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Reflections of a working writer and reader



Reviews: 3 King of the Streets

Brings heart, invention and wit to the business of adapting the tough-guy novel to the realities of contemporary Britain. King of the Streets will depress the local tourist board but bring cheer to crime and mystery readers. Baker stirs the traditional (detective’s office trashed yet again) and the fashionable (alcoholism, bulimia, self-mutilation and paedophilia) together with a slapdash hand but the heady mix he produces certainly has an authentic tang to it. He has a fine eye for urban sleaze and an ear for the turn of contemporary speech. Both are put to their best use in giving us a villainous pair of bodybuilders with shrunken brains and shrinking testicles. They stick in the memory, by turns hilarious and monstrous, pathetic and frightening, wreaking havoc wherever they pass. Ian Ousby, Independent on Sunday.

Just like every other city, York has its seamy side. And in his understated way, John Baker rips away the fabric of gentility and reveals the real life that seeths underneath. His characters endear themselves to us, and we care what happens to them. The writing is always quirky, never flashy, and in spite of the horrors that we keep glimpsing out of the corner of our eyes, he leaves us wanting more of an engaging crew who feel like friends by the end of the book. Val McDermid, novelist, Tangled Web.

The British private-eye story is a strong contender for the least credible branch of crime fiction, but Baker gives the genre an interesting spin. Baker has an eye for the off-beat idea and produces scenes that alternately delight, disgust and excite. Style and character are top class. Thumbs up to Mr B for avoiding the easy option of aping American writers to give us something braver and bolder. In fact, if I was going to compare him with anyone, I’d say he was to private sector crime solving what John Harvey is to the police procedural. Yeah, he’s that good. Calum Mcleod, Shots.

This is not a book for the sensitive or those after entertainment that will not touch them, but of its kind it is fast-paced and good. Alex Auswaks, The Jerusalem Post.

John Baker’s taut new thriller. The breakneck plot centres on the abduction and murder of a runaway kid by two impressively grotesque heavies, Ben and Gog. This is an adroit and thoughtful thriller, well worth a read. Pete Whittaker, Tribune.

As a look at the seamier side of the underlife in a prosperous city, the author spares no-one. Indeed he suggests the police force is a corrupt body taking bribes and turning a blind eye to many crimes. This is not a book for the squeamish but has its own moral tale. Baker gets better with every book. CADS.

Steeped in the hard-boiled genre of Chandler and Elroy. Brilliant. Peterborough Evening Telegraph.

I took King of the Streets away with me and enjoyed it immensely. The best of anybody’s I’ve read in a long time. Well done. Stuart Pawson, novelist.