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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

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

LENA'S SECRET WAR Cover
THRILLERS

LENA'S SECRET WAR

BY Fred G. Baker • POSTED ON May 10, 2021

A Cold War novel that features two accidental spies on a daring mission to change the Soviet government.

Set in Northern Europe in 1971, Baker’s epic international spy thriller chronicles the lives of Lena Kristoff, a Soviet academic economist, and Eric Barrenger, an American paleontology student in Sweden. Each ends up embroiled in the Cold War espionage that’s a perfect fit for the setting. Lena dreams of changing her government’s totalitarian system, while younger, more impressionable grad student Eric imagines the life of a spy to be lucrative and thrilling, so he accepts jobs to discreetly courier packages to remote locations. The characters’ paths converge in Leningrad, and they begin a steamy love affair, although the danger increases as the courier jobs become more complex. When a delivery goes wrong, Eric is shot and Lena barely escapes with her life, and as the couple are separated, Lena fears the worst. Before long, she’s surprised by an unexpected pregnancy, and raises Eric’s child with her sister, Katya, and her friends. In 1978, she takes a new secret assignment, assessing a computer model of the Soviet economic structure and smuggling documents for the CIA, which could make her aspirations for a Soviet “turnover to a Western-style economy and democracy” come true. Lena’s mission soon puts her on the run with her young son in tow, and in the novel’s gripping second half, she attempts to outsmart angry Soviet military colonels in a chase across Eastern Europe. Over the course of this book, Baker expertly sets scenes of betrayal, sabotage, and surveillance, all energized by Lena’s steely determination to bring down the Soviet government. The scenes between her and Eric effectively leaven the espionage excitement with passionate romance, but after a showdown at the Austrian border nearly kills Lena, it leads to characters reconsidering their lives. Baker once again shows himself to be a skillful, seasoned writer, as he adroitly demonstrated in his past historical biographies, detective series, and espionage novels.Throughout, he delivers captivating action as the gently simmering plot rolls along, with exacting, atmospheric period details, and crisp character development.

An energetic international drama with an indefatigable heroine.  

Pub Date: May 10, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-94-933622-1

Page count: 511pp

Publisher: Other Voices Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 3, 2021

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

Desert Underworld: A Detective Sanchez/Father Montero Mystery

Murder in an exclusive gymnasium. Counterfeit pharmaceuticals. A kidnapped witness. The Sinaloa cartel again.

Phoenix Assistant DA Clara Alvera calls Detective Lori Sanchez in the middle of the night to report the gruesome murder of her friend—a reporter named Josie Vale. The reporter was onto a story about counterfeit prescription drugs and the powerful Maraxx Pharma Corporation. Sanchez vows to protect the only witness named Lolita, a young gymnast.

As Sanchez builds her case, she learns that members of a local gang are perpetrating murder and trafficking fake pharmaceuticals. The Sinaloa Cartel—Sanchez’s old nemesis—is deeply involved. But how? And why do dead bodies keep turning up to block her investigation?

Sanchez works with her old friend, Father Guillermo Montero, to unravel a complex criminal enterprise that is hidden under the desert. When the cartel kidnaps Lolita, Sanchez must solve the mystery and save her life.

She must enter the desert underworld.

Published: July 21, 2020
ISBN: 978-1-949336-18-4

Einstein's Raven: A Science Fiction Mystery/Adventure

Derek Phillips, a cutting edge programmer at the National Renewable Energy Lab in Golden, is tasked to find out who is hacking into the lab’s secret files on “Harry”—one of the most advanced supercomputers in the world. His job is on the line. “Find the Intruder or seek a new career,” his demanding boss tells him. .

Derek is between a rock and a hard place when he meets a mysterious woman named Raven who is seeking a secret from the past. She is beautiful, and clever, and has serious computer skills. .

But who is she really and why does she turn up in his life just now? .

The answer marks the beginning of an adventure that leads Derek beyond his wildest dreams as Raven reveals she is on a special mission. A mission so important that, should she fail to achieve her goals, futuristic terrorists will uncover one of the best kept secrets of the “Ancients.” A secret so powerful that in the wrong hands it could destroy the very nature of time itself.

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

Life, Death, And Espionage by Paul *******: How the *** Makes Money to Fund Black Operations

Murder in an exclusive gymnasium. Counterfeit pharmaceuticals. A kidnapped witness. The Sinaloa cartel again.

Phoenix Assistant DA Clara Alvera calls Detective Lori Sanchez in the middle of the night to report the gruesome murder of her friend—a reporter named Josie Vale. The reporter was onto a story about counterfeit prescription drugs and the powerful Maraxx Pharma Corporation. Sanchez vows to protect the only witness named Lolita, a young gymnast.

As Sanchez builds her case, she learns that members of a local gang are perpetrating murder and trafficking fake pharmaceuticals. The Sinaloa Cartel—Sanchez’s old nemesis—is deeply involved. But how? And why do dead bodies keep turning up to block her investigation?

Sanchez works with her old friend, Father Guillermo Montero, to unravel a complex criminal enterprise that is hidden under the desert. When the cartel kidnaps Lolita, Sanchez must solve the mystery and save her life.

She must enter the desert underworld.

Published: Oct. 15, 2020
ISBN: 978-1-949336-20-7

The Final Wave

The year that the final wave struck mankind like a viral tsunami. COVID 19 type 2 has already decimated countries around the world, killing millions. But now the next variant arrives with a vengeance.

Lieutenant Commander Logan Gordon already has his hands full fighting against the ruthless gangs that rule his native Chicago. He leads a special team of Chicago North Force fighters on missions against the Antifa Army that holds half the city and the Central Caliphate the controls the other half.

His old boss, Admiral Cotes, tells him he is detailed to a secret special mission that might just save the nation from the scourge of a new type of disease.

He and Cotes must escort two doctors and a new vaccine that can save the world to San Diego. In five days. They will have to fight their way through two thousand miles of wild lawless country to make the delivery, despite the chaotic dystopian-like landscape that now defines much of the United States.

What can possibly go wrong? And that’s just the part of the mission that Cotes tells Logan about up front.

They must also venture to Taiwan to help stave off the massive invasion of the island by the mainland Communists as war erupts around the world.

Urban warfare, Road Warrior-like fighting, nuclear weapons, asymmetrical attacks on the US, strange new technology, and rogue scientists. Logan must face them all in this strange new world to complete his mission.

Published: June 17, 2021
ISBN: ? 978-1949336245

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