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CHINESE GIRL, THE
by John Baker
Orion, August 2001
257 pages
5.99 GBP
ISBN: 0752843737


Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Stone Lewis is a tattooed ex-con who has just served an 11 year jail sentence for murder. He's determined to stay on the straight and narrow - with the exception of a score he has to settle. One night he arrives home to find a badly beaten girl on his doorstep. Unwilling to report his discovery to the authorities, he takes her in and looks after her. When Ginny wakes up, she takes his frightening appearance, and even more frightening criminal history, in her stride and asks him to help her find her best friend, Juliet, who has disappeared.

As a big fan of John Baker's Sam Turner books, I thought I would miss Sam, Geordie et al. I did feel a twinge for them at the start, but was soon drawn into Stone Lewis' world. Stone is a knight in tarnished armour. Scarred both on the outside and within, his humour, hope and humanity shine through and he's a wonderful not-so-perfect hero for a not-so-perfect world. The supporting characters are also flawed and troubled - none of them are all bad or all good. As a result they jump off the page as real people.

This is a book about prejudice and appearances. Some people only see what they want to see, some people only show one side of themselves and keep the darker side hidden, others are exactly what they seem. We are told about the missing girl, Juliet, through her letters to Ginny, but they only tell part of the story. As usual, John Baker explores his themes and fits them seamlessly into the central plot and the whole thing is told in a way which is both tender and frightening, lyrical and harsh. The writing reminds me of a really good song, where both words and music stay in your brain after only one hearing. --

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Reviewed by Donna Moore, September 2002

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)


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