Richard and Judy Review: The Dark Winter – David Mark

Richard and Judy Review: The Dark Winter – David Mark

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“DS McAvoy should be with us for many years and books to come.”

Richard’s review

Some of these survivors of horrors past, destined to be murdered by a man in a black balaclava with “wet blue eyes”, seem to be totally innocent. Their dreadful experiences somehow seem to rebound on them, inexplicably. What have they done to deserve such horrors? And why is the man in the balaclava killing them now?

DS McAvoy has to find the reason – and the link between these apparently random slayings.

Tightly plotted, The Dark Winter has the perfect hero in McAvoy – a man who is well aware of human frailty, who deeply loves his wife and son, and who would never put convenience before principle.

A crime story in the best traditions of American police dramas – yet set in Hull, of all places – the motive for the killings is twisted and complex. It rests on the idea that justice is finite. For every person that miraculously escapes from what seems like an unavoidable, violent death, there will be a reckoning.

Yet can it be possible to somehow ‘reverse’ a miracle; a salvation; and replace it with another?

Is the deranged killer trying to alter the fabric of reality, playing God to serve his own ends?

This conundrum is at the heart of The Dark Winter – a truly original and absorbing debut crime novel.

To Hull and back? I hope so. DS McAvoy should be with us for many years and books to come.

“I loved it.”

Judy’s review

The Dark Winter is David Mark’s debut novel, and very impressive it is. Mark has been a journalist for fifteen years; seven of them spent as crime reporter for The Yorkshire Post, in its Hull office.

The word is that it’s taken Mark years to convince a publisher that a crime novel set in Hull, as opposed to London, New York or Los Angeles, will sell. That Quercus finally took him on is to it’s credit, as this first novel is strong and compulsively readable.

The Dark Winter is set in a bleak wintery Hull, just before Christmas. Mark describes Hull colourfully as ”A city on it’s arse, fighting recession and deprivation.”

The book’s protagonist is DS Aector McAvoy, a gentle giant of a man, deeply devoted to his little family. He is a man of honour and principle, trying to keep his head down in a police department full of resentment, rivalry and lies.

It falls to McAvoy to investigate a serial killer who begins to murder a number of unlikely victims – all of them linked only by the fact that they are all sole survivors of different tragic events from their pasts. These include the only man saved from the wreck of a sinking trawler, a girl who miraculously escaped a massacre in Sierra Leone, and a man who survived a domestic house fire that killed his wife and children. I loved it.

Press reviews

Here are a selection of the reviews for The Dark Winter

“The essence of David Mark’s The Dark Winter is intriguing”

The Times

“An unusual and accomplished debut with tight plotting and intelligent writing”

Daily Mail

“Fast-moving and tightly plotted, with strong characterisation and a likeable protagonist, this is an extremely promising debut”

The Guardian

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