Sunday 30 April 2023

A Killing in November, by Simon Mason

 Back to books, with this detective story set in Oxford. I thought to start off with it was going to be relatively gentle, I suppose because of the Oxford college setting - but gentle it certainly is not.

The 'hero' is Detective Inspector Ryan Wilkins, who has to be one of the most unusual police officers in fiction. He's skinny and foul-mouthed, always wears loud tracksuits, and has a very severe anger management problem.

But - he is clever, he's intensely observant, he's direct to a fault - and he is a wonderful father to his small son, also called Ryan. This little boy is perhaps a bit more articulate than most two and a half year olds, but he's also an absolute sweetie, and the conversations the two of them have are almost heart breakingly tender.

Ryan has come back to Oxford, where he was born and not-exactly brought up, after an unfortunate incident involving a bishop in his previous post. His new partner is DI Ray Wilkins, who is as different from Ryan as he could possibly be: elegant, black, from a privileged background, charming and successful. They don't get on at all at first, but their relationship develops: each has the other's back. But this is not enough to save Ryan from the consequences of his rage - which, in turn, is clearly a result of his horrendously violent childhood - even though he is actually extremely good at his job.

There's lots more to the book than this. I was absolutely gripped; I so wanted Ryan to triumph - as, in some ways, he did.

I'm indebted to Adele Geras, who recommended it on Twitter. The only problem is - there's only one more book published so far in the series... Oh well - off to read it now.

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