There’s no shortage of books featuring Oxford – or a thinly disguised version of the city – as a backdrop.

From as early as 1400 when Chaucer in his Canterbury Tales referred to a “Clerk [student] of Oxenford” it’s taken a leading role in literature.

Many of the Oxford’s portrayed are of the Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited type. Bright young things punting on the Isis, while learned professors stroll the quads... and the sun shines brightly.

Even the body counts in the late Colin Dexter’s Morse books doesn’t tarnish its reputation as a place of education and privilege (in the on-screen versions at least).

But Utton’s is not “the city of dreaming spires” as the Victorian poet Matthew Arnold called Oxford, after the stunning architecture of the university buildings. Yes, the university does feature but in a darker manner and the author shows a different side of the city, further from its centre geographically but perhaps closer to the heart of what really makes it tick.

It’s set in Dead End Close, a cul-de-sac of seven houses on the eastern edge of the city, all with very different inhabitants whose lives become entwined. It makes the point from the start that this is the “real Oxford, the living, breathing city... hidden from all but those who live here.”

Those who do include a widowed bus driver, a neurotic housewife, students, a teenage hacker, criminal brothers... all watched over by Fate (or possibly Death) who is squatting in a house at the end of the street and acts as narrator. With touches of black humour and a brooding sense of dread, it’s a compelling and entertaining read.

At the moment it’s only on Kindle, although Audible have also bought the rights to an audiobook version.

Utton, an author and journalist who lives in Oxford, reports that his agent is still hoping to attract the attention of a print publisher. Let’s hope that’s successful, it deserves wider exposure.

Dead End Close by Dominic Utton, £2.99 ebook