Oxford Noir

(Image courtesy of https://nisolo.com/products/oliver-oxford-noir)

When I googled Oxford Noir, I found pictures of black shoes. That makes sense I suppose. Then I started wondering what it would take to invent a new subgenre and have it appear on google so that Oxford Noir becomes crime fiction about Oxford, with Graham Dinton being its main exponent.

Perhaps Emma, my main character, is not dark enough or flawed enough. Noir fiction definitions say that the main protagonist should include self-destructive qualities. Does Emma have enough of those? Maybe more so next time.

Domestic Noir is a subgenre label invented by the excellent novelist Julia Crouch. See my post regarding lessons learned at CrimeFest. It can be described as fiction taking place in the domestic sphere with a challenging and somewhat dangerous prospect for the inhabitants.

So why not Oxford Noir then? It can be a dangerous place for the inhabitants at times too. At least in the world of fiction.

Take a look at Held to Ransom. Oxford Noir? You decide. If you do, surely Google will follow.

Cowley Road, Oxford, England

According to Wikipedia:

Cowley Road is an arterial road in the city of Oxford, England, running southeast from near the city centre at The Plain near Magdalen Bridge, through the inner city area of East Oxford, and to the industrial suburb of Cowley.[3] The central shopping is at 51.746°N 1.232°W
Cowley Road is also the main shopping street of east Oxford, and in the evenings it is the area’s main leisure district.
Cowley Road has an ethnically and economically diverse population. This includes significant, long-standing South-Asian and Afro-Caribbean communities, who have been joined more recently by East European, Chinese and African arrivals. Alongside these ethnic groups, East Oxford plays host to many members of the city’s academic population, both undergraduate and academic staff, and is home to many politically active groups.
Hence it is the perfect setting for crime and mystery.
Take a look at the special CrimeFest price(£1.99) for Held to Ransom(new price coming soon):

Where Emma meets Gary


Emma regularly meets her long-standing friend Gary in the churchyard near Saint Giles’ church in North Oxford. It is at the northern end of the wide road called St Giles’, where Woodstock Road meets Banbury Road. It happens to be a short walk from her office.

The church was built in the 12th and 13th centuries. Beside the graveyard is Oxford’s main war memorial.

Fortunately for Emma and Gary, there are a few benches around to sit on and the place is usually pretty quiet, so it makes a perfect place to meet and discuss the case.

Next time you’re in Oxford, take a walk and have a look.

St Giles’ church website
WIkipedia re St Giles’ church

Emma Hawkins

I’ve always liked the name Emma for some reason that I can’t explain as I don’t think I’ve ever actually known an Emma. To me, it has a sound of someone in her thirties, and it has a literary pedigree from Jane Austen. Not that Emma Hawkins is much like Emma Woodhouse at first sight, though there are perhaps a few similarities. They can both be considered attractive and high-sprited and both had sadness in childhood with the death of their mothers. Hopefully mine is a bit more likeable.

At this point I should post a photograph of her, but of course I won’t. Your imagination is important and although I have a picture of her in my writing den, I wouldn’t want to spoil the image you have built up from reading the book (as I hope you will).

To me Hawkins is a Cornish surname, but Emma comes from Thame near Oxford where she grew up living with her Aunt Hazel and Uncle Jack after the death of her own mother, Linda. Of course, there’s a story there which will unfold over the next book or two hopefully. Suffice to say, the events of her childhood have influenced her views of life and men in particular, and she has a close bond with friends from schooldays and a strong moral compass.

More to come about Emma. She has a few stories to tell…