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Reflections of a working writer and reader

 

 

Published novels

“His characters endear themselves to us, and we care what happens to them. The writing is always quirky, never flashy, and . . . he leaves us wanting more of an engaging crew who feel like friends by the end of the book.” Val McDermid, novelist.

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WINGED WITH DEATH (Flambard) – ISBN: Paperback £8.99. The literary novel. Although there is a crime in Winged with Death, it does not fall strictly into the conventions of a genre novel. Set in modern day York and the Montevideo of the seventies, its themes range across time, tango, revolution, abduction and denial.

Reviews of Winged with Death can be found by clicking the link.

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WHITE SKIN MAN (Orion) – ISBN: 0 75284 748 8 (Hardback £17.99; X(Trade Paperback) £10.99 This one is a political novel. It’s the second Stone Lewis novel. It’s about racism, the people who perpetrate it, those who suffer it, and those who stand and watch.

White Skin Man is an incredible book, powerful and absorbing. Its racial theme is disturbing. The horror builds page by page as the reader anticipates what this band of misfits are going to do to their next victims. Baker has done some astonishing work in the development of the characters. First of all, there’s Stone Lewis, who is autistic and learning how to function in a world that he doesn’t quite understand.

“One of the secondary characters, Heartbreak, steals the page every time he’s on it. Even one of the skinheads, Mort, is sympathetically portrayed; although his principles are reprehensible, he cares for his housebound and disabled mother without complaint.

White Skin Man receives my highest recommendation. It hit me hard when I read it, and it’s stayed with me ever since.” Maddy Van Hertbruggen

“John Baker is much admired by his peers and with good reason; he is, quite simply, a wonderful writer.” Julia Wallis-Martin, novelist.

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THE MEANEST FLOOD (Orion) – ISBN: 0 75285 661 8 (Hardback) £16.99; (Trade Paperback) £10.99 – The river Ouse, which runs through York, reached a peak of 17ft 8ins (5.3m) above normal at 0330 GMT on Saturday 4th November 2000.

This is the sixth Sam Turner novel. It’s about magic and talismans and charms and the stuff of dreams. I wanted to write about sleight of hand and escapes and the idea of enchantment and personal illusions.

“I actually fell asleep with only a chapter or so to go and woke up at 2:30am. 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.

“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 pacey thriller that leaves its predecessors standing.” Martin Radcliffe, Time Out.

“I just re-read John Baker’s books..Finished a whole batch of work, and looked for something to re-read, and went through them all chronologically. I love the characters and want them to be my friends.” James Nash, Poet.

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SHOOTING IN THE DARK (Orion) – ISBN: 0 57284-798-8 – £5.99. This is the fifth Sam Turner novel. It’s about being blind and sometimes looking too hard. It’s about not being able to see the wood for the trees and sometimes seeing things that simply could not be there, watching and being watched.

I wanted to write about voyeurism and readers and writers and to discuss the enigma of the different ways we all choose to see the world we share.

“John Baker is a very classy writer. He has got the telling of this story down to an art form. The pieces of the puzzle we are allowed to see are intriguing and pull us into this intelligent novel.

“The villain is seriously bad and creepy, he would give Hanibal Lecter pause for thought. and the hero and his colleagues are real people, when you read about them they do not seem to be fiction in any way. This is way, way above run-of-the-mill crime fiction. Pure Class.” Ottaker’s The Verdict – Issue 2

“I’m currently at chapter 17. I wouldn’t have been that far except I wanted to be early for work today as I have so much to do so I set off early. In Glasgow we have a very tiny underground system which is lovingly known as the ‘Clockwork Orange’. Orange because of the colours of the trains, clockwork because it goes round in a circle. There are less than 20 stops, so as you can see, it’s a dinky little thing. I was so engrossed in the book that, instead of going 4 stops, I decided to stay on and go round the whole system because I didn’t want to stop reading.” Donna Moore, 4_Mystery_Addicts.

“I was drawn in by the complexity of each (character). They are all vividly written. I was concerned for the fate of these decent, hard working people. A really good read.” Daniel Nagrin, the great loner of American dance.

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THE CHINESE GIRL (Orion £5.99) ISBN 075284-373-7 – This is not a Sam Turner novel, but introduces ex-con Stone Lewis. Set in Hull.

The Chinese Girl is a beautifully drawn novel, filled with dark humour and flawed characters that are so real they could be sitting next to you on the bus.” Lucy Smith, Hull Daily Mail.

“This has all the warmth, hope, humour and bloody brilliant writing that I’ve come to expect from John Baker’s books.” Donna Moore, novelist.

“The letters alone are a work of art. This is an amazing crime novel. It tells a terrific story. It keeps you guessing about what happened before the book opened and what will happen after it closes. It deals with a range of social issues, mental illness, racism, drug dealing, gang warfare and always has something insightful to say about each. He tells it like it is and you sense that he was there and lived through it all himself. The author once stated that there are dark shadows imprinted on his soul that’ll never go away. He has imprinted them on this book.” Alex Auswaks, Crimebuff.Com.

“Have you ever found yourself reading a book way into the night, even though your eyes are aching for sleep? I started reading The Chinese Girl and found I could not stop – I simply had to know what had happened to Juliet. If, like me, you’ve never read John Baker before, this is the perfect place to start. An exceptionally brilliant writer.” Kate Mills, Editor, The Mystery & Thriller Club.

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WALKING WITH GHOSTS (Indigo £5.99) ISBN 0575402482 “One of those wonderful books in which the reader is pulled into the story no matter how unwillingly. The characters force you to read on. (Baker is) a novelist who combines a light humour with a viciously sharp penetration into how our minds work.” G. Lock, Shots.

“A really fine book. Splendid writing, very convincing characterization, a plausible crime, and central relationships that really work. Dora is a marvellous character, wonderfully developed.” Michelle Spring, novelist.

“The over-riding force in the book is Dora, the relationship between her and Sam, the unspoken messages that convey to the reader the strength of their love, and the power of the mind, as Dora reflects on her past, and sees truths that had previously eluded her. A terrific book. Highly recommended.” Lizzie Hayes, Editor, Mystery Women Magazine.

“One of Britain’s most talented contemporary crime writers.” Marcel Berlins, The Times.

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KING OF THE STREETS (Indigo £5.99) ISBN 0575402849 “Brings heart, invention and wit to the business of adapting the tough-guy novel to the realities of contemporary Britain.” Ian Ousby, Independent on Sunday.

“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.

“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.

“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.

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DEATH MINUS ZERO (Indigo £5.99) ISBN 0575402873 “Baker has added something new to the crime scene.” Philip Oakes Literary Review.

“John Baker is one of those writers that you know from the first book, if there is any justice in the literary world, will be widely acclaimed by both fans and critics. His writing style draws the reader into the book from the first page and his stories and characters linger in the mind for days after the book is finished. Baker’s writing flows like a river of words making his books hard to put down. Treat yourself to this series, you’ll be glad you did.” Vicky Shultz, Allreaders.com.

“A tough, gritty read in the new modern manner of the British thriller. If you’re into black comedy with a touch of surrealism, then Death Minus Zero will have you chuckling through the length of its two hundred odd pages.” The Irish Times.

“Absorbing and well-written with an exciting finale.” TJ Binyon, London Evening Standard.

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POET IN THE GUTTER (Indigo £5.99) ISBN 0575402857 “Sam Turner is a wonderful creation.” Grace Hammond, Yorkshire Post.

“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’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.

“I just finished The Chinese Girl and I loved it. I’m mad for some of the ways in which he uses words.” Sandra Scoppettone, novelist.