A ‘whodunit’ set in the university world in the 1980s.

It becomes also a ‘why-does-he-do-it?’ and a ‘will-he-get-away-with-it?’ as the devious killer is sought by the quirky Detective-Inspector Hooligan. Academics and police are often in mutual misunderstandings. There are satirical portraits of academics at their work, or, more likely, not working, and the reader may wonder if they provided value-for-money. 

The action begins when a severed pig’s head is bought from an abattoir. This is the prelude to a series of murders. 

First comes the bludgeoning of a professor of English literature … It seems at first to be an isolated crime. Then comes another – and another – and more. 

The dons are in an unseemly panic. 

The media can hardly conceal their delight. 

Detective-inspector Hooligan is baffled. Obviously, the killer ‘has it in’ for professors of English literature. And is intelligent, resourceful, elusive. And knows the university world. But until he is caught, his motive remains a mystery. And without knowing a motive, where do you start to look? 

Dogged investigations and intuition are the detective’s only weapons. And will the killer overlook some essential detail? Killers usually do … 

A murder mystery indeed – but also a comedy. Hooligan’s quest brings him into contact with many absurd dons – vain, bumbling, unethical, idle … ‘Murder by Degrees’ might have been subtitled ‘Bloodshed With a Laugh’.


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