How the Spen Valley inspired Batley author's new crime thriller

Batley born author John BarlowBatley born author John Barlow
Batley born author John Barlow
A Batley author has released his new book - a crime thriller set in the Spen Valley.

John Barlow who was born in Batley in 1967 and grew up in Gomersal, has published eight novels in his writing career, most of which are set in West Yorkshire.

His new book, Right to Kill, was published by HQ/HarperCollins last month. It is part of a new series featuring half-Sicilian detective Joe Romano.

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John said he began the book partly because he wanted to write something based very closely on the town where he grew up.

The cover of Right to Kill, by John BarlowThe cover of Right to Kill, by John Barlow
The cover of Right to Kill, by John Barlow

All the places featured in the novel are real. Settings include Oakwell Park, Cleckheaton Library, various pubs, Metcalfe’s butchers and the railway bridge behind Tesco.

The plot revolves around murder, but also tries to explore the current post-Brexit atmosphere of northern England.

Reviews have described it as fast-paced, with plenty of twists as it works towards an explosive ending.

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John, a former pupil at Whitcliffe Mount School, was a contemporary of best-selling novelist Wendy Holden.

Both were students of Vanda Symons, one of the school’s most influential and charismatic teachers.

John went on to study at Cambridge University before beginning a career as a lecturer at York University.

But in 2004 he moved to Spain, where he has remained since then. He has two sons and lives with his partner in the Galician city of A Coruña.

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He works as a translator and writer. His first book, Eating Mammals, a collection of three novellas set in 19th century Yorkshire, won the prestigious Paris Review Discovery Prize in New York.

His second book, the historical novel Intoxicated, was set in Gomersal and Cleckheaton.

He has continued to write fiction about West Yorkshire, including the LS9 series, three crime novels featuring Leeds-based second-hand car salesman and amateur sleuth John Ray.