“One of Britain’s most talented contemporary crime writers” (The Times)

I have enjoyed reading mysteries for as long as I have been reading, from juvenile series and on to more serious crime fiction, both vintage and modern. Over the years, I have had the pleasure of discovering many authors – the early books of James Lee Burke to Michael Connelly and Dennis Lehane, from Denise Mina (I heard a review of one of her books almost 20 years ago on NPR and as Michael Connelly commented “It took only one book for me to become a fan”) to Ann Cleeves (and not just her Scotland and Vera stories, but her earlier novels.) I had read a few books by Gladys Mitchell, but it was only when I binged on about 20 in a row that I really appreciated her! And, of course, by definition, authors who only started getting published in the 21st century are all new discoveries – two who stand out are Attica Locke and the Australian writer Jane Harper.

This digression is just to put the following comments in context: I recently unpacked and began cataloguing several signed copies of books by the English author John Baker and I picked one to read – “The Chinese Girl” – and found it quite good – how many crime thrillers use a word like “pullulation”? Even the title is more a metaphor for “otherness” than a description of the actual character: the young woman is Vietnamese, who was adopted by a British couple living in Hull and who now lives in Los Angeles. The story is both a violent and rather sweet, with an unforgettable “bucking” Shogun automobile as driven by Stone’s tiny but indomitable aunt. This was a stand-alone novel at the time (Baker wrote a sequel four years later), so now I have to try his Sam Turner detective series.

I am left wondering why I never heard of this writer who has been publishing novels since 1995….

Part of the reason is that his books do not seem to have been published in the US – which creates an even bigger mystery – why not?

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