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Scholar’s Mate tells the story of a little boy with an extraordinary gift, imprisoned alone in his silence, and of the quest for atonement and redemption of the man who deserted him in his hour of need. It is a tale of crime and detection, of murder and patricide, and also a moving story of love, friendship, courage and heroic sacrifice.

David York sets out, with the help of attractive private eye Lesley Bradshaw, on a determined mission to unravel the dark secret buried deep in George Campbell’s past, to unearth the roots of the trauma that has isolated him. His quest will take him across the world.

Stylishly crafted by the author of Nine Times in Ten, and set in his native city of Sheffield, this gripping page-turner will not let you rest until you have read to the very end.

This is a novel that will make you smile and will also tear at your heart-strings.


By   V.A.L.
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This review is from: SCHOLAR’S MATE (Kindle Edition)
Utterly absorbing and compelling from beginning to end. Beautifully and intelligently written, with such incisive and well observed portrayals of the various characters. I read it in 3 sittings over 2 days and was completely captivated by this unusual story of human relationships and how they interact and impact so profoundly on one another. Extremely thought provoking, but also witty and philosophical by turn. One of the best novels I have read in the last few years. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
5.0 out of 5 stars It’s intelligent and original and at the same time connects with …,
By Toni
It is an unfortunate fact of life that only books published by the major publishers become bestsellers. This novel should be a bestseller. It is an antidote to airport novels although it is just as entertaining. It makes you think and touches you emotionally. It is not written to a formula. It’s intelligent and original and at the same time connects with the early tradition of the novel that combined a variety of genres in one story. There are elements of the detective novel, the psychological novel and the social novel and above all it makes you want to continue reading from the very beginning, The plot and the characters are also strong. I very much enjoyed it.

We really enjoyed the book and thought it was beautifully written . . . .

Just back from our book club, so thought you’d like some feedback!
We really enjoyed the book and thought it was beautifully written. Such insight into the life of and demands on teachers. ( some would say beyond the call of duty). The characters were credible and the strength of feeling between the 3 main characters was very touching. On the whole we liked the “locality” of the story, although one member found that aspect upsetting. [the character] Marilyn also added an equally important dimension, one that was particularly resonant for some of us.
I loved the chess connections at the start of each chapter- even though I’m not a chess player. Very clever to have that leitmotif, since chess was the only thing keeping poor George going.
Despite his unwillingness to participate in the world around him, I found George to be a very sympathetic character. . . . .

5.0 out of 5 stars This is a relatively new author & I believe this …,
By Judith (UK) – This review is from: Scholar’s Mate from
This is a relatively new author & I believe this is his first full length novel. Very well written, with interesting characters, full of intrigue and surprise, I found it very entertaining and difficult to put down. Roll on the next one!
5.0 out of 5 stars I usually enjoy a different kind of book,
Found a copy of this in The Broadfield pub in Sheffield, (which is mentioned in the book), with a note inside it inviting the person who found it to take it, so I took it home for a read. I usually enjoy a different kind of book, but once started, it was hard to put down. The story is well told, and the first person character, David York, is very real as a human with good intentions and some flaws. The book covers some hard subject material, child abuse, murder, failures of ‘the system’ , as well as heroic self sacrifice, redemption, compassion and reconciliation.
5.0 out of 5 stars New author – excellent read,
This review is from: Scholar’s Mate from
Just been given a copy of this book. Excellent read, well written and I couldn’t put it down. Finished it in under 2 days! I would highly recommend it.
5.0 out of 5 stars Definitely recommended. …,
I found Scholars Mate an enjoyable and interesting book, well written and observed.
Fantastic that it is set in Sheffield and located in familiar territory, mentioning Kellam Island and Broadfield pubs. Definitely recommended. I now plan to read john Fosters first book.
5.0 out of 5 stars ***** Completely absorbing.
Completely absorbing. Makes something incredible more believable as you read on thanks to the skill of the author.

. . . very easy to read, a lovely story and kept me gripped to the very end

I have recently had great pleasure in reading  John’s latest book “Scholar’s Mate” and I really enjoyed it.  It was very easy to read, a lovely story and kept me gripped to the very end.  It’s not very often that I read a book in 3 days!!
It was passed on to me by my daughter who works as a hairdresser in Sheffield, and I will have pleasure in passing it on to my friends.
Good luck John!
Janet ******
ps  I will also take pleasure now in reading John’s first [book] “Nine Times in Ten”.
I finished it yesterday…and feel bereft! I enjoyed your book SO much.
I loved all the characters; you had depicted them so vividly.
I think I probably imagined David to be [the author] . . .  but all your other characters had very different voices and were so realistic. I loved the references to local places and not so local ones and think you must have seen quite a lot of the world to make it feel so real.
I shall have to get your first book! You have simply got to keep writing John. You have so much more to share. I can’t wait to read more. . . . . . no writers’ block please…a new fan awaits a new book. Get your finger out!
Rachel *******

4.0 out of 5 stars Engaging and thought provoking,

This review is from: SCHOLAR’S MATE from
I found this book immediately engaging. The subject matter is dealt with sensitively and in a thought provoking and challenging way. An enjoyable read.
from Goodreads
Steven Kay

  Steven Kay rated it “really liked it”

Scholar’s Mate is extremely well written. It is told from the point of view of David York a 70-year-old former teacher at the Harry Brearley school in Sheffield and explores his relationship with an ex pupil — a most singular individual who doesn’t speak or interact with others. This individual, George Campbell, is met on his release from Wakefield prison at the beginning of a book and over the course of the novel we learn what happened.
That this novel is indie-published says a lot about modern publishing — and my presumption is that it failed to penetrate the bastion of commercial publishers. On the face of it books like this are all the vogue : psychological thrillers based around an unusual condition: take Before I Go To Sleep, for example. The problem is that Scholar’s Mate is probably too well written—it is not sufficiently trashy to have popular appeal, not sufficiently sensationalist or raunchy—in fact (spoiler alert) there’s next to no sex in it. Unlike Before I Go To Sleep, it seems believable, and the psychology credible, rather than fanciful: but it lacks that pace and sensationalism of a modern commercial novel. Instead there is intelligent reflection on what makes a good life, rather than gratuitous peril around every corner. And the protagonist is a 70-year-old ex-headteacher, whose wife has dementia, not a grizzled ex-copper with serial relationship issues.
The characters all felt very real and there are some great little cameos from minor characters such as the cleaner Suzi and the cat Tuppence, who steals every scene he enters. The plotting is good; though my one criticism is that the series of chess games at the end don’t work for me. I’m not sure what they contributed to the main plot and I was unable to suspend disbelief to allow them to happen in my own mind.
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