Oxford-based author Simon Mason has made a mark with his almost identically named sleuths Ray Wilkins and Ryan Wilkins, the former precise and formal, the latter dishevelled (and now discharged from his job). In The Broken Afternoon, a child goes missing from an Oxford nursery, and the duo must work together again to tackle a clandestine criminal network. Such issues as the vulnerability of children and current diversity drives are grist to Mason's mill in this beguiling offspring of Colin Dexter's Morse series.
Move over Morse. Simon Mason's Oxford crime novel confounds all our expectations.
His work has qualities in common with that of fellow Oxford novelist Mick Herron: alert, amusingly cynical, relishing absurdities
The detectives Ryan Wilkins and Ray Wilkins - no relation - are back . . . Having established their relationship so vividly last year in A Killing in November, Simon Mason spreads his wings to show just how good a writer he is. The horror of paedophilia is never downplayed and throws into relief Ryan's unconditional love for his young son: "Be good, Daddy." Oxford and its environs - described so well you can smell the heat-crazed pavements and the rank luxuriance of the water-meadows - is a character in itself . . . The result . . . is a funny, thrilling and life-affirming story.
A welcome return from an unforgettable, nuanced character.
There is no one else like him!
Humane, tense, funny and fabulous
The writing is fast and colourful, the men's love-hate relationship is entertaining, and their own troubles add depth to this excellent police procedural.
This pacy tale, with twists and raw emotion, is gripping
There is a long history of crime fiction set in Oxford, stretching back to Dorothy L Sayers. Contemporary writers offer a very different view of the city . . . Simon Mason's superb second Oxford-set novel, The Broken Afternoon, opens in a poky office of a van hire company . . . Child abduction is a difficult subject for genre fiction, but Mason handles it sensitively, and every sentence is beautifully written.
A bright new series that makes Colin Dexter's Oxford feel distinctly passé
Simon Mason is a bright new talent who sets his second book of this series in a thoroughly modern Oxford that makes Morse seem distinctly passé.
Mason's superb crime novels are set in a version of Oxford where areas of deprivation co-exist with posh family homes. His detective, working as a night security guard, stumbles on information about the disappearance of a child. Mason handles a difficult subject well and every sentence is beautifully written.