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Reflections of a working writer and reader



Reviews: 1 Poet in the Gutter

With a few deft strokes Baker paints an intriguing and believable portrait of his hero, leaving the reader wanting to know about Sam and his life in the city of York. It is tightly written in an urgent and individual style. An engrossing read which grips from the first chapter. Robert Beaumont, Yorkshire Evening Press.

Exceedingly cunning, laid-back plot. Genial, fast and funny. Philip Oakes, Literary Review.

Baker is being compared to John Harvey, Mark Timlin and Mike Ripley; a rare acclaim for a first-timer. Mystery Scene.

John Baker is new to this game and he looks as if he is going to be a real discovery. Birmingham Post.

Set in York, Baker’s debut novel is engagingly credible, off the wall, romantic without being sentimental, with a sharp sense of humour. A great cast of characters I look forward to encountering again. Val McDermid, novelist, Manchester Evening News.

Baker’s Poet in the Gutter turns into something quite unexpected. John Baker does not soften any of the real horrors of life in an abusive family, surviving alone on the streets, or fighting drink, degradation and solitude, but he has used them as the basis for an entrancing – and funny – fairy-tale in which all the dragons are slain and the good guys come out on top. Natasha Cooper, novelist, Times Literary Supplement.

A breeze. The Big Issue in the North.

Neatly plotted and engagingly and wittily written. Sam’s next case is something to look forward to. Tim Binyon, Daily Mail.

Assured and entertaining. Sam Turner is a wonderful creation. Grace Hammond, Yorkshire Post.

Rather more humour and a lighter touch than we expected from the catalogue copy. The Poisoned Pen.

The setting works well and Turner is a likeable downbeat bloodhound. John Williams, Mail on Sunday.

Dry and clever, this first novel boasts a fine assortment of peripheral players, with just the right blend of amoral behaviour and a sense of justice. Peter Handel, San Francisco Examiner & Chronicle.

Dry humour, straightforward prose, a deceptively simple plot, and a most interesting soft-boiled detective make this an author to watch. Library Journal.

Baker has invented a story so riveting and a character so savvy and original that we predict a smashing success for this series. Partners’ Picks, Partners & Crime Mystery Booksellers.

I finished the book with a guffaw (one of the best last lines in any book I’ve read) and a slow-to-fade smile born of my satisfaction at having been acquainted with Baker’s cast of characters. An ensemble cast that is deftly introduced here and, with any luck, will return for numerous encore performances. I developed feelings for these characters similar to those I’ve had for the actors in a small, live theatre production. I felt I knew them, I respected them, I believed in who they were, and I would love a curtain call. This book serves as a starting point for what should be a strong series. Russ Isabella, Deadly Pleasures.

A quirky novel that I enjoyed. Tales from a Red Herring.

Poet in the Gutter is an impressive debut, with a distinctive voice, a solid line-up of sympathetic characters with a colourful edge, and a dark humour that would tickle the dead. Jerry Sykes, novelist, A Shot in the Dark.

I thoroughly enjoyed Poet in the Gutter. An enthralling plot full of interesting characters. Mark Herman, film director.

I enjoyed my first Sam Turner mystery very, very much and I encourage those who haven’t met him to seek him out. Sam is a weak man, a complex man, a man with major flaws, who nonetheless (or maybe because of them) won me over completely. And I didn’t once want to whump him on the side of the head. ( A major accomplishment.) This is one of those you-know-who-did-it-but-how-will-it-all-end books. I zipped along and found it thoroughly satisfying. Eileeeeeen from Ohio – Rec.Arts.Mystery.

One of the charms of this British mystery is watching the secondary characters blossom. A first novel and a good job.Alice Racher, Friends of the Park Forest Public Library.

Did I mention that I loved P in the G? Loved the deceptively simple language. Really cared about the characters. Worried about Sam falling into bed with unsuitable women. And is Geordie getting enough vitamins? Veronica Stallwood, novelist.

This is a very difficult book to review, because it is not like most regular mystery books. It is not a whodunit, because we know from the beginning who the bad guy is. What we follow in this book is the thread of why-dunit, how do you catch’em and what will happen next. When I started this book I didn’t expect to finish it. What an error! I read this all the way through as fast as I could. The writing is deceptively simple, while being both gripping and engaging. The characters are not only interesting, they are realistic and lively. This author is British and has written four books published in England. None of which, for some reason, are available in the U.S. Eden Embler, I Love a Mystery Newsletter.

This is the first in the series. And it is an impressive first. If you like crisp writing, well developed characters, a good story, then this is for you. Barbara Franchi, Reviewing the

Baker’s laid-back style sits very well amongst the current crop of the very best that American crime writing has to offer and does not possess any of the typical British stiffness whilst at the same time not compromising his Yorkshire roots. PastryWiz UK.