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Fred G. Baker

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Fred G. Baker is a hydrologist, historian, and writer living in Colorado. He has B.S. and M.S. degrees from the University of Wisconsin – Madison, and M.S and Ph.D. degrees from University of Colorado – Boulder, the later in Geology. He worked as an environmental consultant for many years and has traveled widely. He is the author of An Imperfect Crime, Desert Sanctuary, Zona: The Forbidden Land, The Black Freighter, and the Modern Pirate Series of short and long stories. He is also the author of nonfiction works such as Growing Up Wisconsin, The Life and Times of Con James Baker of Des Moines, Chicago, and Wisconsin, The Light from a Thousand Campfires (with Hannah Pavlik), and other nonfiction works.

DESERT SANCTUARY Cover
MYSTERY & CRIME

DESERT SANCTUARY

BY Fred G. Baker • POSTED ON May 17, 2019

A shootout with gang members results in an unexpected outcome and a lot of trouble for a young Arizona detective in this sequel.

Phoenix detective Lori Sanchez, “sweating like a porker in the heat of the evening,” doesn’t think there’s enough backup for the drug bust set up by Capt. Ronald Gurvy of the South Metro Gang Unit. Sanchez’s concerns increase when Roberto “Criatura” Gomez, the criminals’ “top guy,” shows up with a heavily armed posse for a minor drug deal. After all hellfire breaks lose, Gurvy chases Gomez into a junkyard. Sanchez, in delayed pursuit in the darkness, trips over a downed Gurvy. Both he and Gomez are dead. Ballistics reports show the bullets that killed each man match. “They were both shot by the same gun—the same shooter,” says Jeff Bordou, Sanchez’s partner. After the gunfight, Sanchez and Bordou can’t locate their snitch, Eduardo, for questioning, and her apartment is ransacked. The thieves stole not much of value, but they apparently hid something in her apartment—the gun that killed Gurvy and Gomez. When the cops find and ID the weapon, suspicion falls on Sanchez, who relies on her dear friend Father Guillermo Montero for comfort and counseling. He knows Father Juan “John” Ortega, a local priest whose church grounds offer asylum for two dozen refugees from El Salvador and one newcomer, a local man who says he needs protection but may have gangland ties. Baker’s (An Imperfect Crime, 2018, etc.) images are rich, as when he describes Arizona’s deserts, casinos, or even a precinct secretary’s desk—“one of those old steel ones in the shade of battleship gray. It, like Margaret, was formidable.” The book’s pacing is superb, starting out strong with the gunfight, retreating a bit, then bringing in more firepower. Timeliness of content stands out, as Father John offers a sanctuary for undocumented immigrants, who are subjected to violence. The series gets bonus points for its ethnic lead characters: a strong female cop and a sympathetic priest who share “similar interests and a love for Mexican beers and good food.”

A resonant, character-driven mystery that proves a worthy series entry; recommended.

Pub Date: May 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-949336-12-2

Page count: 286pp

Publisher: Other Voices Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 16, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

THE BLACK FREIGHTER Cover
THRILLERS

THE BLACK FREIGHTER

BY Fred G. Baker • POSTED ON

In Baker’s (Desert Sanctuary, 2019, etc.) thriller, a spy attempts to thwart a coup in a Caribbean nation.

Posing as a journalist, American secret agent Robert Wilson embarks on an assignment in Grenada. His mission, which he has only one week to accomplish, is to stop a plot to upend the national election and overthrow the government. Wilson doesn’t know who’s behind it, nor how or exactly when it’s supposed to happen. Baker masterfully offers readers a number of possible villains as the twisty plot cast suspicion upon one character after another. High on the list of culprits are the governments of China and Russia, which have separately posted people on the island for reasons that aren’t immediately clear. Then operatives from Venezuela and Cuba get into the mix, and Wilson meets a Venezuelan woman named Tori Vargas. She soon cozies up to him, and the spy can’t decide if she’s really an unwilling pawn of the Venezuelan government, as she claims. Baker deftly increases the time pressure by making each chapter title a consecutive day of the week. Throughout the book, Wilson is fixated on a black freighter, the Shanghai Maiden, moored just a half-mile offshore, which has suspicious-looking containers on its deck. The ship effectively becomes a character all its own, taunting the protagonist to uncover what, if anything, it has to do with the revolutionary plot. Early chapters unwind slowly as Wilson bolsters his cover as a journalist, but from there, the pacing escalates in a breathless manner. Also, everything happens in real time, and only on the island, which makes the suspenseful plot easy to follow. Baker’s fluid, cinematic prose style makes reading the novel feel like watching an entertaining movie—and, indeed, the action seems tailor-made for the big screen.

A tightly written treat for spy-novel fans.

Pub Date:

ISBN: 978-1-949336-14-6

Page count: 204pp

Publisher: Other Voices Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 21, 2019

ADDITIONAL WORKS AVAILABLE

An Imperfect Crime: A Detective Sanchez/Father Montero Mystery

A perfect crime leads to a perfect tragedy . . .When a man is executed for a murder he did not commit, Detective Lori Sanchez of the Phoenix Police Department decides to find out what went wrong. She thinks the crime scene was too clean, too flawless. It had to be a set up. The convicted man’s priest, Father Montero, agrees. They team up to search for the key witness who didn’t show up at trial. Where did he and his elusive girlfriend go? A complex set of interwoven crimes involving guns, drugs, and sex drive the unlikely duo to follow the evidence—wherever it leads.Part Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and part Dirty Harry, the story twists and turns as Detective Sanchez and Father Montero keep you guessing.
Published: Jan. 25, 2018
ISBN: 978-0-9996684-0-5

Growing Up Wisconsin: Remembrances of the American Midwest

Eight year-old Fred gives up everything he has ever known when his family moves from Chicago to a dairy farm in Wisconsin. Culture shock ensues.When his father retires early, young Fred is forced to leave the ice cream shops, elevated trains, and bustling streets of suburban Chicago and move to a small farm in southwest Wisconsin. It is the beginning of a new life filled with adventure. There is a snake den under the back porch and the kitchen floor is covered with dead insects. There are snapping turtles to catch and farm animals to play with. There is also work to be done. Dad’s vision of being a gentleman farmer involves having his two sons help with milking the cows, taking care of the chickens, fixing fences, and shoveling snow off the driveway in addition to attending school. And the Wisconsin summers are hot and humid, the winters long and bitterly cold.This is the story of how one family of four manages the transition from Chicago to rural Wisconsin in the late 1950s to 1960s. The story unfolds in a series of vignettes seen through Fred’s eyes. The experiences will leave a permanent impression on Fred. Listening to the colorful characters in Richland Center and Yuba, exploring the farm on horseback, rounding up stray cattle, cooling off at the swimming hole on the Pine River, catching fireflies, and stargazing on clear summer nights—these are memories that last a lifetime.
Published: Oct. 16, 2013
ISBN: 978-0-61590-602-7

ZONA: The Forbidden Land

A lost expedition. A mysterious woman. Rumors of exotic and deadly animals. A Russian spy. An unexplored region of Siberia. Direwolves. All these elements confront Dr. Grant Taylor when he is summoned to Saint Petersburg, Russia, to settle the estate of his explorer uncle, Randall Taylor, who has gone missing in Zona, a region of Siberia that doesn’t officially exist. Drawn into intrigue by his green-eyed lover, Grant finds himself on a recovery expedition to search for his uncle in a land of unknown dangers with people he cannot trust. Part adventure thriller, part speculative fiction, Zona takes the reader on a wild ride through a complex story featuring proven warriors, passionate women, and uncommon heroes. It combines the mystery of The Historian, the wonder of Jurassic Park, and the adventure of Journey to the Center of the Earth.
Published: July 30, 2018
ISBN: 978-0-9996684-4-3