Martin Baker



Voters Rating 1000 / Published



Praise for Meltdown

'Exciting, intriguing, well-crafted: the business!' - Duncan Bannatyne 

'Books that attempt to convey the atmosphere of a City trading floor and succeed are extremely rare. On the fiction shelves, I can't think of any - Baker's may be the first. His account of the enormous, calculated play that gives the book its name is compelling and more importantly, utterly convincing.' - Evening Standard

'A pacy plot, convincing detail and exotic locations pack this financial thriller.' - Daily Mirror

'All the ingredients are there - fervid scenes on the dealing floor, a murder, a plot to destabilise the world financial system...' - The Times


Samuel Spendlove, one of the brightest young academics at Oxford, has given it all up to work undercover for William Barton, owner of a massive media empire. His reasons are complicated, but he’s finding he gets a thrill out of working for Khan, the legendary market trader, working out of the Paris office of Ropner’s Bank, whose dealings have been known to bring nations to their knees. Barton wants information about Khan. He wants revenge over a man who has bested him once. Spendlove assumes he wants to ensure it is only the once…

Spendlove enjoys both sides of this game, until it all unravels and he finds himself simultaneously accused of almost bringing down the global economy and of the murder of Kaz Day, a glamorous colleague on the trading floor. He goes into hiding in the surreal and dangerous world of underground Paris chased by the police, by Khan, the bank and William Barton... and helped by Kaz's bi-curious lover, Lauren. But who framed him - and why?

More reviews

"A slick, fast-paced financial thriller. Samuel Spendlove is a brilliant but bored academic lured into the world of high finance by a controlling media mogul in the mood for revenge. However, all is not as it seems and he has stumbled into something a lot larger and more dangerous (but a lot more exciting than academia!). The characters are colourful the plot increasingly byzantine but all in all a highly distracting read. We believe its part of a 3 book series so we look forward to the next two!" - lovereading.co.uk

"Baker's prose is remarkably cogent, propelling the narrative onwards with his convincing grasp of technicalities and often racy sentiments." - Godisinthetvzine.co.uk

"Martin Baker's racy first novel has a topical theme… undoubtedly an exciting read." - Mail on Sunday

"For those of us who are labouring under the impression that money is dull, Martin Baker will cheerfully rip the shade of deception from our eyes and show how truly exciting the money markets can be. The narrative is certainly absorbing and I found it far more exciting than some other books falling into the genre of thriller.

"The characterisation is, to my mind, very well done. Samuel's suffering as a betrayed husband, his willingness to take on a new employment and his excellent ability in the world of finance, given his trick memory, is completely credible. The women, too, are painted beautifully and one could imagine meeting them - should the reader mix in such circles - in the real world. Perhaps the publishers, with their limitless ambitions and view of the business world as a game, might seem a little exaggerated, but then what, in high finance, does seem plausible to those of us with limited knowledge of the world of money?

"Baker is the author of non-fiction as well as fiction. He has, however, promised two more books in a series featuring Samuel Spendlove. I trust the reading public doesn't have to wait too long for a sequel to this financial thriller." - Reviewingtheevidence.com

"With so many thrillers clamouring for our attention, something special is needed to rise above the crowd - and on the evidence of Meltdown, Martin Baker has just what it takes... splendid, fast-moving stuff, in which the stakes move from personal vendettas to nothing less than a threat to the global economy - all pulled off with real skill." - The Good Book Guide

"A helter-skelter story that moves at the pace of a cheetah on speed… writing with an assurance and conviction that leaves no room for doubt. Baker spices Meltdown up with as much sex as I can remember in any crime novel that doesn't feature the Marquis de Sade. And it's not plain vanilla sex either. There's something here for every armchair fetishist, and highly entertaining it is too.

"Meltdown is not going to win Baker the Booker Prize, but I suspect it will win him something infinitely more valuable: a large army of thrill-seeking readers for whom this is the perfect commuting/beach read. It is entertaining, undemanding and relentless, and it's not difficult to see why Macmillan believes it has another star on its hands.

"So my advice: sit back, switch off and enjoy the ride(s)." - Material Witness

"It's better than anything Dan Brown has come up with, yet it has similarly delectable ingredients to The Da Vinci Code - an international chase, a traumatised but smart woman who saves our academic turned hero." - City AM

"Baker lifts his thriller from a routine innocent-man-trying-to-clear-his-name drama by setting his action among the banking world high-rollers and rogue traders as the world faces its most dramatic financial crash ever. And his nail-biting escape, on a motorbike, from a villain firing a crossbow in the busy streets of Montparnasse is particularly memorable. Unlike most thriller gunfights, there is collateral damage. The book is very readable, with plenty of pace, sex and colourful characters." - Barking & Dagenham Recorder

"Martin Baker's first thriller is an eye-opener about the world of financial high-flyers who will do anything to manipulate the markets." - Irish Independent

"Great debut!" - Goldsboro Books

"Baker has a good sense of how to construct his sentences, which must come from his journalist background, added to which is a good dry wit that brings an edge to the words. Not everything works, there are a few twists too many perhaps, a lot to take in as the novel reaches its climax. But with enough dashes of sex, politics and murder thrown in to keep it lively, Meltdown is a first rate thriller." - shotsmag.co.uk

"Every time the global markets for stocks, commodities or currencies flutter and dip, giving investors the jitters, Martin Baker's debut novel, Meltdown, gains more relevance.

"Just as Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code needled organized religion, Meltdown questions the dealings of financial gurus. Not only does Baker's research rival Brown's, but he writes better. Deftly, he conveys the details and excitement of big markets and their workings.

"All the way to Meltdown's last line, worries persist about who did right or wrong, who should be trusted or not and if capitalism builds prosperity or exploits millions (of people) for billions (of dollars). Market trading, fictional or real, raises such doubts.

"With murder, mystery, excitement and better-than-average sex scenes, Meltdown has the ingredients to become an enthralling motion picture. But no movie will surpass Baker's book." - Cairns Magazine

"Meltdown's denouement is outstanding, the highlight… Meltdown is certain to sell very well." - Tangled Web UK

"Meltdown hit the shelves just as the events it depicted came true: a rogue trader on the run, global markets in upheaval, ordinary people's lives changed by financial forces beyond their comprehension." - Melbourne Age

"Compelling… with healthy amounts of sex and murder thrown in for good measure." - getfrank.co.nz

"Baker has put his exposure to the financial world to good use in his novel." - New Zealand Press Association

"A cracking good yarn. If Bakers produces more of this quality then he is going to be a most welcome addition to the band of fine UK crime fiction writers. With the recent major scandal in Paris involving a rogue trader the timing of Meltdown couldn't have been better. A riveting read, full of intrigue, sex, wheeling and dealing and financial skulduggery. I hope it doesn't take the author another ten years before we get another." - Beattie's Book Blog

"Worryingly readable." - The Observer

"A racy novel." - The Sun

"An excellent novel. A fast-paced tale of intrigue and conspiracy at the top echelons of international finance, it could not have been better timed.

"As the world teeters on the brink of meltdown, financiers and business people in general become the targets of universal anger for causing such chaos - in Europe, traders are attacked in the street, and in America there are shootings and lootings at the Wall Street HQs of the country's leading financial institutions.

"It makes for a great read, especially in the current atmosphere of financial fragility. From being "masters of the universe" when the markets were soaring upwards, bankers, brokers and traders suddenly appear as a bunch of reckless, incompetent gamblers, frivolously squandering away our livelihoods on nothing more than a series of casual hunches.

"And not just business people - the authorities were suddenly portrayed as participants in this gigantic fraud. In Baker's book, the French Government takes part in a massive exercise to 'fix' the financial markets involving a web of international conspiracy from Sydney to New York.

"There is a telling line in Meltdown that sums up what has happened to the financial system, its participants and the people who write and broadcast about it: "Funny how commentators discovered a conscience when things went belly-up." That is what has taken place in the past month of mayhem in the global financial system - we have all discovered a conscience." - Emirates Business 24/7

"Meltdown is pacy and prescient." - Sunday Express


William Barton, global media mogul, gets a briefing from one of his editors, McMurray. Barton may have a very special mission for disaffected academic, Samuel Spendlove…

Barton remained absolutely silent. His silhouette was focused on the bare brick office wall, its bleak designer chic dimly visible in the gloom.

‘He’s smart. Conventionally and unconventionally,’ said McMurray at length.

Barton nodded slowly. ‘Agreed. But is he right?’ Barton pushed the file towards McMurray again, this time with the palm of his hand. Still no eye contact. McMurray swallowed. He wanted a cigarette, hot and cleansing at the back of his throat. How had it come to this? He had edited his first newspaper at his grammar school, a bleak but grindingly effective educational institution in Paisley. His career ascent had been swift and happy: local paper, the big story that took him to the home news desk on a national newspaper in fashionable west London – as locations went, a nice trade. He soon got used to the long hours. There was excitement in finding out how it all worked, how a society fitted together – the power junkies of Westminster, the City boys with their fast cars and faster women. He had experienced the paranoia, low pay and intellectual snobbery of literary London; the dirty, dirty business of professional sport; the decline of Christianity and the rise of Islam. And, yes, the workings of the media. The media held up a mirror to it all, sometimes tilting it slightly, this way or that, according to which supermodel, banker or political groupie had credits in the favour bank.

But this? This was different.

‘A precocious scholar,’ said McMurray cautiously. ‘Went to an obscure independent school in the north of England. Jesuit-run. Took his public exams a couple of years early.’

The proprietor contemplated the tips of his fingers. ‘Catholic,’ murmured Barton. ‘A Taig, yes,’ said McMurray, who came from the Protestant side of the west of Scotland divide. ‘Shouldn’t be a problem. We’re not asking him to renounce his faith in the one holy, Roman, Catholic, and pederastic Church.’ He grinned slightly at his own wit.

‘Yes,’ said Barton slowly. ‘It could be worse. I suppose.’

McMurray nodded and turned a page. He knew what ‘worse’ meant. The proprietor had once had a personal assist- ant – the publishing equivalent of a Parliamentary Private Secretary. The young man was brilliant, dynamic, committed. Could, would and did do the lot: drive, type, play chess, minute a meeting in perfect reported speech, offer a critique of geopolitics from the perspective of anywhere on the planet – you just had to pick a continent, pick a country. But there was a problem when Barton wanted him to work on Passover weekend. The boy couldn’t, wouldn’t. There would be no more Jews taking religious holidays in William Barton’s time.

There were of course plenty of donations to Jewish chari- ties, and many a well-placed, politically astute editorial. And this would continue to be so. It would be inconvenient – no, impossible – for a media baron to be seen to be anti-semitic. But no more Jews on the payroll. Catholics, religious ones at any rate, could also be a risk.

‘I don’t think Spendlove can afford to be too pious, sir.’

‘Why’s that?’ Barton seemed to be memorizing the tiny differences in shape of each and every brick in the wall…

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