Books are food for my soul! Pull up a beach chair and stick your toes in the sand as the Jersey surf rolls in and out, now open your book and let your imagination take you away.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Hope Road by John Barlow

Hope Road by John Barlow
Published By: Storm Books
Release Date: December 13, 2011
Format: 288 pages / Kindle - 456 KB / Nook - 788 KB
Genre: Crime Mystery / Murder Mystery Suspense Thrillers / Contemporary Fiction

About The Author:

John Barlow's prize-winning fiction and non-fiction has been published by HarperCollins/William Morrow, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 4th Estate and various others in the UK, US, Australia, Russia, Italy, Germany, Spain and Poland.

His current project is the LS9 crime series. Set in the north of England, it follows the life of John Ray, the half-Spanish son of crime boss Antonio 'Tony' Ray. The series will eventually comprise nine novels.

John was born in West Yorkshire, England, in 1967. He worked as a musician before studying English Literature at Cambridge University and language acquisition at Hull University. After teaching English for several years, he moved to Spain to write full-time, and has been there ever since. He is married to Susana, with whom he has two sons. They currently live in the Galician city of A Coruna.

Apart from writing fiction, he also works as a ghost writer and journalist. He has written for the Washington Post,, Penthouse, Departures Magazine and The Big Issue, and he is currently a feature writer for the award-winning food magazine Spain Gourmetour.

John's first published work, a novella, won the Paris Review's prestigious Discovery (Plimpton) Prize in 2002. He went on to publish a collection of novellas, Eating Mammals, the novel Intoxicated, set in the late nineteenth century, and Everything But The Squeal, a food-travelogue about Spain. He then published the off-beat noir novel What Ever Happened To Jerry Picco? under the pseudonym Joe Flores, before embarking on the LS9 series, which is scheduled to take him a decade to complete.

John has also worked with the conceptual artists goldin+enneby on their ACEPHALE project, which has so far taken him to Nassau, Bergamo, Oslo and London, and into the company of Bahamian off-shore bankers, defamation lawyers, prize-winning artists, and Martina Navratilova. His writing for the project has been published variously in English, Italian, Spanish, Swedish and Portuguese, and has featured at numerous art shows/galleries in the UK, the US, Canada, Brazil, Spain, Sweden, Norway and Italy. The novel Headless, based on the project, is scheduled for release in 2012.



Disclaimer: I received a Kindle edition of the book from the author in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book event.

Virtual Book Event: On Saturday, May 5, 2012, author John Barlow participated in a virtual book event with an Author Interview on Jersey Girl Book Reviews.

Book Description:

Hope Road: a psychological mystery - you can't change your past. But what about your future?

John Ray, some 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?

A young prostitute is found dead in John's car, and Freddy Metcalfe, his best friend and employee, is framed for her death. Freddy denies everything but it's an open and shut case: he's going down for murder. John sets out to find the real killer.

But things get complicated. A stash of counterfeit money was also found in John's car, and the police seem more interested in that than in the dead girl. Then Lanny Bride turns up; one of the north's most ruthless criminals (and an old friend of the Ray family), Lanny is desperate to know who killed the girl. But why? Meanwhile, Freddy is too scared to talk to anyone, even his lawyer.

John's police detective girlfriend, Denise Danson, has been warned off the case by her boss. But she doesn't believe Freddy is guilty, and secretly helps John look for the murderer. The problem, though, is that uncovering the shocking truth about the girl's death will force John to confront his own criminal past and risk destroying his future, as well as losing the only woman he's ever loved.

A novel set in Leeds, this is the first crime-mystery in the LS9 series.

My Book Review:

John Ray never wanted anything to do with his father's criminal activity, and education was his ticket out of that lifestyle. After graduating from Cambridge and going abroad to Spain, John worked as a corporate accountant for two firms in London and Manchester for fifteen years. Two years ago, all that changed when his older brother Joe was gunned down in a gangland murder, and he found himself back in the Yorkshire town of Leeds, bound and determined to turn the family secondhand automobile dealership into a respectable business. He rebuilt the dealership with a young family friend, Owen "Freddy" Metcalfe, and was reaping the benefits of success, when Freddy is accused of murdering a young prostitute in one of John's cars, with counterfeit money found in the spare tire. John is determined to prove that Freddy is innocent, and with the help of his police detective girlfriend, Denise Danson, he becomes a pseudo-crime investigator, while at the same time dodging the stigma of his crime family's past. Can John prove that Freddy is innocent .... or does his own criminal past come back to haunt him?

Hope Road is an intriguing fast-paced British crime thriller that will engage the reader to join in the murder investigation. The storyline is well written and is multi-layered with complex subplots like the underworld crime world, counterfeiting, money laundering, drugs, sex, murder and betrayal. The author weaves a story that is filled with many thrilling twists and turns, it's dizzying pace keeps the reader turning the pages in order to find out what happens next, and engages the reader to figure out the identity of the real killer. The characters are realistic, complex and down right fascinating, each character provides the story with depth and makes it that much more compelling. I loved John Ray, the author provides the reader with a main character that is complex and like a puzzle that engages them to figure out who and what this man really is all about. The attention to detail is fabulous, as an American reading a British novel, I found the British language, the description of the area (Leeds, Yorkshire, etc), and the British criminal police procedure of investigation very interesting. I thought I would have a hard time getting through the story since I am not used to reading a British novel, but I found that the British terminology was easy to figure out, and actually it was a really fascinating read. As a murder mystery suspense thriller fan, I was pleasantly surprised with this British crime thriller, the suspense, intrigue and surprise ending has made me a new John Barlow fan.

Hope Road is the first novel in the LS9 crime series, which will be comprised of nine novels, and will take the author a decade to complete. The first installment in this series set the bar for what is to come down the road, and I look forward to reading the rest of the novels. Crime thriller fans, this novel is a must read. Whether you're into American or British style of writing, this novel is worth looking into, and chances are the rest of the novels in the series will prove to be just as good a read as this one was!



  1. LOOKS GREAT! we Brits have always produced fine crime writers, and I'm looking forward to this one. Never heard of a mystery set in Leeds, so this should be interesting...

    Tony Armstrong

    1. Hi Tony! Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment. I really was pleasantly surprised with this novel, I'm going to have to check out other British crime writers. I hope you get the chance to read Hope Road! :)

  2. Hi Kathleen, and thanks for your kind words.

    Tony, Kate Atkinson's latest (Started Early, Took My Dog) is set in Leeds. There are very few others, considering that Leeds is a big metropolitan city. One of the Leeds detectives who helped me with research said it was a 'great place for crime', by which he meant the crime was always interesting!

    Best wishes, John Barlow

    1. Hi John!

      Thank you for the opportunity to read, review and host the virtual book event for Hope Road. I look forward to reading the other books in the LS9 crime series. :)