The Dark Winter by David Mark

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The Dark Winter by David Mark

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Category: Crime
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: Three bodies and it's just a couple of weeks before Christmas. Even when the police spot the link it's almost impossible to think of a rational explanation of why. An impressive debut and one to watch in the future.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 320 Date: March 2012
Publisher: Quercus
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-0857389183

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Just a couple of weeks before Christmas Detective Sergeant Aector McAvoy was with his young son in the centre of Hull when he was alerted by screaming. The noise was coming from the church and McAvoy so nearly caught the man responsible. He'd brutally murdered a young girl who had already escaped as the only survivor when her family was slaughtered during the conflict in Sierra Leone. It's a difficult time for the police with a relatively new team at the Serious and Organised Crime Squad and it's a little while before the links to two other deaths emerge. Fred Stein had been the sole survivor of the loss of one of the three trawlers from Hull which went down in early 1968. He'd been part of a documentary about the loss but had disappeared - off Iceland - in the course of the filming. He was later discovered - dead in a drifting lifeboat.

The third death was a junkie who had caused the deaths of his family when he set fire to their home. Someone decided to even the score - and when he didn't die in the house fire set alight his hospital bed. Who was doing this and what twisted reason could be behind it?

There's a sticker on my book which says As good as Peter Robinson or your money back. That's a difficult call to make. The settings are in the same county - The Dark Winter in a very real Hull and Robinson's Inspector Banks series in a fictional part of North Yorkshire. If you're looking at some of the recent Inspector Banks books then I'd say that David Mark very much has the edge. If we're looking back to the time when Robinson was at his best then I'd have to say that Mark has the potential to be at least as good but isn't there yet - but then this is his first novel.

Mark's been very clever with McAvoy. We know that he's been responsible for a serious upheaval in the squad but we don't know many of the details. Someone senior has lost their job and McAvoy himself has been seriously injured. He's not talking about what happened and other members of the squad regard him with suspicion. It's not a happy place to be. You look though at his home life - he adores his wife and young son and he's delighted that there's another baby on the way - but there's a nagging doubt even here. He's pretty certain that Roisin means more to him than he does to her and she's a spender. Sometimes it seems that she's trying to give her husband a makeover. You sense that there's more to come - a lot more to come.

This story's a good one though. It was difficult to see a logical explanation for what was happening, but it was there and I really didn't know what was going to happen until the final few pages - and they were real edge-of-the-seat stuff. I finished the book in a couple of sittings - I had to know what happened - and I'm keen to find out what happens next to Aector McAvoy.

David Mark is appearing at Ilkley Literature Festival on 2 October 2012 and this book came to Bookbag courtesy of the Festival organisers.

For more Yorkshire-based crime fiction we can recommend Grief Encounters by Stuart Pawson and Last Post by Robert Barnard.

David Mark's DS McAvoy Novels in Chronological Order

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Buy The Dark Winter by David Mark at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Dark Winter by David Mark at

Booklists.jpg The Dark Winter by David Mark is in the Richard and Judy Book Club Spring 2013.


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