Never Look Back & Death and the Oxford Box

Never Look Back is the first in a police procedural series featuring DI Lockyer and his team.  In this case, a serial killer targeting young women is the focus of DI Lockyer investigation.   DI Lockyer is also very much the focus of the novel in the sense that he is a fully fleshed out character and the reader feels his emotions and the conflicts he experiences.  He is a very “normal” man, not an alcoholic or a hopelessly damaged individual, just someone trying to his best to do his job and be there for his family.

The mystery is well done and intriguing with red herrings to keep you guessing.  The ending connects the cases and the characters up neatly.  The book was fast paced and kept me turning the pages.  I finished it in one sitting.  I will definitely read more in this series.

I came across Death and the Oxford Box by a somewhat circuitous route.  I was at the library book sale and found 3 books with Oxford in the title with references to Morse on the back cover so I threw them in by bag.  When I got home and researched them, I found they were books 5, 7, and 9 in a pretty long running series, which I had not heard of before.  Death and the Oxford Box is book 1 in this series and I checked it out of the library.   This is not a police procedural like Morse. However, it is set in Oxford.  The protagonist, Kate Ivory, is a novelist, who belongs to a running club.  Another member of the club is going through a somewhat nasty divorce in which the ownership of some enamel boxes, including the Oxford box, is in dispute.  Kate, the spurned wife, and the other members of the club develop a plan to steal the boxes and hide them.  At this point, I really began to wonder about the protagonist’s IQ.  The running club’s simple little theft is complicated by a murder and then Kate investigates to clear all their names.

I had a number of issues with this novel.  First, Kate Ivory, is supposedly an educated woman, a novelist, and upon hearing that a friend is having difficult issues with a divorce, doesn’t suggest getting a good lawyer.  No, instead she says:   “Let’s make a copy of his girlfriend’s apartment keys, enter her home when they are not there, take the items you say are yours, hide them, and then lie to the police about all of our whereabouts when it turns out that someone used our little plan to commit a murder.”

I cannot fathom anyone thinking this is a good idea.

I also did not get a good sense of place from the novel.  It was under 200 pages so perhaps there was not time to really develop much, but I would have liked to definitely get more of a sense of being in Oxford.  This could have been in Oxford, Mississippi except for some of the language.

All that being said, this series continues for about 15 books, so either I am completely off-base or it gets better as it goes along.  I will probably try at least one more in the series.

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