I had previously read Dark Winter and Original Skin, the first two novels in David Mark’s excellent series about Detective Aector McAvoy. Recently – partly inspired by Lori – I went on a binge read to bring me up to date with the series. Here are all the books with mini reviews.
Dark Winter: Not great. It’s as if the writer was honing his craft.
Original Skin: Much better than the first book. The plot is the weakest part, but the characterization and the pacing is excellent.
Sorrow Bound: Someone is killing the people who helped save a person’s life. Why? Who? Then there’s McAvoy’s wife’s encounter with a criminal who turns out to have heavyweight connections. This is taking the heights of the second book in the series and going further. A cracking read.
Taking Pity: McAvoy is given a cold case to work on. Meanwhile, there’s an organized crime group with McAvoy firmly in their sights. This time around, the violence is turned up a bit. However, it works in the context of the plot, and the writing is smooth as silk. Great read.
Dead Pretty: Possibly the best of the series so far. It features McAvoy trying to deal with two cases: that of Hannah Kelly (missing for nine months) and that of Ava Delaney (dead for five days). As the blurb puts it, one girl to find and one girl to avenge. It’s all here. McAvoy and a bunch of terrific supporting characters, the atmospheric (not to say depressingly gothic) Hull backdrop, a good plot well told, and a constant desire to keep turning the page. Excellent.
Cruel Mercy: Second worst of the lot. It’s OK – far better than the first – but the New York setting fails to convince, and the plot doesn’t work for me. It’s ostensibly about McAvoy searching for his brother-in-law, Valentine, in New York. But it also involves several threads of danger that are linked to Valentine’s disappearance. The final disclosure is too obvious, and the general rationality of some of the supporting characters is somewhat suspect. Worth reading to keep up the McAvoy picture, but don’t dally. It’s not worth it.
Scorched Earth: The author bounces back, delivering a contender for the best of the lot. Is there or is there not a kidnapping? McAvoy to the rescue, even though he – unknowingly – is marked out for death. A superb crime novel.
Cold Bones: Another challenger for best of the series. McAvoy is involved in a death that sets him off on a race to stop a deadly killer who seems to be motivated by something in the past of the Hull fishing community. Wonderfully evocative writing, rip roaring action and suspense, and a fine central character. Brilliant.