Quy books, or my favourite, Hazel Holt's Mrs Malory (Sheila Malory has strong ties to Oxford, with early books about visits to old college friends and to her student son).
During the course of this series Kate progresses (at least, in her mother's eyes) from being a single woman with cat (which seems appropriate for the genre) to having a live-in partner, and has grown closer to her rather rackety mother, Roz, from whom she had been distanced, if not quite estranged. The still slightly difficult relationship with Roz often causes her worry, as when Roz takes up with some very dubious and predatory friends. There is also a shady ex-husband whom Kate has never met.
In Oxford Menace, however, Roz is in the background (or more exactly, on the phone) and the focus has shifted to the family who are amongst Kate's closest friends, the Dolbys. It's a large family, with lots of fierce Oxford aunts, and those chapters which revolve around the Dolby household, with apparently countless children (their own and other people's) are a particularly strong feature - you can see that Stallwood has known lots of similar Oxford families of harrassed, over-busy academics living amid a clutter of bikes, wellies and books on the Woodstock Road. Apart from her old college friend, Emma, Kate is fondest of the eldest son, Sam, now 18, and it is to her he turns when his girlfriend, Kerri, is being targeted by animal rights activists. Kate, who is one of those inquisitive types I can't comprehend but enjoy as fictional companions, is soon poking about and asking questions, trying to connect a series of apparently unrelated events, and the investigation proceeds much as usual in these cases.
Now, I must make it absolutely clear that this sort of domestic crime novel is meat and drink to me, and I scour the library shelves, and the virtual shelves of Bookmooch, for further instalments. I'm beginning to think, however, that Oxford is as dangerous a place to live as Midsomer (is Cambridge safer, or have I simply failed to find a series set there?). Kate Ivory's immediate circle seems very prone to murder and mayhem, so that I do feel she should choose her friends more carefully - if I knew her, I would definitely be avoiding dark alleyways. Since we are only fictional acquaintances, however, I shall continue to seek her out, and anyone who hasn't met her will be glad to know that there are eleven well-constructed, intelligent instalments, complete with atmospheric Oxford setting and likable heroine.