It's a brave author who chooses to follow in the footsteps of Colin Dexter, Edmund Crispin and Dorothy L Sayers and write a crime novel set in Oxford, but that's exactly what Simon Mason does in A Killing in November.
A successful author already of award-winning Young Adult crime novels, Mason claims that he "really hasn't read many crime novels set in the city" and that basically he chose Oxford as the setting because he lives there.
Mason in interview is keen to emphasise Oxford's huge inequalities. "It's a divided city, not just between town and gown, but between rich and poor, between mansions and maisonettes, between exclusive Park Town with its seven million pound Georgian houses and the Blackbird Leys estate, one of the most deprived areas in England".
This explains, perhaps, Mason's reasons for his extraordinary character, Detective Inspector Ryan Wilkins, who grew up on a trailer park in Hinksey, west of Oxford, joined the police via the Inspector Level Direct Entry programme and graduated top of his class.
He's "skinny and white, sloppily dressed in the manner of the idle poor, in white Adidas trackies, a garish jacket and unlaced Nike trainers".
He's 27 but looks 15 and has just been transferred to Thames Valley Police from Wiltshire after he "head-butted the Bishop of Salisbury".
He scratches himself, wipes his nose with his fingers, has anger management issues and carries a Glock. However, his retentive memory makes him a remarkably successful detective.
Ryan Wilkins particularly resents "privileged elites", and it's therefore a mistake when he's sent to investigate a murder at wealthy St Barnabas College.
The case should have gone to Detective Inspector Raymond Wilkins, one of the force's highflyers, one "of a new generation of young black detectives".
He's 30, educated and articulate, having studied PPE at Balliol and he has risen rapidly via the fast-track graduate programme in criminal investigation.
A Killing in November has received rave reviews from critics in the UK.
But for this reviewer, it's the interplay between the polar opposites called D. I. Wilkins that dominates the novel. The crime, the motive and the murderer are all lost until the very end when, almost out of the blue, the crime is solved.
At the same time, the other characters, from the Provost of St Barnabas, to the rich Sheik who is visiting the college on the night of the murder, to the Syrian refugee lawyer who can only find work in the college kitchens, are hardly more than caricatures.
However everyone reads a different book, so give A Killing in November a try because, after all, it is a crime novel set in Oxford.
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