Recent Events

Wednesday 17 January 2024

‘Lost and Never Found’ by Simon Mason

Published by Riverrun,
18 January 2024.
ISBN: 978-1-52942-556-4 (HB)

When rich socialite Zara Fanshawe disappears after pranging her Rolls Royce in Oxford, Superintendent ‘Barko’ Wallace instructs his two DI’s, Ryan Wilkins and Ray Wilkins (not related) to put an end to the media frenzy by finding Zara asap.  Much to Ray’s chagrin, Barko appoints Ryan as the lead investigator. The two DI’s have completely different backgrounds. Ray is tall, dark, handsome, well-dressed and well-educated. He works by the book. Ryan wears silver joggers with orange T-shirts, ignores normal police procedure, invents rules as he goes along
, and you wonder if he has read any books - other than the one about a mole and a mouse that he reads to his three-year-old son. Ryan’s habit of mischievously exerting his new authority by insisting that Ray performs menial tasks like knocking on doors, does nothing to harmonise the already shaky foundations of their working relationship.

Zara’s body is found in an empty house belonging to her ex-husband. Nearly twenty years ago Zara had been a student in Oxford. Until a couple of months ago she had been living in luxury and leading a frivolous life full of drugs, drink etc. Now, for whatever reason, she seemed to have abandoned her hedonistic lifestyle for one of poverty and penance. Why had she brought five thousand pounds to Oxford and started searching for a homeless man, ‘Waitrose’, who pushes a trolly around the town? She had lots of friends and no obvious enemies. Why would anyone want to kill her?

Ryan is convinced that something that happened whilst Zara was a student was responsible for the change in her behaviour, but what?  As Ray and Ryan battle to determine what, if anything, connects Zara to the wide variety of characters that inhabit the story both of them are also struggling with their domestic situations. Ray has a pushy father anxious for his son to climb the promotion ladder added to which Ray and his wife have six-month-old twins, so sleep is in short supply. Ryan and his young son - also called Ryan - get very upset when Ryan senior doesn’t get home in time for Ryan junior’s bedtime story. Then young Ryan becomes ill and won’t speak to his father.

Set mostly in Oxford during February and containing a plot that is as intricately woven as a spider’s web, Lost and Never Found shows a town sharing the universal problems of homelessness, drug addicts and prostitutes rather than simply showcasing the usual touristy side of the beautiful old university town. This is the third in Simon Mason’s DI Wilkins mystery series.  There were signs at the end of the book that Ryan’s adversarial attitude towards Ray and authority in general might be softening a little and that the two Wilkins might start working, if not more harmoniously, then at least more tolerantly with each other – that is of course if promotion, ambition, personal circumstances etc. do not conspire to separate the two DI’s and set these entertaining and original characters off on another tangent.
Reviewer: Angela Crowther  

Simon Mason is an author of children's and adult books. His first adult novel, a black comedy entitled The Great English Nude, won the Betty Trask first novel award and Moon Pie was shortlisted for the Guardian Children's Fiction prize. Running Girl is his first story starring Garvie Smith. Simon lives in Oxford with his wife and their two children.

Angela Crowther is a retired scientist.  She has published many scientific papers but, as yet, no crime fiction.  In her spare time Angela belongs to a Handbell Ringing group, goes country dancing and enjoys listening to music, particularly the operas of Verdi and Wagner.

No comments:

Post a Comment