on 27 February 2003
John Baker must be one of popular fiction's (largely) undiscovered treasures, I've never seen his name on any best-seller lists nor seen any of his books in a prominent place in a book store which on the evidence of Poet in the Gutter is a crying shame.
This, the first in an ongoing series about "accidental" P.I. Sam Turner, starts with what seems at first a simple task of following an adulterous wife which very soon becomes the hunt for a serial killer with the body count mounting by the day.
This is not to say that this book is dark, far from it, John Baker injects a high level of cool humour throughout which keeps the whole thing moving along nicely towards a very satisfying conclusion.
During the course of the novel the Bob Dylan loving Turner recruits the help of several characters who become a kind of middle aged famous five, including one canine member, who I'm sure will serve him well in the following volumes, my particular favourite band member being the ex-homeless Geordie who is given some cracking dialogue reminding us not to take things too seriously.
Baker's laid-back style sits very well amongst the current crop of the very best that American crime writing has to offer and does not possess any of the typical British stiffness whilst at the same time not compromising his Yorkshire roots.
On the whole then this is a great debut to a successful series which would probably make great TV.
on 23 September 2001
I read this book and was amazed. John Baker has created a wonderful PI in Sam Turner. The book is well thought out, and the characters breath with every turn of a page.
Sam becomes a PI almost by accident, and takes to it with gusto.Along the way he manages to put together a group of people to help him out and before he knows it, he has his own agency going.
His first case, tailing a wife to see if she is cheating, soon escalates, as his client is murdered. The plot follows nicely with some twists and turns. And Baker's feel for the characters is only surpassed by his feel for the city it takes place in, York.
I highly recomend this series!