I’m somewhat late to the party reading Dark Winter, the first in the DS Aector McAvoy series from David Mark, but all good things are worth waiting for aren’t they? Dark Winter was the choice at my U3A book group this month, and I’m very pleased to share my review today.
Dark Winter is available for purchase through the links here. You’ll notice two cover designs as Dark Winter can be found with both, but I read the version with the eye so I’m including both on Linda’s Book Bag!
DS Aector McAvoy is a man with a troubled past. His unwavering belief in justice has made him an outsider in the police force he serves, a good man among the lazy and corrupt.
Then on a cold day in December he is the first cop on the scene when a young girl is killed in Hull’s historic church – and the only one to see the murderer. A masked man, with tears in his eyes…
When two more seemingly unconnected people die, the police must work quickly. Only McAvoy can see the connection between the victims. A killer is playing God – and McAvoy must find a way to stop the deadly game.
My Review of Dark Winter
DS Aector McAvoy has a new case.
Dark Winter is a fast paced, compelling story that I found utterly riveting. Gorier than my usual reads I round David Mark’s writing ensnared me from beginning to end because it hardly gave me time to breathe. Although this a police procedural thriller, it is pared down so that none of the routine of police work slows the pace of the narrative which is moved on quickly through snappy dialogue, making for a dynamic story. My only slight quibble is that I’m not sure if I would have preferred the story without the epilogue. That said, it ensures I’m thinking about Dark Winter long after I’ve finished reading it.
The depiction of Hull is stark, violent and brutal and yet there’s an underlying compassion from David Mark that alleviates the bleakness with an understanding of how a place can become so dark and how the people living there are affected. I loved the iterative metaphor of the snow running through this narrative. Vividly described to enhance the settings, it equally adds to the atmosphere in Dark Winter, redolent of covering over the truth, providing a cleansing, and melting the hardened emotions and attitudes of the characters.
The characters themselves are intriguing. Aector McAvoy is a man with a past and what we’re told within Dark Winter ensures he is cared about by the reader and yet leaves them desperate to discover more. Hector’s integrity, his flaws, his rashness and his absolute sense of justice make him so interesting that I’m delighted I have more books in this series to find out more about him. I found myself comparing him to Frankenstein’s creation as I read to the extent that I cared about the events that have made him who he is.
In amongst the breathless and dramatic story are some sensitive and thought-provoking themes too. As well as the vivid exploration of how teams coalesce and shift in allegiance, there is insight into PTSD in many forms, justice, grief, hope, family, habit, self-destruction and so on that I think would reward several readings. I raced through Dark Winter because I found it an exhilarating read, but I think that if I were to read it again I’d discover even more through the nuances of David Mark’s excellent writing.
I might be late discovering David Mark’s DS Aector McAvoy series, but my goodness I’m delighted I have so many books to catch up with. If Dark Winter is anything to judge by, I’m in for some dramatic and exciting reads. I thoroughly enjoyed my first foray into the series.
About David Mark
David spent more than fifteen years as a journalist, including seven years as a crime reporter with the Yorkshire Post – walking the Hull streets that would later become the setting for the Detective Sergeant Aector McAvoy novels.
He has been championed by such industry luminaries as Val McDermid, Peter James, Mick Herron and Martina Cole.
He has written eight novels in the McAvoy series: Dark Winter, Original Skin, Sorrow Bound, Taking Pity, Dead Pretty, Cruel Mercy, Scorched Earth and Cold Bones as well as two McAvoy novellas, A Bad Death and Fire of Lies, which are available as ebooks. McAvoy returned in 2021 with the prequel Darkness Falls, and new instalment Past Life was published on November 1st 2021.
Dark Winter was selected for the Harrogate New Blood panel (where he was Reader in Residence) and was a Richard & Judy pick and a Sunday Times bestseller. Dead Pretty was long-listed for the Crime Writers Association Gold Dagger in 2016, as was Cold Bones in 2019.
David’s Radio 4 drama, A Marriage of Inconvenience, aired in 2017. His first novel has been adapted for the stage and was a sell-out smash in Hull. He has also written for the theatre and has contributed articles and reviews to several national and international publications. He is a regular performer at literary festivals and is a sought-after public speaker. He also teaches creative writing.