Best-sellling crime writer RJ Ellory has been caught writing favorable reviews of his own books on Amazon.com—and penning scathing reviews of his competitors' books. The British writer was exposed by spy thriller author Jeremy Duns, who blew the whistle on Ellory on Twitter, reports ABC. "Ellory writes 5-star reviews of his own work on Amazon—long, purple tributes to his own magnificent genius," Duns tweeted. He "also writes shoddy, sniping reviews of others authors' work on Amazon," under assumed identities, including "Jelly Bean" and "Nicodemus Jones," a practice Duns condemns as "sock puppetry."
One of the reviews shamelessly called an Ellory book a "modern masterpiece" with paragraphs and chapters that "just stopped me dead in my tracks." The reviews have been taken off the Amazon site, though there has been no statement from Amazon. Ellory admitted writing the reviews, and apologized. "I wholeheartedly regret the lapse of judgment," he said in a statement to the Telegraph. "I would like to apologize to my readers and the writing community." The practice of writers penning their own reviews online under fake identities is widespread, warns a group of authors, which says the "underhanded tactics" are destroying Internet credibility and publishing.