The Dark Winter
- Quercus Publishing Plc
- Publication Date:
- 29 March 2012
- Crime, Thrillers and Mystery
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Detective Sergeant Aector McAvoy comes to Hull's Serious and Organised Crime Unit under a bit of a cloud, a whistle blower, who exposed corruption in some of the most popular on Hull's force. Conversations cease when he walks into a room, people are obviously watching him. McAvoy likes Nielsen. He’s one of the half-dozen new faces brought in six months back by the brass to try and wipe out the stench of the bad old days. The era that had both made and cost McAvoy his name. Nailed him as the copper who cost a detective superintendent his job and sparked an internal investigation that scattered a crooked team of CID officers to the four winds. Who managed to glide through the whole thing without a blemish on his written record. He’s the copper who did for Doug Roper, the copper who nearly died out at the woods beneath the Humber Bridge, at the hands of a man whose crimes will never be known by anybody other than a handful of senior officers who stitched his face up more expertly than the doctors at Hull Royal. He’s the copper who refused to take up the offer of an easy transfer to a cosy community station. Who now finds himself on a team that doesn’t trust him, working for a boss who doesn’t rate him, and trying to blend into the background while carrying a Samsonite satchel with adjustable straps and waterproof bloody pockets … I enjoyed this book from beginning to end. It is a police procedural with a difference. It starts with an intriguing case - a trawler man who survived a wreck 40 years before, goes overboard during the making of a video about events during The Dark Winter.Aector McAvoy is hard to miss for he is big.. The waitress surveys him. This big, barrel-chested man in the designer double-breasted coat. Good-looking, even with the unruly hair and broad, farmer’s face. He must be an easy six-foot-five, but there’s a gentleness about his movements, his gestures, that suggest he is afraid of his own size; as if constantly apprehensive that he will break something more fragile than himself. She can’t place his accent any more accurately than ‘posh’ and ‘Scottish’. She casts another glance over his well-muscled body, his thick, bullish neck, his round, square-jawed face, which, in this light, seems striped with the faintest of scars. One of the things about beginning a new series, for I am sure this is the beginning of one, is meeting new characters, and I think they are rarely as well described as these are.In the wake of the whistle blowing the Serious and Organised Crime Unit got a new boss: Trish Pharaoh was an unexpected choice and she is turning out to be far more assertive and feisty than her bosses thought she would. She too is an interesting character: a mother of 4 who tends to treat her team as she does her children.If you like police procedurals with unusual characters and unusual incidents you'll like this one.
First Line: The old man looks up, and for a moment it feels as though he is staring through the wrong end of a telescope. A young girl adopted from Sierra Leone is hacked to death in full view of the congregation at Holy Trinity Church in the center of Hull. Detective Sergeant Aector McAvoy is assigned to the task force looking for the killer and fully expects to spend his time manning the phones and making sure everyone enters all their information in the database. Before he gets fully settled in, the Assistant Chief Commissioner asks him to take care of a death notification. Although it puts him in hot water with his superior, McAvoy does so and learns about an old man who, forty years earlier, had been the sole survivor of a ship wreck. The old man had agreed to be interviewed for a documentary and was with the film crew aboard an Icelandic container ship when he cut filming short and went outside for some air. A few days later, his body was found floating in a life raft.The more McAvoy learns about both deaths, the more convinced he is that the two are related... and then a third death occurs, and the race is on to catch a killer who has a very singular objective. Well, at least the race is on with Aector. Some of his fellow officers seem more interested in a quick arrest than in finding the real killer.I slid into this story effortlessly. Aector isn't your normal police officer. He doesn't smoke. He seldom drinks. He loves his pregnant wife and young son to distraction, and they love him every bit as much. He's what his boss DCI Patricia Pharaoh calls "a natural policeman"-- somehow it's in McAvoy's blood to feel the links between disparate facts, to insist upon seeing the right person in prison for committing a crime-- but he's a bit of a mystery and a joke amongst his co-workers.There are whispers and rumors galore throughout the police station about McAvoy: that he turned in one of their own, that he's not to be trusted, that the only thing he's good for is answering phones and sitting at a computer. Then there's the matter of his size. He's a red-headed 6 foot five inch bear of a man who avoids using any semblance of force. There wouldn't be so many questions and rumors about McAvoy if the people he worked with knew more about the man, but they don't, so suspicion persists.It was a sheer delight to begin to put the bits and pieces of information about McAvoy together as the story progressed. He is a fascinating, complex character. The identity of the killer was genuinely puzzling throughout, and some of the action sequences in the book actually made me gasp aloud as I read them. (I'm not a screamer, and I don't gasp, so you can use this as an indication of how far into the story I was!)Above the characters and the killings, the atmosphere of Hull lies over everything like a grimy blanket of snow. Hull, a once thriving city until the fishing industry collapsed and sounded a death knell. Hull, full of history, full of hope-- and hopefully full of many future cases for DS Aector McAvoy to investigate. David Mark's debut novel has me hooked, and I want more!
My knowledge of Hull, a formerly bustling fishing port on the Humber Estuary, is limited - I made a couple of very brief visits more than thirty years ago, principally for the purpose of driving over the graceful Humber Bridge. I would have to say that David Mark's grim novel is not exactly going to send me scurrying back - throughout the book, set in the run up to Christmas, one can almost feel the piercing cold that relentlessly grips the city.The plot revolves around a series of particularly brutal murders that are investigated by Detective Sergeant Aector (a Gaelic forename) McEvoy, raised in the Scottish Highlands and come to rest in Hull. This is the first novel in what promises to be an intriguing series, and McEvoy already has a fair amount of baggage behind him. There are passing references to estrangement from his father, a crofter in the Western Isles, and also to incident the previous year in which McEvoy uncovered corruption among his CID colleagues which led to a the demise of senior officers and his own ostracisation. He takes comfort in his blissful marriage to Roisin, formerly part of a travelling community, and their three year old son Finlay. McEvoy is out with Finlay as the novel opens, with the two of them waiting in a city centre cafe for Roisin, when all at once they hear some screaming from the nearby Hull Cathedral. McEvoy momentarily forgets his paternal duties and runs towards the incident, only to be knocked to the floor by a fleeing man who, it transpires, has just killed a choir girl. This is merely the first of a serious of increasingly brutal and beguiling murdersMcEvoy is an engaging character - flawed, but not wrecked, and essentially empathetic in his treatment of his family, fellow officers, and even suspects. Unusual, but without the irritating quirkiness of far too many fictional detectives these days. I am looking forward to future volumes.
For a debut fiction novel this is a very good police procedural. Definitely character based as the main character McAvoy has a very moral sense of right and wrong, he is not satisfied with east answers but wants the truth. Has an interesting home life as well. Different threads of the story eventually connect and the trail McAvoy follows is not without personal cost. Really enjoyed following the trail and I did not guess the who done it. Look forward to his next outing which I will be watching for.
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