I wonder about the text on the back of P.J. Parrish' An Unquiet Grave.

I just read the book and I liked it. It combines emotion, gripping story telling and surprising elements.

Usually, I don't read the summary on the cover of a book but in this case it happened. At first I was irritated and than I realized it is wrong.

"The body in Claudia Olsen's grave is that of a stranger who died horribly."

Two mistakes in one sentence: The missing corps is not that of Claudia Olson but of Claudia DeFoe and there is not a body of a stranger but there is no body in the grave.

Consequently, this part is summarized on Parrish' homepage as follows:

"The coffin of Claudia DeFoe, the youthful love of Louis's foster father Phillip, is empty. "

How can anything like that happen ? I would think, that the summary on the back is written by someone who read the book. Can it be that the summary was based on a provisional version of the book ? And, pity Parrish can it be, that the book sells so badly, that still the first edition is available (I bought mine at the end of September) ?

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Mistakes happen all the time in publishing. When the paperback version of Tess Gerritsen's The Mephisto Club was released, some of her pages were actually replaced by another author's. It happens.

It's no secret that PJ Parrish is a pseudonym for sisters Kristy Montee and Kelly Nichols. Kris handles most of the online stuff, so if you're really curious you can write to her and ask. Her contact info is on the website.

Paperback originals often have huge print runs, so finding a first edition a year or two after release isn't a reliable indication of how well it sold.
I followed your advice and ask the ladies about the blurb. They answered pronto (I was much impressed) and wrote that the blurb was indeed written after an earlier outline. They saw the mistake on the proof and informed the publisher but, alas ...
I must confess, that I find most blurbs terrible. I buy books because of recommendations ect. and there are several books which I liked, but wouldn't have bought, if the blurb would be my criterion for buying a book. I would guess that it takes a lot of time to make an interesting, correct and "cloudy" text.

"[...] repeated by numerous reviewers, all of whom also presumably read the book"

Frustrating isn't.
Maybe one of the sisters wrote the book, the other did the jacket blurb (I'm kidding).
Most of the really good books I've read in my life have been ones that are very difficult to summarize. Usually easy to summarize means, "high concept," and I say leave that for Hollywood. The beauty of books is that they can be long and complicated and take many twists and turns.

This might be an interesting topic, though, what are the best back cover descritions you've ever read?
I disagree, John. I think you shold be able to summarize the central premise of any book with one sentence.

An FBI trainee enlists the help of a killer in captivity to gain insight to the motives and possible location of one on the loose.

We expect complications, twists and turns, etc., but the central premise is simple and easily stated.

For a book to work, IMO, it should be possible for the "big picture" to be seen in very few words.
Sure, every book can be reduced to a sentence. What I mean is, often books are far better than the one sentence, or one paragraph, description make them sound. 'Cause you know, the devil is in the details...;)
By the same token, a book can fail to live up to its blurb. Movies don't live up to their trailers all the time. Speaking of trailers, has anyone else seen the new trend towards "book trailers?"They're showing up on youtube now.
If i tell you about the trailer for my book on YouTube is that BSP?


For some reason I don't mind so much when books fail to live up to the blurbs, I just don't like it if I miss a good one because the blurb or summary didn't really get it right. I guess I don't usually put much stock in them on their own.
Blurbs are written by editors or editors' assistants. Sometimes they pass them by the author. I prefer it if someone else peppers the summary with words like "riveting," "brilliant," and other flattering adjectives. Those I generally leave alone (unless they are too ridiculous) but I do correct factual errors.
Come to think of it, those blurbs were generally the ones that went into the sales catalogs. The book blurbs were much better. No complaints here anyway.


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