Why should Oxfordshire have all the best murders? From the cerebral Endeavour Morse to the whimsical Agatha Raisin, taking in Midsomer Murders and the quirky Jonathan Creek on the way, the county of dreaming spires and rolling Cotswold hills has dominated modern whodunits.
Only two noteworthy attempts have been made to break a mould that has been hardened by the proximity of Oxfordshire to the television drama studios that lap up the scenic landscape on their doorstep.
Wycliffe reigns in splendid rocky isolation in Cornwall while Commander Adam Dalgliesh makes periodic escapes to his native Suffolk, although even he is really a London detective. Otherwise you take your choice: grim inner cities or leafy Oxfordshire.
Now I want to put Lincolnshire on the map and at the same time end the misconception that it just miles of flat fenland. Yes, there are fens in the south where the land has been extensively drained but Lincolnshire is one of the largest counties in England, stretching from the Wash to the Humber.
The rolling wolds, so beloved by Lincolnshire’s own poet laureate Tennyson, offer a welcome contrast to the flatlands, and the potato and cabbage growing belt is offset by industry and gas in the north. Seaside resorts dot the east coast and Lincoln itself is an attractive cathedral city.
Grantham in the far southwest is only just over an hour by train from London and the M11 and A1 provide fast road links north and south.
All that makes Lincolnshire ideal for a variety of murders and plot lines that I plan to exploit fully as my newly created fictional detective inspector Paul Amos makes his mark. He operates in the 1990s, before the era of DNA and CCTV when detectives had mainly their own deductive and intuitive skills to rely on – much better for a genuine old-fashioned whodunit.
First up is Dead Money, set in one of the many market towns scattered the length and breadth of Lincolnshire. Although I am better known in London as a financial writer with five books to my name, this is not about the City and international finance but about a typical Lincolnshire businessman, a big fish in a small pond.
I aim to reflect real Lincolnshire people and real Lincolnshire life in my stories. Who knows, perhaps we will persuade the film and TV drama makers to venture 150 miles up the A1 to find out what life is like outside Oxfordshire.
Dead Money, the first Paul Amos detective mystery