Amazon Reviews and Authors

I have a post up this morning at Maine Crime Writers talking about the strange experience, sometimes thrilling and sometimes surreal, of reading the anonymous and psedonymous reviews of one's novels on Amazon, iBooks, Shelfari, Goodreads, Librarything, and all the new online venues for selling and discussing books. It's a brave new world when a reviewer pans the novel you spent six years writing because she found the voice of the audiobook narrator to be "annoying." One frantic mystery author I know tried to petition Amazon to remove a review because she felt it spoiled the ending of her book. Amazon ignored her, as you might have expected. Do book buyers read starred online reviews, I ask. And more to the point can they help—or hurt—sales?