Created by John Baker
According to his creator, John Baker, “SAM TURNER is a world weary British PI working out of York, England. He’s a loner, still looking for THE woman, though he’s now way over his sell-by-date. He’s got a head full of Bob Dylan and old-fashioned ideas about justice and compassion. Pet hates are the cops and the government.”
He’s also a bit of a loser.
When we first meet up with him, in 1996’s Poet in the Gutter, he’s broke, just recently off the booze and yet another failed marriage, and with no real prospects in the near future for any great improvment in his life. He more or less becomes a private detective by accident. With his motley crew of assistants, which includes a snooker hall owner, an elderly spinster and a teenage runaway, Sam probes behind the respectable facade of a York the numerous tourists seldom see.
And so it goes, in this solid series of thrillers, most of them named after — appropriately enough — a snippet or line from a Bob Dylan song.
John Baker, like Sam Turner, lives in York. “It’s a city I know,” Baker explains. “After a spell in Scandinavia we came to live in York around 1980. Reluctantly on my part, as it seemed like coming to live in a fairground. The centre of the city is always packed with tourists, and a new hotel and a new museum seem to open every week. But after a time it struck me that there are two cities: the public one that everyone sees, and a hidden one that is in its turn divided between rich and poor. A lot of cash is spent every year making sure that the old city walls are teeming with daffodils, but there are other, residential, parts of the city where the only things that grow are neglect and corruption. It seemed to me that that would make a good setting for a series of contemporary crime novels. A city of contrasts. A city with a smile on its face, but with fear in its guts. That’s York.”
Baker is a member of a British crime writers group called Murder Squad, which also includes Cath Staincliffe (Sal Kilkenny), Stuart Pawson, Martin Edwards (Harry Devlin), Chaz Brenchley, Margaret Murphy and Ann Cleeves.
- “Once again, Baker has combined an eccentric but endearing cast of characters with a truly creepy villain and produced an unputdownable book. Despite multiple plotlines and multiple points of view, Baker never loses control of the story – the pacing is excellent and there’s just the right mix of humour and compassion, with a good helping of action and suspense. Another excellent entry in an excellent series.”
—MysInDepth‘s Shauna Scott on Walking With Ghosts
- Poet in the Gutter (1996) | Buy this book | Kindle it!
- Death Minus Zero (1997) | Buy this book
- King of the Streets (1998) | Buy this book
- Walking With Ghosts (1999) | Buy this book
- Shooting in the Dark (2001) | Buy this book
- The Meanest Flood (2003) | Buy this book
- John Baker’s Web Page
- How Does It Feel? Part Two
Private eye titles lifted from Bob Dylan lyrics