Cold Bones (DS McAvoy 8) by David Mark

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Cold Bones (DS McAvoy 8) by David Mark

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Category: Crime
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: The eighth book in the series is complex and occasionally over complicated. It would benefit from a second reading.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 368 Date: January 2019
Publisher: Mulholland Books
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1473643192

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It all began almost innocently: DS Aector McAvoy was told by a concerned stranger that she and her son had regularly seen an old woman who lived in a nearby cottage but she hadn't been for a few days. Perhaps McAvoy could check that she was alright? No - she wouldn't go with him, but she'd tell him where the house was. And so McAvoy went, only to find the windows open on a freezing cold day - and inside an old lady was in her bath encased in ice. It might have been a tragic accident, but McAvoy suspected murder - and he thought that someone had watched the woman die.

As McAvoy investigates Enid Chappell's life he uncovers her links to a fishing trawler lost in the sixties. Meanwhile his boss, Detective Superintendent Trish Pharaoh is in Iceland investigating a mysterious death: Hull and Iceland have always had strong connections via the fishing industry. Aector's on his own (he's Acting Inspector McAvoy); well he's on his own apart from Slattery and he seems more worried that Aector shouldn't upset anyone influential than he is about arresting a killer and as time goes on it seems more and more likely that we're talking about a serial killer.

As I look back on my life there's someone in the news who stands out in my mind for each decade. For the sixties it wasn't the cultural icons but a woman called Lily Bilocca. Outraged by the loss of fifty eight lives in three trawler accidents she campaigned for improved safety. I have a vivid memory of her standing on the dock and demanding to know about whether or not a trawler had a radio as it left harbour. She achieved so much - and brought the fishing industry alive to those of us who had thought little of it beyond our Friday night fish and chips. Although Cold Bones is set some fifty years later, the harsh weather into which the trawlermen sailed is no different and David Mark brings this to life brilliantly. You feel the hardships and you understand why the industry creates the sort of men it does.

It's a complex plot: occasionally I'd have said that it was too complicated for its own good. As a police procedural it's unusual: it will be better on a second reading when you'll understand who's who and what's happening. It might also read a little more comfortably if you've read earlier books in the series as you'll understand the relationships and the background a little better. The series starts with The Dark Winter.

The writing is excellent. Mark is particularly good with description. Take, for instance these words about Hessle foreshore:

A place of muddy whiteness. Sugar and salt and dirt: all squashed between the concrete slabs of land and sky.

Characterisation and location are both good - just remember that you'll need to be in the wide-awake club to follow the plot and you'll be OK. I'd like to thank the publishers for making a copy available to the Bookbag.

If you'd like more of crime in Iceland we can recommend Quentin Bates' Officer Gunnhildur Icelandic Mysteries.

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Buy Cold Bones (DS McAvoy 8) by David Mark at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Cold Bones (DS McAvoy 8) by David Mark at


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