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Sept. 21, 2011
Steve Rottinghaus, Baker University public relations director, (785) 594-8330 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Baker alumnus to discuss latest suspense thriller

Baldwin City, Kan. — Author and Baldwin City native James Houston Turner, a 1969 Baker University graduate and 20-year cancer survivor, will be on the Baldwin City campus to sign his latest suspense thriller, “Department Thirteen,” at 3:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 7, at the Collins House, 505 Eighth St. The Baker University Bookstore will provide copies of the book for purchase.Talanov_Poster2

“Department Thirteen” is based on Turner’s years as a smuggler behind the Old Iron Curtain, as well as an actual covert assassination and sabotage unit of the KGB. It chronicles a week in the life of retired KGB informant, Aleksandr Talanov, who is happily married in Sydney to a woman he does not love. But when a group of assassins from his past narrowly miss killing him and his wife, the intrepid Talanov discovers he has broken the first rule of survival by unwittingly falling in love with the woman he must now fall out of love with if they are to survive. The book has been hailed as "Ludlumesque" by The Dallas Morning News.

Turner said the lessons learned from surviving squamous cell carcinoma in his jaw influenced his writings.

“I now try to draw on those emotions in order to add depth to my books,” he said. “Talanov is not just another action here. He’s a guy with real emotions, real enemies and real threats. I want my readers to face adversities with him.”

Of his experience behind the Iron Curtain, Turner said, "It was pretty high-octane stuff for a guy with an active imagination. I've been shadowed by the KGB, organized secret midnight meetings with informants, located hidden mountain bunkers and investigated legends of forgotten tunnels buried beneath the cobblestones and bricks of some of Central Europe's most venerable cathedrals."

Turner received a bachelor’s degree from Baker University and a master’s degree from the University of Houston. After working as a journalist in Los Angeles, where more than 130 of his interviews with victims of abuse and misfortune were published in “Lifeline,” the magazine of the Union Rescue Mission, Turner began writing fiction. Diagnosed with cancer while living in San Diego, he traveled to Australia for a life-saving operation in 1991. He and his wife, Wendy, live in Adelaide, South Australia.

In 2008, Turner was honored by USA Book News in the prestigious 2008 Best Books Awards.

For more information on Turner and his book tour, go to


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