BLOOD oranges were flavour of the week for a murder mystery book launch at George and Delilah’s ice cream cafe in Cowley Road.
Crime writer Peter Tickler was launching his new novel, Murder on the Marsh, which features an obsessive Oxford United fan who is in the frame for three murders.
Mr Tickler has become well known in Oxford for showing the “real city” rarely explored by Morse or Lewis.
A blood oranges flavour was created for the launch event and Mr Tickler said: “One of my characters buys an ice cream every day, so that’s why I held the launch at G&D’s. The action takes place in Oxford and some of the places are real, but there are others that you won’t find on the ground.”
Unlike Morse’s villains, his serial killers live east of Magdalen Bridge and the university plays no role, although he was a classics student at Keble College in the 1970s.
Mr Tickler worked at the Potato Marketing Board in Between Towns Road, Cowley, and his dead bodies pile up in places like Cowley Marsh and a fictional old people’s home between Southfield Golf Course and Cowley Road.
The murders are interspersed with United’s progress in the year they gained promotion back to the Football League. The plot revolves around the identity of a group occupying an executive box at the Kassam Stadium.
Mr Tickler, who lives in Abingdon, is a keen U’s fan.
He said: “I was reading classics, but went up to the Manor when I could. My top memories are of Derek Clarke scoring the only goal in a game against Manchester United, when he spun on the edge of the area and tucked a low shot into the corner. And of Hughy Curran scoring an outrageous goal from the right corner of the 18-yard box.
“I had a gap then, until I returned to Oxford and started to take my boys along to the Manor.”
The novelist also has fun with his heroes’ names, including a solicitor named Basham.
He is a volunteer with the Oxford mental healthcare charity Mind and his books often feature characters with mental health problems.
He said: “My intention was always to write crime set in ‘real’ non-tourist and non-university Oxford. That film The Oxford Murders drove me nuts. Also the TV series Lewis is clearly aimed at the international market.”
His previous books are Blood on the Cowley Road and Blood in Grandpont, and he is now working on a fourth. Blood on the Marsh is published by Hale, priced £19.99.