John Barber


John Barber was born in London at the height of the UK Post War baby boom. The Education Act of 1944 saw great changes in the way the nation was taught; the main one being that all children stayed at school until the age of 15 (later increased to 16). For the first time working class children were able to reach higher levels of academic study and the opportunity to gain further educational qualifications at University.

This explosion in education brought forth a new aspirational middle class; others remained true to their working class roots. The author belongs somewhere between the two. Many of the author’s main characters have their genesis in this educational revolution. Their dialogue though idiosyncratic can normally be understood but like all working class speech it is liberally sprinkled with strange boyhood phrases and a passing nod to cockney rhyming slang.

John Barber’s novels are set in fictional English towns where sexual intrigue and political in-fighting is rife beneath a pleasant, small town veneer of respectability.
They fall within the cozy, traditional British detective sections of mystery fiction.

He has been writing professionally since 1996 when he began to contribute articles to magazines on social and local history. His first published book in 2002 was a non-fiction work entitled The Camden Town Murder which investigated a famous murder mystery of 1907 and names the killer. This is still available in softback and as an ebook, although not available from Smashwords

John Barber had careers in Advertising, International Banking and the Wine Industry before becoming Town Centre Manager in his home town of Hertford. He is now retired and lives with his wife and two cats on an island in the middle of Hertford and spends his time between local community projects and writing further novels.

Smashwords Interview

Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in Camden Town North London. It was then a typically working class area where doors could be left open, you knew all your neighbours and shopkeepers by their first names. My father was a true cockney and my mothers family came from Chiswick, West London and were involved in the care of horses. I was born at the beginning of the post WW2 baby boom and for many of us it was the first time any member of the family had gone to university and with the passing of the 1944 Education Act, stayed on to study into the sixth form. I still consider myself a working class boy despite my education and exposure to all kinds of literature and other academic disciplines. As a consequence at least one character in my novels is based upon this working class but educated background and it manifests itself in speech patterns and attitudes towards the social welfare professions. It is a kind of inverted snobbery. I find that some readers find this confusing and hard to understand and have mentioned that there are sometimes too many English colloquialisms - possibly true but this is how working class educated people often speak. Its a kind of hybrid language of local slang, cockney rhyming slang and more than a passing use of quotations from famous books. My detectives would rather give a local villain a clip round the ear than refer him to a probation officer. They resent the new ways, preferring the old fashioned way of settling disputes with a punch up round the back of the bicycle shed along with the secret cigarette smokers.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I have had a lot of articles published in mainstream magazines and newspapers. I thought that this experience would help me through the process of attracting the interest of publishers and then agents. I was wrong. It is a long and can be a demoralising process, the rejection slips just kept coming. However back in 2001 maybe earlier the concept of ebooks was to excuse the pun, quite novel. I had written a dark comedy based on my life in a small town called A Little Local Affair. I sent it to a ebook publishing company called I was the only UK author on their books and one of the partners had lived in the same part of North London as myself. The book was published and sold quite well. Then tragically the other partner died in a canoeing accident and the surviving one found the work load too much so the company folded. However I realised the potential of ebooks and the painstaking and often fruitless pursuit of an agent or publisher. My full time job as Town Centre Manager took over my life and my writing took a back seat. However I stabbed away at the keyboard and started to write again in my free time as a way of releasing the stress of the job. Based on my knowledge of the industry it was an easy decision to make to prefer the indie route. Although you may get published you still have to work at your craft and at marketing so it is not as easy as it might seem if you wish to sell plenty of copies.
Read more of this interview.

Where to find John Barber online


Inspector Winwood Mysteries
Colours of the Underground
Price: $2.99 $1.20 USD. (60% off until May 31!)
The Cricket Club Murders
Price: $2.99 $1.20 USD. (60% off until May 31!)
Seven Days in May
Price: $2.99 $1.20 USD. (60% off until May 31!)
The Russian Doll
Price: $2.99 $1.20 USD. (60% off until May 31!)
Murder at the Fleetwood
Price: $2.99 $1.20 USD. (60% off until May 31!)
The Book of L:ife
Price: $2.99 $1.20 USD. (60% off until May 31!)
The Fordhamton Trilogy
Return to Fordhamton
Price: $2.99 $1.20 USD. (60% off until May 31!)
The Last Resort
Price: $2.99 $1.20 USD. (60% off until May 31!)
The Fordhamton Trilogy
Price: $4.99 $2.00 USD. (60% off until May 31!)


John Barleycorn Must Die
Series: Inspector Winwood Mysteries. Price: $2.99 $1.20 USD. (60% off until May 31!) Words: 60,310. Language: English. Published: January 24, 2020. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Traditional British, Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Supernatural
MI5 request that DCI Steve Winwood finds a missing secret agent. The driver of a car burned in an explosion is identified as Roger Chapman, thought to be the agent in question. A Chinese businessman reports a property scam fronted by Chapman. Winwood encounters the mysterious Men In Black and finally discovers who and what the Underground represent and the terrible secret they are hiding.
The Mysterious Death of Sarah Stout
Price: $2.99 $1.20 USD. (60% off until May 31!) Words: 38,060. Language: British English. Published: November 1, 2018. Categories: Nonfiction » True Crime » Murder, Nonfiction » History » Modern / 17th Century
Murder, Suicide or Accident? What really happened to Sarah Stout on the night of Monday 13th March 1699? One thing is known; she was discovered drowned in the River Lea, Hertford the following morning. Other facts surrounding her disappearance and discovery are shrouded in mystery and local gossip. What is the truth? This book with trial notes will help you decide who was really guilty.
The Naked Cellist
Series: Inspector Winwood Mysteries. Price: $2.99 $1.20 USD. (60% off until May 31!) Words: 55,580. Language: British English. Published: January 21, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Traditional British, Fiction » Humor & comedy » Satire
What could possibly go wrong at an Arts Festival? It is not long before the first body is found sitting at a table beneath a painting of a naked cellist. Two more strange deaths occur against a festival backdrop of strange, bizarre, unusual and totally experimental acts. Winwood’s nose for suspecting that dark forces are at work has never let him down before and this case is no different.
The Mystery Professor
Price: $0.99 USD. (Free until May 31!) Words: 6,110. Language: American English. Published: May 24, 2016. Categories: Nonfiction » True Crime » White-collar crime, Nonfiction » Biography » Criminals & outlaws
Peter H Pearse, Professor of Economics at Millersville University Pennsylvania was arrested on 21 March 1983 and charged with false identity. The subsequent investigation discovered that this was not his real name and he taught different subjects in at least five other Universities and had over 34 identities. This is a true story of how his deception was uncovered and his true identity revealed.
When the Dead rise up
Series: Inspector Winwood Mysteries, Book 7. Price: $2.99 $1.20 USD. (60% off until May 31!) Words: 40,150. Language: British English. Published: April 21, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Traditional British, Fiction » Mystery & detective » Cozy
A black plastic bag found in a gas company trench and containing the skeleton of a Cavalier from the English Civil War is no more than a distraction from the daily grind for Chief Inspector Steve Winwood. But another skeleton discovered amongst the water pipes servicing the town square fountain means that a case of a villain’s disappearance from thirty years previous has to be re-opened.
The Book of L:ife
Series: Inspector Winwood Mysteries, Book 6. Price: $2.99 $1.20 USD. (60% off until May 31!) Words: 45,170. Language: British English. Published: October 23, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Traditional British
Chief Inspector Steve Winwood is called out to the Football Club when one of the directors is found in the supporters bar with his head almost severed from his body. The other directors at the Board meeting saw or heard nothing of an intruder. To solve the case Winwood has to dig deep into the history of its founder and the very strange rules by which the Club is run.
Murder at the Fleetwood
Series: Inspector Winwood Mysteries, Book 5. Price: $2.99 $1.20 USD. (60% off until May 31!) Words: 55,760. Language: British English. Published: June 3, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Traditional British, Fiction » Mystery & detective » Cozy
The Murder Mystery Weekend at the Fleetwood Arms Hotel is thrown into chaos when one of the guests is murdered. The guests are members of an amateur dramatic society and they all have solid alibis. Two guests had switched rooms and maybe the dead person was not the intended victim. The investigation switches from one to the other and uncovers the sexual relationships between members of the club.
The Lost Traveller
Price: Free! Words: 7,560. Language: British English. Published: February 18, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Short stories, Fiction » Romance » Contemporary
When J’s car breaks down outside the village pub Ruth the landlady has no reason to disbelieve his explanation that he was just passing through. They have an instant attraction to the other. Whilst he waits for his car to be repaired J tells Ruth of his career and background. Then the details of his job begin to change and Ruth starts to wonder if J has another reason for staying in the village.
Death, Dying and Disappearing During the 1980's
Price: $0.99 USD. (Free until May 31!) Words: 11,890. Language: British English. Published: September 23, 2014. Categories: Nonfiction » Social Science » Death & Dying, Nonfiction » General reference » Curiosities & wonders
This is a collection of news stories about death and dying. They were assembled by the author from scrapbooks maintained during he 1980’s. They are all true stories however bizarre they may appear. There are tales of death by design, by unfortunate accident, death in the animal world, wills, ghosts and the loss of once common or everyday items. A book to dip into, rather than a long read.
The Fordhamton Trilogy
Series: The Fordhamton Trilogy, Book 4. Price: $4.99 $2.00 USD. (60% off until May 31!) Words: 203,990. Language: British English. Published: September 11, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Traditional British, Fiction » Humor & comedy » Black comedy
“Did you hear that, the third most boring town in Britain. This from a place that was covered in green paint, private investigators found dead, sex perverts serving on the council, a plague of vampire bats, sex parlours, mad women going around stabbing cross dressers with hatpins and a man on the loose who became England’s most wanted criminal. I would hate to serve in the town that came first.”
The Russian Doll
Series: Inspector Winwood Mysteries, Book 4. Price: $2.99 $1.20 USD. (60% off until May 31!) Words: 53,580. Language: British English. Published: September 8, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Police Procedural, Fiction » Humor & comedy » Black comedy
After Cllr Bob Ball’s Russian family turn up at his funeral strange things start to happen. Detective Inspector Steve Winwood is faced with three seemingly unconnected murders. At the core appears to be a planning application by a supermarket chain but everyone in town is hiding a secret like a Russian doll with never ending secret dolls inside. Then a fourth body appears.
The Wicked Lady
Price: $0.99 USD. (Free until May 31!) Words: 6,370. Language: British English. Published: February 27, 2014. Categories: Nonfiction » Biography » Criminals & outlaws, Nonfiction » Social Science » Mythology, folklore, & legend
The Wicked Lady is a 350 year old legend of a lady highwayman. Her name was Katherine Ferrers who lived at Markyate Cell, Hertfordshire. One night she was shot and mortally wounded, rode back to Markyate where she died and was buried in Ware, Herts. Her ghost is said to haunt the area still. The legend is retold along with the life of the Katherine Ferrers and the truth revealed.
Seven Days in May
Series: Inspector Winwood Mysteries, Book 3. Price: $2.99 $1.20 USD. (60% off until May 31!) Words: 55,660. Language: British English. Published: January 28, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Police Procedural, Fiction » Romance » Contemporary
The local MP is forced to resign when found in a sexually compromising situation. When the resulting by-election is called Detective Inspector Steve Winwood is confined to desk duties as Liaison Officer whilst his Sergeant is sent undercover with a member of the Intelligence Services. The murder of a reclusive pop star draws them all together to open up another thirty year old murder case.
Fifty Business Ideas
Price: $0.99 USD. (Free until May 31!) Words: 11,000. Language: British English. Published: October 29, 2013. Categories: Nonfiction » Business & Economics » Starting up, Nonfiction » Business & Economics » Home-based businesses
All the business ideas featured are real stories pulled from real news items during the 1980’s. Some started with little or no capital; only a few needed some large investment. What they have in common is that they are all proper businesses operated by real people. Most are considered small businesses and many can be run from home.
The Cricket Club Murders
Series: Inspector Winwood Mysteries, Book 2. Price: $2.99 $1.20 USD. (60% off until May 31!) Words: 51,460. Language: British English. Published: March 6, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Police Procedural, Fiction » Humor & comedy » Black comedy
Detective Inspector Steve Winwood does not believe in vampires or werewolves. The first victim had a stake through his heart and the second swallowed a silver bullet. The third victim is poisoned with garlic. Winwood’s colleagues see a serial killer with links to the cricket club and the letter ‘c’ but the fourth victim just does not fit into the pattern and Winwood has run out of suspects.
Colours of the Underground
Series: Inspector Winwood Mysteries, Book 1. Price: $2.99 $1.20 USD. (60% off until May 31!) Words: 57,100. Language: British English. Published: January 9, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Police Procedural, Fiction » Humor & comedy » Black comedy
A body dumped on waste land, the suspicious death of a taxi driver and a dirty tricks campaign run by a property development company are the mixture for an investigation by DI Winwood. He gets some welcome assisted from the local newspaper reporter. At the centre is the Green Man pub and a group of like minded people ranged against a corrupt Council.
How to Approach Writing a Risk Assessment for Event Managers
Price: $0.99 USD. (Free until May 31!) Words: 6,330. Language: English. Published: November 29, 2012. Categories: Nonfiction » Business & Economics » Project management, Nonfiction » Engineering, trades, & technology » Project Management
The preparation of a Risk Assessment is now an essential requirement for anyone planning a community event. This book is intended as a guide for those unfamiliar with organising fairs, village fêtes and town centre celebrations. It is based on the author’s 8 years experience as Project Manager on a wide variety of community events including markets and late night shopping evenings.
So! You want to be British
Price: $0.99 USD. (Free until May 31!) Words: 27,570. Language: English. Published: July 11, 2012. Categories: Nonfiction » Social Science » Customs & Traditions, Nonfiction » Travel » By region
This book is a collection of more than fifty blogs posted by the author over a two year period. Cultural events, national treasures, famous and ordinary people who made the news illustrate what it means to live in Great Britain and to call oneself British. Most articles are quite short with more than a touch of irreverent humour and read together explain what being British really means.
Notes from the Stage Manager's Box
Price: $2.99 $1.20 USD. (60% off until May 31!) Words: 30,090. Language: English. Published: July 5, 2012. Categories: Nonfiction » Biography » Personal memoir, Nonfiction » Entertainment » Entertainment industry
This is an account of the author’s time with the National Westminster Bank Theatre Club. There are tales of production disasters, memorable performances and the funny side of staging a show from the auditions to first night nerves and mishaps. The book concentrates mainly on the eccentrics and the things that can and usually do go wrong on stage seen from the viewpoint of a Stage Manager.
Childhood Eczema
Price: $0.99 USD. (Free until May 31!) Words: 7,740. Language: English. Published: June 29, 2012. Categories: Nonfiction » Health, wellbeing, & medicine » Children’s health, Nonfiction » Health, wellbeing, & medicine » Alternative therapies
Eczema is usually treated with a course of anti-bacterial creams and emollients to soften the skin. The author explains that the conventional advice of GP’s and other health professionals is not always the best solution.Parents are encouraged to embark along a more natural and holistic course of treatment involving the exclusion of additives and colourings in foods known to cause eczema.
Christopher Marlowe - The Man Who Wrote Shakespeare
Price: $0.99 USD. (Free until May 31!) Words: 8,750. Language: English. Published: May 17, 2012. Categories: Nonfiction » Literary criticism » Drama, Nonfiction » Biography » Historical biography
In October 2016 a story was reported in most popular newspapers that using old-fashioned scholarship and 21st-century computerised tools to analyse texts a team of international scholars have established that Shakespeare’s collaboration with other playwrights was far more extensive and that one of the major contributors was Christopher Marlowe, presumed killed in a bar brawl in 1593.
The Last Resort
Series: The Fordhamton Trilogy, Book 3. Price: $2.99 $1.20 USD. (60% off until May 31!) Words: 43,720. Language: English. Published: December 17, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Humor & comedy » Black comedy, Fiction » Mystery & detective » Cozy
The first Fordhamton Arts Festival gets off to a bad start when the stand-in for the school’s production of The Real Inspector Hound is murdered during the dress rehearsal. Suspicion immediately falls on the drama teacher Jeremy Hawkins owing to his past as a student activist. The lives of the cast come under the spotlight and the list of suspects keeps on growing
An Echo from the Green Fields
Price: $0.99 USD. (Free until May 31!) Words: 26,030. Language: English. Published: October 4, 2011. Categories: Nonfiction » Travel » By region
This collection of articles describes walks around Camden, Hampstead, Highgate and street markets in London. Hertfordshire is featured with a history of Hertford, a ghost story and eccentric clergymen. English innovations such as Bradshaws Railway Guides, Old Moores Almanac, the waterproof mac and entertainers such as Sir Alec Guinness are included; and politicians to explain our eccentricity
The 1980's Quiz Book
Price: $0.99 USD. (Free until May 31!) Words: 15,280. Language: English. Published: September 16, 2011. Categories: Nonfiction » Entertainment » Games, puzzles, & brain twisters, Nonfiction » Entertainment » Games, puzzles, & brain twisters
This is not your normal quiz book. It contains over 340 questions in 20 different categories based on news items from the 1980’s. However not the headline news but ordinary events experienced by ordinary people. . It is equally absorbing for anyone with a taste for the ‘You wouldn’t believe it’ type of story that finds its way into the pages of popular magazines.
Quote Sport Unquote
Price: $0.99 USD. (Free until May 31!) Words: 13,850. Language: English. Published: July 15, 2011. Categories: Nonfiction » Sports & outdoor recreation » Reference, Nonfiction » General reference » Trivia
This is a collection of sporting gems; some to make you laugh, some to ponder on the player’s expertise and other quotes best kept private and not spoken in public. The latter has given rise to what the American’s know as bloopers and what the British affectionately call ‘Colemanballs’ after that doyen of the BBC microphone David Coleman; and there are plenty of them in this book
The Tunnels Of Hertford
Price: $2.99 $1.20 USD. (60% off until May 31!) Words: 15,200. Language: English. Published: June 28, 2011. Categories: Nonfiction » Social Science » Freemasonry & Secret Societies, Nonfiction » Travel » By region
Knights Templar of Hertford still meet in underground chambers connected by a secret network of tunnels. Two brothers described their existence in an exclusive interview for the local newspaper: ‘a largely unknown, indeed mostly secret, ancient underground network that stretches beneath the town’s main streets’. This second edition uncovers the real secret of Hertford’s tunnels.
Insults - Old, New, Borrowed, Blue
Price: $0.99 USD. (Free until May 31!) Words: 12,990. Language: English. Published: June 27, 2011. Categories: Nonfiction » Entertainment » Humor & satire, Nonfiction » Reference » Quotations
Don’t you wish you could always find the right words at just the right time to answer anyone who has upset you? You will find that reply in this book. It has over 750 insults from some of the wittiest, cleverest and smartest writers that have proved that the pen is indeed mightier than the sword.
Return to Fordhamton
Series: The Fordhamton Trilogy, Book 2. Price: $2.99 $1.20 USD. (60% off until May 31!) Words: 76,940. Language: English. Published: June 21, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Traditional British, Fiction » Humor & comedy » Black comedy
The reading of Arthur Brown’s will threatens to disclose secrets that some residents thought well hidden. Tim Rose goes missing from a Training Centre and despite being arrested and released keeps ending up back in Fordhamton. DI Miles Davis is sent back to Fordhamton to unscramble the many events threatening the reputation of an International Banking Group and of more than one town resident.
A Little Local Affair
Series: The Fordhamton Trilogy, Book 1. Price: Free! Words: 86,040. Language: English. Published: June 1, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Traditional British, Fiction » Humor & comedy » Black comedy
The strange events in Fordhamton started with the sudden death of Alan Price. Was it suicide or did the suspicious circumstances indicate murder? No one liked Price but most people in town needed him alive. DI Harley is just a spectator as political and sexual relationships emerge and the investigation made more complex with petty vandalism, arson and another dead body to muddy the waters.

John Barber's tag cloud

a guide to the county town of hertford    alien abduction    area 51    arts    arts festival    auditions for south pacific and other musicals    author quotes    autopsy and inquest reports allowed in murder trial    barley crops    black humour    bodies recovered from secret graves    bogus food reviews used as code for sexual comments    bribery and corruption of council    britain    british detective    business to business opportunities    chronic eczema    civil war    classic west end musicals    closed room murder mystery    cold case murder file    colemanballs    computer software fraud    conspiracy    corporate banking    council corruption    countryside    cozy    cozy crime fiction series    cozy crime stories    customs of other cultures    death    death by drowning    did christopher marlowe help shakespeare write plays    did shakespeare have help in writing plays    diet suggestions for managing eczema    dirty tricks campaign    disappearance of a way of life    do knights templar still meet in underground tunnels    do secret tunnels really exist    documentation of licensing authority    e numbers    eccentrics    election campaigns    england    english comedy    english community    english cricket ground    english humour    english rural detective    english traditions    english traditons    english village tradiions under threat    events and theme nights at english hotels    false identity    folk ballads    folk lore    following health and safety regulations    food intolerance    foods to avoid when suffering with eczema    forensic science in murder investigations    fraud    freemasons and other secret societies in great britain    general knowledge    ghost    guidance notes for stage managers    hertfordshire    highs and lows of amateur dramatic company    highwayman    history british    how to identify hazards and risks    humorous news stories    identity theft    insult jokes    insults    investigative journalism    irony    latin language    lesbian affair    london england    marketing your invention    medical expertise in seventeenth century england    mi5    millersville university    modern ghosts    murder and mystery    murder at the football club    murder crime mystery    murder mysery    murder mystery    murder mystery crime romance humor    murder mystery england    murder mystery weekend    murders    national westminster bank theatre club    obituaries of famous people    opportunities in the leisure industry    persecution of quakers in england    police comedy    political election    politics    pornographic industry    property development    property scam    protecting employees and public at events    pub quiz book    quaker rules ion courtship and marriage    queen elizabeth spy network run by francis walsingham    questions for quiz master    quiz book    quotes    recycling for profit    research as a business opportunity    research legal documents for events    rise of quakers in brewing industry    rise of small criminal gangs    rivals for lead role in amateur dramatic company    role of stage hand in theatre    romance    romance adult comtemporary    romance adult contemporary    rural england    sarcasm    school play    secret service    secret services    serial killer obsessed with letter c    sex after 50    shippensburg university    skin problems    small town murder    spies    sport    sporting bloopers    sporting quotes    sports humor    sports humour    sportsmen    sportswriting    staging a amateur production in a hired hall    statistics about death    strange bequests in wills    strange but true stories    student sex worker    taking out a public liability insurance policy    technical rehearsals for musicals    tips from sportsmen    tories and whigs in hertford    tourist guide    traditional british detectives    traditional english    traditions    undercover intelligence gathering    undercover police operation    university professor    unrequited love    unsolved murder    unusual and accidental deaths    using social media in business start ups    vampire chaser in small english town    village characters    village traditions    virtual museum project    was christopher marlowe a spy    was christopher marlowe killed in deptford    was christopher marlowe tried for treason    weekend events used for sex swapping parties    what happened to knights templar in great britain    what is different approach for public and private arenas    what to change in home environment for eczema suffers    what triggers eczema in children    where are the tunnels in english towns    where do secret societies meet    where is the holy grail    white collar crime    who killed the quaker    who was a member of school of night    witty quotes    working with animals    writer humor