Watch for it in 2021

The Degrees of Barley Lick will be on book store shelves next year thanks to Running the Goat Books and Broadsides

Premise: A kidnapper takes an eleven-year-old boy from a summer camp on Vancouver Island and leaves a single set of coordinates plugged into a handheld global positioning system (GPS) for the boy’s distraught father to find. There is no known motive and no ransom request.


The Degrees of Barley Flick is a coming-of-age story told through the eyes of the protagonist, 17-year-old Barley Flick, who is adrift since the recent death of his father. Barley lives in Cloverdale, a suburb east of Vancouver with his mother and struggles with the fact that she has a new boyfriend.

Set in 2004, the story opens with Barley set to compete in GeoFind, a geocaching competition to determine the best geocacher in British Columbia and Washington. Barley wants to honour his dead father by winning first-place.

But several things stand in his way.

First of all, Phyllis Henderson, an 18-year-old Cree girl who is Barley`s main competition in GeoFind; and then Fred Newton, Barley’s mother’s new boyfriend who wants Barley to interrupt the GeoFind contest to help with an RCMP investigation that involves geocaching, and finally the government of the United States when they reinstate something called Selective Availability, which scrambles satellite signals so people can no longer find accurate coordinates using a hand-held GPS, putting an end to not only the GeoFind contest, but also to Barley’s ability to find the clues leading to the kidnapped boy.

The Degrees of Barley Flick runs 60,000 words and is written in the third person, past tense in Barley`s point of view. The story follows Barley as he changes from a self-absorbed youth into a more mature young adult who realizes everything is not always just about him. He begins to accept Newton into his life and comes to the understanding that by doing so, he is not being disloyal to his father’s memory.

The book is written with the reluctant young teen male reader in mind. The Degrees of Barley Flick deals with serious issues like kidnapping, the dissolution of a happy family after an unexpected death of a parent and the misunderstandings between youth that can lead to alienation. The Degrees of Barley Flick also offers some redemption when Barley and Phyllis once again become friends, and Barley no longer feels the need to be so defensive towards his mother or Newton.

Geocaching remains a popular international sport with more than a million geocaches worldwide, and some of the geocaches mentioned in the book are real. I imagine the book to be popular among those who love hiking and the outdoors and those participating in the Duke of Edinburgh Awards.


Susan Flanagan signed 'The Degrees of Barley Lick' to Running the Goat in 2020.


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Excerpt from 'The Degrees of Barley Lick' 

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