Sunday, April 28, 2013

D is for The Dark Winter by David Mark

Today I am featuring The Dark Winter (2012) by David Mark for my submission for the Crime Fiction Alphabet meme. Aector McAvoy is a Detective Sergeant in the Serious and Organised Crime Unit in the town of Hull. At the time of year this is set, Hull is cold, dreary and bleak. The area is depressed. Not a picturesque setting. McAvoy is happy to have his job but he is an outsider. He is known 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 …
Two weeks before Christmas, McAvoy is sitting with his son outside a coffee shop, eating cake, and a violent death occurs across the square in a church. McAvoy rushes to the church, and collides with the murderer as he leaves the area. He is immediately involved with the crime, the death of a young girl that seems random and meaningless. He has seen the murderer, up close; although his face was covered with a balaclava, McAvoy has seen his eyes.

Coincidentally, McAvoy also gets involved in a case of man who has "fallen" off a ship while it was out at sea. His death may or may not be suicide. Eventually what he learns about that event leads to a connection to the first death. And others to come.

The crime solving in this book does stick pretty close to normal police procedures and the crime is solved through police work, although there is some element of luck and coincidence involved (as I am sure happens in most police work). McAvoy is just one of a large team of policemen working on this very visible crime. Because he has been relegated to a lot of thankless tasks since his whistle blowing incident, he also ends up doing a lot of phone call follow-up and grunt work on this case.  And some of this work does lead to clues to the killer.

McAvoy is a likeable character, honest, well-meaning, idealistic. He is humble, and doesn't believe in himself; worries a lot about whether he is making the right decision. He is a family man, a devoted father, worried that he is making his family suffer when he pays more attention to the job. But he is not perfect, does not get along with others easily.

My Take:
I liked this story and I want to see how the series continues. The setting, the characters, and the storytelling are all unique in some ways, but I think I like the way the author had the plot unfold best of all. I did find some of the occurrences to be unrealistic; the protagonist is in danger a bit too often.

I don't especially like stories told in present tense, but it was OK here. There were strong female characters, particularly Trish Pharaoh, the new head of the Serious and Organised Crime Unit and Helen Tremberg, the Detective Constable that McAvoy works with.

Overall, I found this to be a very good debut mystery, and I am hoping the author keeps up the good work, and offers us more interesting adventures.

The Crime Fiction Alphabet is sponsored by Mysteries in Paradise.  Please visit this post to check out other entries for this letter.

Other reviews here:
Mysteries in Paradise
crimepieces
In Search of the Classic Mystery Novel

14 comments:

  1. I bought a kindle edition of this book for a bargain price some time back. Thanks for the review, I look forward to read this book.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Oh! About present tense, i don't like it either. It is good to know that it is 'ok' here!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Valli, I am sure you will like the book, present tense and all. Reading books written that way still takes me out of the book sometimes, though.

      Delete
  3. Tracy, synchronicity rules! I just passed this to my wife yesterday and what she reads I read - hopefully later this month.
    I was lucky enough to secure a copy of the 2nd book from the publisher via a GR giveaway,so I may break a habit and read two books by the same author in the same month. Or knowing me, maybe not! Glad you enjoyed it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I borrowed this book from my husband. He read it first and liked it a lot. Lucky you getting a copy of the 2nd book.

      Delete
  4. Tracy - An excellent choice for D. I agree with you about books told in the present tense, but there are exceptions, and in those cases, the author makes it work quite well. I'm glad this one worked for you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Margot, I have been wondering why present tense seems to be more prevalent recently. Seems like I will have to get use to it.

      Delete
  5. I have this one Tracy - unread. Bought a long time ago. Glad to hear it's good and agree present tense isn't a big favorite of mine either but some authors do it well. Thanks for the review.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Keishon, I hope you enjoy it when you read it. Will be interested in what you think.

      Delete
  6. This book is popular on the blogs right now and on my to read list!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't know how my husband found it (maybe Goodreads); he bought it in November. After that I saw reviews all over the place. It is unusual for me to start a series when it comes out.

      Delete
  7. Finally, a cop who is a family man and a devoted father. I'm, of course, assuming he has a wife too, Tracy. Haven't read too many novels where the cop or sleuth is happily married. I guess it heightens danger for the protagonist significantly.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Prashant, he does have a wife, just as devoted in return. I suppose it does add to the danger, although if they go that direction too much as this series progresses, I won't be interested.

      Delete
  8. I enjoyed this one very much, Tracy, It was nice to read something different for a change. I'm looking forward to book2.

    ReplyDelete