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A Killing in November: The Sunday Times Crime Book of the Month (DI Wilkins Mysteries)

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it was enhanced by deft prose and the detective duo of social misfit Ryan Wilkins and the Balliol-educated Ray Wilkins. The highlight for me was the developing relationship between Ray and Ryan as they worked the case that seemed impossible initially. You can see Ryan hanging around town in his trackie bottoms and Loop jacket and plaid baseball cap, the epitome of the chav. Simon Mason sets his crime novel amidst the dreaming spires of Oxford, depicting the contrasting picture of the city, the sharp divides in social class with those that inhabit the entitled, privileged, wealthy academic circles at the fictional Barnabas College, and the more socially deprived parts with riots taking place amidst the notorious council estates of Blackbird Leys. I got the point that one is natty, one slobby, early on, so didn’t need all the brand names all the way thru.

The two sides of Oxford are well portrayed, there is some pretty good characterisation and Ryan’s relationship with his 2-year-old son is especially well painted, I think. My only suggestion would be Ryan junior should be at least 3 years old with his speech and understanding- so that niggled me abit! That such a character could have made it to DI is a nonsense, from which the plot never really recovers. protagonists so different, make for a cracking tale, a story big on the fact that appearances can be deceiving and that you should never go on your first judgements. A Killing in November arose out of a story told to me by a friend who had been, for a time, a handyman at one of the most prestigious Oxford colleges.I wondered what sort of crime novel would suit these circumstances, and that’s when Ryan came into my mind. This is light reading which entertains and also touches, like most good detective stories, on real issues of some import (from class to race, to illegal immigration and sexual abuse). Ray is reprimanded for not managing to control Ryan, which to be honest is not a realistic possibility, and Ryan finds himself in trouble as he locks horns with the powerful, but his troubles just seem to grow and grow.

I like the setting, the characters and especially the wild Wilkins not so much, a bit over the top and so much stearing that it became tiresome. I agree with other reviewers that maybe little Ryan is a bit advanced for his age though I have met one very articulate two and a half year old. T]his is a very individual piece of work , with a satisfying plot involving Syrian refugees, snobbish dons and nimble interaction between the ill-assorted protagonists. I admire the fact the author did not finish this book with an obvious sequel, but I really hope he has one in mind. This is a terrific crime nov el, with a startlingly original protagonist we're going to see a lot more of.

As is well known, Oxford also contains areas of real deprivation, the estates of Blackbird Leys, Rose Hill and Barton, for instance.

A Killing in November also gives us a colorful murder with another to follow, an unlikely criminal, creepy academics, and a twisty ending. He splits his time between writing at home and a part-time editorial position with David Fickling Books, an imprint of Random House and publisher of his 2011 children's novel, Moon Pie. Boken är förvisso välskriven, med fina miljöbeskrivningar och mestadels runda karaktärer (stereotypiseringen är tillräckligt medveten för att inte kunna kritiseras) - men det är ju ingen "ren" fyra. I don't read many crime novels, but I was in Oxford and it was November, so I thought it would be the best moment to read it. A lot of the humour comes from their contrasting class and backgrounds - white 'trailer trash' versus black Oxford-educated - but it works and the dialogue is wholly convincing (would make great TV screenplay).But I did find a lot of the tropes pretty lazy (posh guy eating Waitrose meals, poor guy wearing trackies and being casually bigoted) and while I get that the novel was going for the edgy detective as its USP, I found the Ryan character to verge too far towards the offensive, implausible and unlikeable. The writing is sharp and full of atmospheric, beautiful images like this simile describing "the grey edge of the city, sprawling in the distance like a blanket left out in the rain," and "He had a face like an old gardening glove, seamed and cracked. The plot is engaging though had a few holes and improbabilities, not least the idea that a British police force would be remotely bothered that one of its officers was violent, xenophobic or misogynist. Also it's clear that his Dad is some kind of super bright young man so it makes sense that his son might be a little above average. Ryan Wilkins is about as far removed from George Smiley as a protagonist can be, he may in time become as memorable.

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