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Mark, David - 'Original Skin'
Hardback: 464 pages (Apr. 2013) Publisher: Quercus ISBN: 0857389750

ORIGINAL SKIN is David Mark's second novel. It is beautifully written, dark and disturbing, with a delightfully twisted ending that was impossible to guess. Mark is a journalist from the Hull area and his in-depth knowledge of that part of the world makes this book even more avid reading. The brooding darkness in the book and the likeable, sensitive, main character, DS Aector McAvoy - a huge, clumsy, Scot who blushes delightfully at regular intervals - whose supportive wife doesn't shout at him for being late home, make ORIGINAL SKIN somewhat different from the usual police procedural.

The book cleverly intertwines two cases that the Humberside Police force is trying to solve. One involves some nasty attacks on people involved in the cannabis trade in the Hull area. Somebody is using a nail gun to attach their victims' hands to their knees, then burning parts of their bodies with a blow-torch to make them melt a bit and finally leaving them to die. Members of the local traveller community are suspected and this makes things uncomfortable for Aector, as his wife is a former traveller and he doesn't like them to be bad-mouthed without good cause.

The second, and more interesting, case involves Aector himself. He accidentally finds a mobile phone stuck in a river bed and, upon retrieving it and examining its contents, discovers it belongs to Simon, a flamboyantly tattooed young man who apparently committed suicide some months before. Aector digs beneath the surface and it isn't long before his hunch of foul play begins to be confirmed. His questions start to make people uncomfortable, not least several key members of the local council, but Aector is after justice and won't rest until he gets to the bottom of the story.

Weaving through both stories is the weather. It is dreadful and the almost constant rain renders Aector either wet or muddy or both for most of the story. This adds brilliantly to the general bleak atmosphere that surrounds our hero as he valiantly pursues his cause; muddy and yet undefeated, he adjusts his tie and keeps going!

In addition to Aector's ability to keep on looking for answers, and his close relationship with his wife, he also impresses me with his acceptance of people from a range of different backgrounds. He doesn't judge anyone simply because they are different to him. He also has a fantastic way of calming scared and dangerous animals. I am looking forward to reading more of his adventures in the future.

Very highly recommended.

Read another review of ORIGINAL SKIN.

Amanda C M Gillies, Scotland
June 2013

Amanda blogs at Old Dogs and New Tricks.

Details of the author's other books with links to reviews can be found on the Books page.
More European crime fiction reviews can be found on the Reviews page.

last updated 13/02/2014 19:21