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Mark, David - 'The Dark Winter'
Hardback: 320 pages (Mar. 2012) Publisher: Quercus ISBN: 085738918

Detective Sergeant Aector McAvoy is a gentle giant who is captivated by his wife Roisin and their young son Fin. He is employed mainly in computer programming and admin at Hull CID in West Yorkshire. He has had a dark side however. He was responsible for a rogue detective superintendent taking his pension early. His bosses have kept what went on secret, so that McAvoy's colleagues only know that somehow he was responsible and don't trust him. The Chief Constable surprisingly did not promote from within (much to the chagrin of two Inspectors) and has made Trish Pharaoh, a married woman with four children and a handicapped husband, the acting Detective Superintendent. As a consequence there are two camps within the office and tensions are high.

A young girl is brutally killed in a horrific knife attack. McAvoy was nearby but failed to apprehend the murderer and the team begin to investigate. McAvoy soon realises that there appears to be connections with this case and two suspicious deaths: an elderly man who forty years previously was the only survivor when a super tanker ran aground, takes part in a documentary to relive the incident, and vanishes, to be found dead in a small wooden boat; a local drunk, who some years previously, was suspected of setting fire to the house where his wife and children perished, is himself found dead in a house blaze.

McAvoy finds that all these people, who have in their way cheated death, feature in a proposed book by a one-legged, alcoholic writer. Can Pharaoh and McAvoy find the connections and prevent further deaths?

The author was a journalist on the Yorkshire Post and this is his first novel. He brings alive the remoteness of Hull from the rest of Yorkshire and the financial decay of the area. The "land of green ginger" and yellow telephone boxes has long gone. Highly recommended.

I look forward to the next book. I suppose the author's dilemma is who takes the lead - McAvoy or the more clever and intriguing Pharaoh?

Geoff Jones, England
March 2012

More European crime fiction reviews can be found on the Reviews page.

last updated 24/03/2012 15:57