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Jon Barton

The Essential Reading List

Jon Barton is a London-based stage and screenwriter. His theatre work has been performed at major venues across the UK including The Old Vic, Almeida, Lyric Hammersmith, HOME Manchester and Birmingham MAC.

He has written for the BBC, and is a member of BAFTA. He edits for The Literary Consultancy, and tutors writers at City Academy, Iconic Steps, The Princes Trust, Lambeth Adult Learning, and City Lit. Dive is his first novel.

Books by me

Dive by Jon Barton


"I wrote Dive as a love letter to my favourite genres in storytelling. Set in and around the dangerous and atmospheric world of police divers in central London, the novel follows a lone investigator in a desperate search for his teenage daughter, who disappeared in mysterious circumstances. With nods to Chinatown, French Connection, The Big Sleep and Blood Meridian, I got to delve into seldom explored underworld of London with this book."

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Books that influenced me

The Dry by Jane Harper

The Dry

Jane Harper

"This is a faultless example of the crime genre: a deeply atmospheric novel featuring a strong sense of place, and a flawed, compromised protagonist. Set during a draught that has ravaged a small town in rural Australia, Harper skilfully weaves multiple storylines towards a devastating and poignant conclusion."

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Room by Emma Donoghue


Emma Donoghue

"What I love most about this book is how Donoghue carefully offsets the darkness and the implied trauma with the wonder of a child’s eye-view. Room is actually a hopeful uplifting story about recovery and reconciliation, and the inner strength it takes to redefine oneself in the face of tragedy outside your control. It’s a tonal masterstroke."

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The Plot by Jean Hanff Korelitz

The Plot

Jean Hanff Korelitz

"I was sucked into this quietly unnerving story straight away. The pace is perfectly judged, and brilliantly written in a way that compels you without speed, with a set of twists that keep you turning the page. It also has an acerbic running commentary on the moral question of plagiarism and its consequences. The ending sent a genuine chill up my spine."

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No Country for Old Men  by Cormac McCarthy

No Country for Old Men

Cormac McCarthy

"I’m a huge fan of westerns. McCarthy’s novel is as much about understanding violence as it is about the folly of trying to contain it. The propulsive chase narrative, in which a man attempts to flee a crime scene with a bag of cash, only to pursued relentlessly by an unimaginable force of evil, manages to subvert and modernise so many of the western tropes. It’s a stone cold classic."

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Dragon Teeth by Michael Crichton

Dragon Teeth

Michael Crichton

"Michael Crichton has been a hero of mine since I was a teenager, and Dragon Teeth is one of his very best books. A state-hopping adventure set during the Bone Wars, this has everything you’d want from a caper – it even features a shootout in a Deadwood dustbowl. Crichton is having a lot of fun here. The novel is populated by outlaws and lawmen, rangers and bandits, even mad professors. If you want a fun, thrilling, constantly evolving read, look no further."

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The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris

The Silence of the Lambs

Thomas Harris

"One of the most important procedural novels of all time, razor-sharp and sinister in its construction, terrifically tense in every detail. Readers may remember it for the returning character of Hannibal Lecter, but it’s the bravery of Clarice Starling that makes this novel work for me. The book itself is a masterwork, and perfect demonstrates how to craft suspense."

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Different Seasons by Stephen King

Different Seasons

Stephen King

"A collection of four novellas with a more serious dramatic bent than the horror fiction for which King is famous, tied together via subtitles that relate to each of the four seasons. These stories are proof of King’s writing prowess and the skill as a storyteller. The Body (which was turned into the film Stand By Me) is still one of my favourite novellas ever written."

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Gangster by Lorenzo Carcaterra


Lorenzo Carcaterra

"I do love to be absorbed into new worlds as a reader, whether it’s the western frontier or outer space. This one is about the mafia, in depression-era New York city, and is as every bit as bullet-ridden and action packed as you might expect. It’s just a terrifically fun and pulpy ride that sucks you into the dark underworld of America."

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