Joe Barley

Created by Eric Wright


JOE BARLEY is a part-time professor teaching English literature at Hambleton, a small community college in Toronto, while also occasionally moonlighting as a “watcher” by a local security company. Subplots involving the college and his sometimes-messy personal life with longtime partner Carole crop up frequently in this smart, light-hearted trilogy. The series debut, The Kidnapping of Rosie Dawn (2000). won the Arthur Ellis Award for Best Novel.

By his second appearance, The Hemingway Caper (2003), the always opinionated Joe seemed to be taking the P.I. gig a bit more seriously. He’s snooping around, working the cheat beat, collecting photographic evidence of adultery for suspicious clients and the like, when he stumbles upon the story of a missing Hemingway manuscript. Toronto (World class, boys, world class!) has always taken an inordinate amount of pride in remembering Hemingway’s brief stint as a reporter for The Toronto Star (the love wasn’t mutual),but now it looks like Papamay have also left behind an entire book-length manuscript.

Joe may be taking his sidegig a bit more seriously in this outing, but it also makes for a fine excuse for him (and Wright, the real-life English professor) to indulge in some spot-on Papa parodies, and to poke more than a few holes in the Self-Inflated Hemingway Gasbag.


Eric Wright was born in England but immigrated to Canada as a young man and became one their most acclaimed and loved crime writers, best known for the excellent (but definitely non-hard-boiled) police procedurals about Toronto cop Charlie Salter. A professor of English at Ryerson Polytechnic University, Toronto, he also wrote two books about private eye Lucy Trimble, a middle-aged librarian who inherits a Toronto detective agency. In the fall of 2015 Wright was notified that he had been selected for the Crime Writers of Canada Grand Master Award, which was awarded posthumously in May 2016.


  • “Eric Wright has always been the kind of writer whose art conceals art. The things he does well he does so well you hardly notice them, and Kidnapping of Rosie Dawn leaves the reader with a sense of effortless ease. Its witty, intelligent, elegantly shaped, beautifully paced, and every page is generously sown with pleasures of phrase and insight. Read and enjoy!”
    –Reginald Hill on The Kidnapping of Rosie Dawn
  • “Joe Barley is Wright’s best creation since Charlie Salter and, never mind Hemingway and his papers, Wright himself is a Canadian treasure.”
    — London Free Press on The Hemingway Caper
  • “Reveals Wright as a writer who’s growing funnier with the years … in parts of A Likely Story, the laughs, transcending mere chuckles, belong to the out-loud category … he writes his way around Hambleton’s campus politics in such nimble fashion that the reader can’t be sure where reality leaves off and satire picks up … Wright produces creeping suspense from among this skullduggery, but perhaps best of all, he generates more than the usual level of comic entertainment.”
    ― The Toronto Star on A Likely Story



Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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