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Reflections of a working writer and reader



Reviews: 6 The Meanest Flood

I actually fell asleep with only a chapter or so to go and woke up at 2:30 am. Couldn’t get back to sleep because I hadn’t finished the book, so I went into my office and did so.
Everyone should be jealous that I’ve read it already. Barbara Franchi, Reviewing the Evidence.

For once, I agree with the critics in the ‘heavies’…. John Baker is one of Britain’s most talented crime-writers. This latest in the Sam Turner series is a ‘can’t put it downer’, though I tried to ration myself to make it last longer. The writing has wit and humour, in spite of the dark shadow of an obsessive killer – and there is some intriguing homespun philosophy in dialogue between Sam and two of his colleagues.
Altogether an exciting and satisfactory read – not a ‘whodunit’, for we know the ‘perp’ from the start, but all the more believable for that.
A jolly good read and highly recommended. Bernard Knight, Tangled Web.

A very elegant book. Barbara Franchi, Reviewing the Evidence.

All authors are looking for the novel that’s going to propel them into the first division. With Ian Rankin it was Black and Blue, and with John Baker it could well be The Meanest Flood. In this sixth Sam Turner novel, Baker turns up the heat, producing an enjoyably pacy thriller that leaves its predecessors standing. Martin Radcliffe, Time Out.

It is always impressive to see a talented writer continue to grow through his or her books. Baker’s writing development is apparent as one compares his first novel, POET IN THE GUTTER, with his latest, THE MEANEST FLOOD. His characters have gained more depth, while remaining interesting and individualistic, and his actual writing style is tighter and the passages flow better. Baker has the rare ability to create a story and characters that continue to exist once the book is finished.
THE MEANEST FLOOD is the most introspective mystery of the series. As the killer tracks down each of Turner’s past loves, Sam relives the feelings and emotions of his previous life. Turner has had a string of bad relationships and marriages, all of which ended due to him, at least in his mind. By remembering his former lovers, Turner reevaluates his past and his present. Does he want his current relationship to work out? Can he accept the man he once was? Where does he draw the line on his guilt for past mistakes? As Turner completes his soul searching, one can only empathize.
THE MEANEST FLOOD is a strong addition to the Sam Turner series. This book satisfies the majority of reading tastes. It has interesting characters, a strong plot line, some violence but nothing over the top and has the ability to keep one interested. THE MEANEST FLOOD is a must read! Sarah Dudley, Reviewing The Evidence.

This is a taut story, well told, and it diverted me completely for a few blissful hours. Sam Turner is strong, believable and mostly likeable. Even his faults tend to fall into the category of eccentricities. This is a great read, and it confirms John Baker in his position as one of the best modern-day writers. Mike Jecks, novelist, in Shots Magazine.

It is a mystery why John Baker isn’t better known, because his thoughtful, absorbing novels featuring the private detective Sam Turner are several cuts above many best-selling titles. Sam’s personality, flawed as it is, makes him an attractive hero, and the witty dialogue and sharp characterisation enliven this first-rate thriller. Susanna Yager, Sunday Telegraph.

How the four main characters all end up together in a totally believable way is what lifts John Baker from an ordinary author to someone with a real future. Actually there is more than just the story. The characterisation – even in the side characters – is also very believable. Set against the rising waters of the River Ouse in York – with side trips to Nottingham and Oslo – The Meanest Flood is written with compassion, wit and almost diabolical cleverness. Frank Elson, Bolton Evening News,

This is an accomplished thriller with a fast-moving plot, sympathetic central character and strong sense of place – and, more unusually, a real feeling of redemption and renewal at the end of the story. Good Book Guide.

Blending the traditions of the private eye story with the serial killer thriller, Baker gives us a fast-paced and engaging read. But it is the characters and their voices; quirky, fallible, confused and trying their best to tread an honourable path, who bring the brightest pleasure. Cath Staincliffe, Manchester Evening News.

The Sam Turner series just gets better and better. As in the previous five books, the characterisation is wonderful. Sam and his friends and colleagues have grown so much since the first book in the series. The relationships in this book are special – friendship, loyalty, honesty and trust really matter in a world which can be cold and unfeeling. John Baker writes with great skill and sensitivity. Chills and warmth go hand in hand as the tension is lightened by welcome touches of humour. This is a series with heart and soul, which has the ability to stay in my mind long after I’ve finished reading and which makes me glad I’m a crime fiction fan. Donna Moore, Mystery Women.

In the end I couldn’t stop reading. There are some scenes which will stay with me. Reuben having the breakdown while he’s doing the milk delivery. That’s true and brilliantly written. It’s the kindness which is so impressive – that care which holds the group together. Nobody else writes about kindness much. Ann Cleeves, novelist.

The best entry yet in a unique series. Baker’s increasingly well-realised characters communicate through an entertaining and convincing mixture of philosophy, banter and mutual incomprehension.
While some are trying to control their emotions, others are trying to lose control, but with all of them, it’s the pains and consolations of the human heart that determine their actions. Mat Coward, Morning Star.

Baker has a talent for creating attractive characters. For all his jagged edges, Sam is a masterpiece. I was particularly taken, too, by Ruben, who, to my mind at least, shares some qualities with another of Baker’s people, Stone Lewis. There are some very flawed personalities in this tale but the author always provides reasons for their behaviour, the mix seasoned with a goodly portion of compassion. Invariably, too, Baker instills a certain amount of wry humour into the story but, overall, the narrative plumbs some very dark and unpleasant crevices of human nature including some heartbreaking glimpses into the minds of the psychologically disturbed.
Despite THE MEANEST FLOOD being part of a series, it holds up well as a stand alone. If readers haven’t before come across this writer’s truly addictive work, they could do far worse than to begin here. Denise Pickles,