perfect (keep in mind that it is my second language).

I’m sincerely glad you’re spending time here, and I definitely hope you’ll come back to The House. The door is always open and I keep the interior as clean, as enjoyable, and as fresh as possible. Don't hesitate to leave comments, the praise as well as the criticism (as long as it's constructive feedback).
I hope this wasn't too long and that it all makes sense, but in the end, I want to say thank you for your continued support, and à bientôt.

The Landlord
July 19th, 2013