The peace of a Midlands village is upset when local businessman Harry Bowers doesn’t return from choir practice. More concerned than the man’s own wife, it would seem, investigating officer Detective Sergeant Sunita Roy becomes convinced he has met a sinister end.
There is no trace of the man – just a litany of evidence of an ailing marriage and a nose-diving business venture.
In charge of her first serious case, DS Roy will struggle to win the respect of her colleagues – in particular, her Brummie boss, DCI Gavin Roscoe. All that whilst fighting off the attentions of an increasingly desperate suitor.
Who had it in for the chorister? And is Roy tough enough to break down the defences and prejudices of Middle England? MURDER ON OXFORD LANE is the first book in a series of crime fiction titles by Tony Bassett.
Before turning my hand to writing novels, I was a journalist for more than forty years.
Some of my happiest years in the profession occurred towards the start – when I was a general news reporter on an evening newspaper in Worcester.
So when I launched into my second career as an author, I knew at once the region of England where I wanted to set my storylines. In and around Worcestershire and Warwickshire.
There was never any uncertainty about the path the rest of my life would follow after journalism. I had always dreamt of writing crime fiction.
So, after bringing my journalistic career to an end in 2015, I sat down and began planning the book that would eventually become Murder On Oxford Lane.
A variety of thoughts passed through my head. The decision about the book’s setting was an easy one. I never forgot the happy times I spent in Worcestershire and Warwickshire.
This beautiful region of England was known to me. It experienced its fair share of rural crime and, being close to Birmingham and the Black Country, its fair share of urban crime.
So many crime novels are set in London and the South East that I thought the area in and around the UK’s second city would make the perfect location.
But what would be the storylines? And who would feature in the book?
Finding plots or storylines proved easy for me. I’ve always had a vivid imagination and my long experience working for newspapers – at times covering major UK news events – has provided real-life experiences which, with some tweaking, have been developed into fictional narrative.
But my biggest problem was in the choice of characters. I originally planned for two male detectives and wrote the first draft of Murder On Oxford Lane around two such people. Publishers were not impressed when I submitted that first draft. The world had moved on. White, male detectives investigating crime in a peaceful country village was no longer part of the publisher’s agenda. I had to make my characters more up to date.
As a result, I created DS Sunita Roy, the twenty-five-year-old law graduate who comes from an Asian background. And, as a counter balance, I decided to introduce as her boss DCI Gavin Roscoe, a harassed, middle aged detective with far more experience of CID work.
After that change of characters, I’m pleased to say the London publisher The Book Folks took an interest in my manuscript and, last August, signed me up for a whole series of book based on them.
The second book in this Midlands crime series is called The Crossbow Stalker. It was published in February this year – four weeks after Murder On Oxford Lane.
In this book, detectives Roscoe and Roy visit a troubled part-time actor, Oliver Bufton, at his secluded cottage and try to reassure him that police are investigating a hate campaign being directed at him. He’s been attacked in the nearby town centre and had acid thrown on his car.
But just six days later, Oliver is found murdered outside his cottage with a crossbow bolt in the heart and a handkerchief embroidered with the letter ‘C’ wedged in his mouth. This sets them on the trail of a serial killer who is striking fear into the community.
I’m particularly pleased Murder On Oxford Lane has finally appeared because it’s the first book I ever sat down to write. The whole book has been totally written THREE TIMES. And, over the years, the opening chapter has appeared in at least four different formats!
Two other novels by me, which are set in Kent, have been published previously. Smile Of The Stowaway (2018) tells of a couple who harbour an asylum seeker found beneath their motorhome and then fight to clear him of a murder charge.
The Lazarus Charter (2020) sees the same Kent couple encountering Russian agents. This book was endorsed by Marina Litvinenko, whose husband was poisoned in 2006, and the parents of Dawn Sturgess, the 44-year-old British mother-of-three Dawn Sturgess, who died in Salisbury in 2018. The book is dedicated to Marina’s husband Alexander and to Dawn.
Thank you, Tony Bassett and Rachel’s Random Resources.
About the author
Tony Bassett, a former Fleet Street journalist, has written a gripping series of crime novels set in the Midlands.
The first book in the series is called Murder on Oxford Lane. Published by The Book Folks, it concerns the disappearance of a property tycoon from a sleepy Warwickshire village.
Middle-aged DCI Gavin Roscoe and his relatively inexperienced sergeant, DS Sunita Roy, are confronted by suspicious deaths as they struggle to uncover what has happened to the businessman.
The second book in this Midlands crime series, The Crossbow Stalker, will be released shortly.
Tony decided to set this string of novels in Warwickshire and Worcestershire after spending many happy years working as a newspaper reporter in Worcester.
He first developed a love of writing at the age of nine when he and a friend produced a magazine called the Globe at their junior school in Sevenoaks, Kent.
At Hull University, Tony was named student journalist of the year in 1971 in a competition run by Time-Life magazine and went onto become a national newspaper journalist, mainly working for the Sunday People in both its newsroom and investigations department.
His very first book to be published, the crime novel Smile Of The Stowaway, was released in December 2018. It concerns a Kent couple who harbour a stowaway and then battle to clear his name when he is charged with murder.
Then, in March 2020, the spy novel The Lazarus Charter, was released. It involves foreign agents operating in the UK. The book has kindly been endorsed by Marina Litvinenko, widow of the murdered Russian dissident Alexander Litvinenko, and by Stan and Caroline Sturgess, parents of the innocent mother-of-three poisoned with novichok in Salisbury in 2018.
Tony, who has written at least four other novels which are as yet unpublished, has five grown-up children. He is a Life Member of the National Union of Journalists. He lives in South-East London with his partner Lin.