Posted by: nancycurteman | February 28, 2011

How to Write a Book Review

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As mystery writers, one of the things we need to do from time to time is provide support for other authors by writing a short review or commentary on a book they have published. Here are some suggestions on how to write a book review.

• The most important and time-consuming thing you need to do is read the book.

• State the book title, genre and sub genre: Cozy mystery readers will delight in Jane Smith’s hilarious new novel, “Murder in a Teacup.”

• In a few sentences, describe the basic plot. Remember, the book has already been written. You don’t have to rewrite it.

• Mention one or two memorable characters and their challenges: Amateur sleuth Mary Scott’s inept handling of a murder investigation will keep you laughing even after she accidentally discovers and engages the equally inept villain.

• A word about setting and culture could enhance your book review: Mystery readers will find themselves immersed in the scenery and culture of Eastern Montana as they peek into the daily lives of Smith’s characters depicted through her rich description and details.

• Consider mentioning the universal emotions the author describes: Anyone who has experienced the frustration of repeated failures despite best effort will empathize with Jane Smith’s bungling, well-meaning antagonist.

• Add a recommendation: For a light summer read, I recommend, “Murder in a Teacup.”

When you write your book review or commentary, you may choose to include all or some of the above suggestions. The important thing is to write the best review you can.

Finally, here is a sample book commentary I wrote for a fellow author.

If you enjoy a quick read with a fresh plot that is packed with humor, full of unexpected twists and a surprise ending, “Hearts Made of Stone” is the book for you. Author A. Carey has written a book that deals with a universal problem almost everyone has had to face at least once—How to put an end to a romantic relationship that has turned stale. Further, Carey presents a solution that seems like a win for all concerned until events turn negative for his antagonist. Read Carey’s book to find out what can happen when people intrude into the emotional lives of strangers.

More Writing Tips:

How to Write a Query Letter for a Mystery Novel
How to Write a Synopsis of Your Mystery Novel
How to Market Your Mystery Novel


  1. Well, this clinches it . . . I know who I’m going to ask to review my first book. 🙂

    Excellent examples, NC.
    A. Carey is lucky, indeed, to have your review of Hearts Made Of Stone!


  2. This definitely gives me pause…


  3. Although I am not a mystery writer, I love reading them! This is an illuminating post, and I also agree with Nancy.


  4. Rush by lucia jordan.

    Is a exciting book . Good book to read in summer . Loved it


  5. I have just read the mystery novel “Third Degree Murder” by Olga Swan. I found it very easy to read and it held my attention throughout. The story is most descriptive and has a few twists in it. I recommend this book as a light read and a clever insight into academia life. I like the characters of the two girls and how they get on together. Good holiday read for anyone.


    • “Third Degree Murder” sounds like a good mystery. You wrote a very fine review that would certainly attack interest to the novel.


  6. I have just read “Killer Music” by Tammy L.Grace. I loved all the characters and found them quite distinctive. The mystery novel is well-crafted although I would have liked a stronger motive on the part of the villain. Coop Harrington is so real he could step off the page and so are the other characters. I look forward to more Coop Harrington mysteries.

    Ava Overstreet on September 26, 2016


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