A series of crime novels set in Oxford has won praise from fellow authors and critics.

Lost and Never Found is the third novel in the DI Wilkins series and it's coming out on Thursday.

It follows A Killing In November and The Broken Afternoon.

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The novels feature a double act - Oxford-educated DI Ray Wilkins and his unruly partner DI Ryan Wilkins, who is no relation.

The Times has described the series as 'Inspector Morse for the 2020s' and the novels have also won praise from spy novelist Mick Herron, who is based in Oxford and has written a successful series of novels about a team of MI5 agents who have fallen on hard times.

Oxford Mail: Lost and Never FoundMr Herron, whose stories have been adapted for an Apple TV+ series called Slow Horses, said: "Ryan and Ray go from strength to strength, and this, their third outing, is the best yet. Simon Mason has created crime fiction's most entertaining double act in decades."

Mr Mason, who has worked as a publisher and as a writer, told crimetime.co.uk in 2022: "Ryan is not what you would call a good role model. 

Oxford Mail: Simon Mason"Indeed, to look at him, hanging round town in his baggy trackies, Loop jacket and plaid baseball cap, you would be forgiven for assuming him to be a member of the criminal classes.

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"But he’s not. He’s a detective inspector in the Thames Valley Police, having passed out top of his year in training.

"Alas, the training did nothing for his manners.  He has a very low irritation level and zero tolerance for privileged elites.

"He is only in Oxford because the Wiltshire Force transferred him after an unpleasant incident with the Bishop of Salisbury."

Oxford Mail: Author Mick HerronAt the start of Lost and Never Found, a wayward celebrity's Rolls Royce Phantom is found abandoned. The paparazzi go wild.

On Oxford’s meaner streets, homeless Lena Wójcik searches, nervously, for the man known as 'Waitrose', a familiar sight pushing his trolley of possessions. But he's nowhere to be found either.

Mr Mason has pursued parallel careers as a publisher and an author, whose YA crime novels Running Girl, Kid Got Shot and Hey, Sherlock! feature the sixteen-year-old slacker genius Garvie Smith.

He is a former managing director of David Fickling Books, where he worked with many acclaimed writers, including Philip Pullman.

He has also taught at Oxford Brookes University.

At first he wrote books for adults, then books for children, which grew up at roughly the same rate his own children grew up, and now he is back writing books for adults again.

He has also written a work of non-fiction, The Rough Guide to Classic Novels.

Colin Dexter's Oxford-based Inspector Morse novels inspired the ITV dramas Inspector Morse, Lewis and Endeavour.

Series nine of Endeavour - the last - finished in March last year.

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About the author 

Andy is the Trade and Tourism reporter for the Oxford Mail and you can sign up to his newsletters for free here. 

He joined the team more than 20 years ago and he covers community news across Oxfordshire.

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