Crime Writer RJ Ellory Caught Faking Amazon Reviews

RJ Ellory's fake Amazon reviews were exposed by fellow writer Jeremy Duns.

ByABC News
September 3, 2012, 12:03 PM

Sept. 3, 2012 — -- Best-selling crime writer RJ Ellory has been caught red-handed faking both positive and negative book reviews on Amazon. Ellory was writing glowing reviews for his own books and slamming his competitors' books.

Ellory, a British novelist, was exposed by fellow writer Jeremy Duns who disseminated his evidence against Ellory in a series of tweets.

"Ellory writes 5-star reviews of his own work on Amazon. Long, purple tributes to his own magnificent genius," Duns tweeted. "RJ Ellory also writes shoddy, sh***y sniping reviews of others authors' work on Amazon, under an assumed identity."

Through a tip and some slip-ups on Ellory's part, Duns discovered that Ellory was posting reviews under at least two pseudonyms, "Jelly Bean" and "Nicodemus Jones."

Duns tweeted that he noticed that both of those "users" had given all of Ellory's books five stars and given them praise-filled reviews.

In Nicodemus Jones' review of Ellory's best-selling book "A Quiet Belief in Angels," he called it a "modern masterpiece" and told readers "there are paragraphs and chapters that just stopped me dead in my tracks."

"Just buy it, read it, and make up your own mind," the review said. "Whatever else it might do, it will touch your soul."

The novel has sold over a million copies worldwide.

The reviews have been taken down, but Duns and others took the precaution of taking screen grabs of the Amazon reviews before they were taken down and tweeted the images.

Duns also tweeted images of the times that Ellory appeared to forget which account he was signed into. There were written responses from the pseudonyms that were signed from "Roger."

"Jelly Bean" and "Nicodemus Jones" also slammed Ellory's competitors in a series of negative reviews.

"I think this is a shame. So many good authors given so little advertising and promotion, and here we have another tiresome same-old, same-old from someone who could do so much better," "Jelly Bean" wrote of Stuart MacBride's "Dark Blood."

"The humour just isn't that humorous. The tension just isn't that tense. The gory bits are just...well, gory I suppose, but what that matters I do not know," the review continued. "I think the British/Scottish crime fiction market is long overdue for a major shift in direction. Enough of the routine and predictable. Let's have something new and fresh for a change. Anyone with me?"

Ellory's publisher, Orion books, did not respond to request for comment from today, but in a statement to the Daily Telegraph, Ellory owned up to his behavior and apologized:

"The recent reviews – both positive and negative – that have been posted on my Amazon accounts are my responsibility and my responsibility alone.

"I wholeheartedly regret the lapse of judgment that allowed personal opinions to be disseminated in this way and I would like to apologise to my readers and the writing community."

Many readers and fellow writers are condemning the writer online.

"Like others in publishing, we became aware recently of the practice of authors assuming fake identities on blogs, Twitter or Amazon to promote their own work, and in some cases, allegedly give bad reviews to that of other writers," the Crime Writers Association said in a statement.

"The CWA feels this practice is unfair to authors and also to the readers who are so supportive of the crime genre," they wrote. "It does not fit with our ethos of supporting all published crime authors and promoting the crime genre."

Duns tweeted that he chose to expose Ellory because "it is only right."

"I've never read Ellory's work, have once shaken his hand, this is not a personal attack, I'm not the world's ethics policeman," Duns wrote. "Prasing yourself is pathetic. Attacking other writers like this? I have no time for it, and have no time for anyone who defends it."