John Barlow's blog

New coverSelf publishing

Posted by John Barlow Wed, July 17, 2013 08:04:24

There was something I didn't quite like about the original cover for FATHER AND SON, so we had another look at it and we decided on a starker, somewhat bolder design. I think this one is a better reflection of the book:

Blog image

John Ray #2Crime fiction

Posted by John Barlow Fri, June 14, 2013 12:36:34

The second crime thriller in the John Ray / LS9 series is now out. I very much like the cover, although in my defence I might say that I didn’t intend for my name to be QUITE so prominent.

Blog image

Nevertheless, the design really captures the mood of the book, and the moors depicted on the cover in fact feature towards the end of the book. [For anyone interested, the image is of the Cow and Calf rocks on Ilkley Moor.]

Something that a number of readers noted in HOPE ROAD, the first book in the series, was that the character of John Ray took an unsuspected turn in the resolution of the novel, and that this was not altogether welcome. FATHER AND SON goes some way towards addressing the question of John’s character in this respect. I think this is one of the most satisfying aspects of writing a series, in that issues can take longer than a single book to resolve.

For foodies, sorry to say there’s no jamón ibérico this time, just a dish of gumbo (which remains uneaten).

Meanwhile, the playlist is: Mahler, the Modern Jazz Quartet, the Gypsy Kings and Bananarama. A mixed bag, then...

Oh, and there’s some death, too.

Great review!Crime fiction

Posted by John Barlow Wed, November 07, 2012 22:56:23

On balance it's probably a good thing for writers not to get too involved with reviews and reviewers. However, on this occasion I can't resist. A full eleven months after my crime thriller HOPE ROAD came out, I saw this marvellous review on 2readornot2read. I'm going to quote it in full. Why not!

Goodreads Summary:

John Ray, son of crime boss Antonio 'Tony' Ray, is the straight one of the family. With a successful business and a lifestyle to match, he wants nothing to do with his father's criminal world. But what does that world want with him?

My thoughts:

John Ray, the youngest son of Crime Boss Antonio Ray, is the "straight one" of the family. He has taken over the family business, Tony Ray's Motors, a car showroom on the back streets of Leeds.

Life seems good for John Ray. He has won the "Auto Trader Used Car Dealership of the Year" Yorkshire Region award. He has a beautiful girlfriend, Denise Danson, who is a Detective Constable at West Yorkshire Police, CID Division.

When a body of a young woman is found in the trunk of a Ford Mondeo belonging to John, with $40,000 in counterfeit monies and his business card, suspicion falls on John Ray until DC Danson becomes his alibi.

Owen Metcalfe (everyone calls him Freddy) is arrested on suspicion of murder after a video surfaces showing him to be the last to see the dead woman. John knows Freddy is not a killer; he's not the type. Now he has to prove it to the police and find the killer before time runs out.

This book was fantastic!! John Barlow has captured the dark side of the world of crime. The characters are three dimensional. Plenty of fast paced, edge of your seat action, and a plot twist or two when you least expect it. I didn't want to put the book down, but when I had to my thoughts drifted back to Hope Road. A wonderful who-done-it!!

This book could be made into a movie that I would go see. Well done John Barlow!! I am looking forward to the next book in this series.

Here's the link.

ISLANDERS - my first YA novelYA fiction

Posted by John Barlow Thu, November 01, 2012 19:33:42

Here's the cover of my new novel, ISLANDERS. I know you shouldn't judge a book by its cover, but in this case please do.

Blog image

ISLANDERS is ready to go, and we already have a bunch of reviews and other features lined up for the launch date, November 16th.

And how's this for an early review! The reviewer, Vicki, is a school librarian. There's no better source of opinion on YA fiction than that. What a great start to the publicity campaign!

Right. I'm off to Madrid, not that this is relevant to anything...

Retro-noirCrime fiction

Posted by John Barlow Sat, May 19, 2012 10:06:40

Here's a new crime novel from me, which is currently available on Amazon:

Blog image


I love the cover. It's by Stuart Bache and is reminiscent of the old Penguin covers. It really captures the light, noir-ish atmosphere of the book. Here's an article I wrote about the book's unusual journey to publication.

And here's the blurb:


Farewell My Lovely meets Californication.

Meet Jack Storm PhD, disgraced ex-college professor and unlicensed PI. Since getting turfed out of Berkeley for violent misconduct, he's turned his brains and his 250-pound frame to solving crimes. Working out of Los Angeles (and the trunk of his 20 year-old Mercedes Benz), Jack has finally found his true place in life: the gutter.

When Jerry Picco goes missing, Jack is called in to help. Picco is the world's greatest 'erotic actor', and his disappearance has come at a difficult time for the diminutive porn star. He's left a heap of debt, a career in nosedive, and a screen partner with plenty reasons to want him gone.

Jack has his own reasons for trying to find him. Apart from anything else, he's one of Jerry's biggest fans. The only clues he's got: a Polaroid of seven little men in the woods, and some story about a princess.

For fans of Carl Hiaasen and Janet Evanovich, What Ever Happened to Jerry Picco? is a romp of a noir from prize-winning author John Barlow.

Like Chocolate for ChocolateReviews

Posted by John Barlow Sat, February 25, 2012 20:37:14

Blog imageThis is the first `chick-lit' book I've ever read. Perhaps it's not chick-lit at all, but whatever it was I enjoyed it. The narrator is a feature writer on a British newspaper. She is also a chocoholic (although she would deny this). The novel is an exploration of how career women juggle the pressures of work, young kids, and husbands who are at best passive partners in the domestic sphere. It is also a slow-burn `marriage-mystery' which develops in a very satisfying way, with several unexpected twists and turns, and a plot involving journalistic scoops, professional intrigue, and, ehm, chocolate (but in a good way, not just eating it...). The author, Alice Castle, was herself a feature writer on the Daily Express, and her description of the working environment of a national newspaper is fascinating. Castle is also clearly a fine cook, and besides a large helping of chocolate, there are a number of other sumptuously drawn foodie moments to get your teeth into. It felt, above all, as if you were wholly immersed in the life of the main character, and that you desperately wanted her to prevail. Does that make it `chick-lit'? I don't think so, because this is also the kind of book that driven, professional (married) men should read.

JAR CITY, by Arnaldur IndridasonReviews

Posted by John Barlow Tue, February 14, 2012 16:56:47

JAR CITY by Icelandic crime writer Arnaldur Indridason is sombre, clever, and extremely absorbing.

It’s a straight police procedural, involving a lead detective (Erlendur) who works on his instincts rather than simply following the obvious clues, and this sometimes frustrates of his colleagues. Like Wallander, he’s not an exciting or glamorous detective, and the whole setting (it rains throughout almost the entire book) is dour and underplayed, which, of course, is pretty much how many murder investigations would be if you described them flat, without verbal tricks or fancy scene-setting.

Indridason brings a very moving kind of humanity to the main character of Erlendur, and although you don’t fall in love with either him or his life (which seems dull and disappointing) you do admire him. The plot itself twists on a number of possible solutions, and there are several of those moments when you *know* the solution, and you’re inevitably wrong.

Despite the sombre mood, and the increasingly unsettling themes, the plot moves fast enough to give the reading experience excitement and urgency.

Kindle edition

I am a Monster PublicistSelf publishing

Posted by John Barlow Sun, February 12, 2012 12:42:40

Blog image

HOPE ROAD has now been out two months as a Kindle novel, although considerably less time on other vendor sites. I finally managed to get it on the Tescos ebook site last week, which means the places where you can now buy it is now as follows, with the Kindle still accounting for most sales: Waterstones Tescos Kobo Apple

Sony B&N Diesel Smashwords W H Smiths Book Dep.

I would have been better to have got the novel listed at all non-Amazon sites and then do the Kindle upload; in that way I could have had something like an official launch date. Many book bloggers are happy to program a mention/interview etc. to coincide with a launch date, and in future I'll try and plan ahead more.

Nevertheless, through my somewhat uncoordinated attempts at being a publicist, I’ve discovered what amazing people book bloggers are. Enthusiastic, generous, dedicated. And they read so much! It makes me embarrassed at the amount I manage to read in an average week.

I started contacting bloggers seriously in the New Year, and six weeks later I have had a pretty decent response. I may have missed some of them, but I've listed here over thirty reviews, guest blogs, interviews and other mentions of the ebook. There are quite a few more coming up, and given that six weeks ago I knew nothing at all about ebook marketing, I’m quite pleased with the exposure the book has had. A massive thank you to all those who were kind enough to let me onto their blogs!


Not the Baseball Pitcher

His Futile Preoccupations

Mike Levitt

Rough Edges

Crime Fiction Lover

Nights & Weekends

Today I Did This For Me


The Rap Sheet

Harrogate/Theakstons Crime Writing Festival (1)

Harrogate/Theakstons Crime Writing Festival (2)

Murder, Mystery and Mayhem

Manga Maniac

2 Read or Not 2 Read

Rita Reviews

Indies Unlimited

Our Little Books


Nigel Bird

Mysterious Musings / /Julia Buckley

Mostly Reviews

Morgan Bailey

I Meant To Read That


Indies Unlimited


Manic Readers

Good Ereader

Mr Bunny Chow Reviews

Night Owls Reviews


Fishing Hideaway

Bill Crider

3D Tablets

Workaday Reads