Title: The Dark Winter
Author: David Mark
Release Date: October 25, 2012
Publisher: Blue Rider Press
Genre: Crime Fiction
Rating: 4 out of 5
Detective Sergeant Aector McAvoy is an imposing man, but he prefers to use his brains rather than his brawn. When he’s presented with two baffling cases—the murder of a young refugee from Sierra Leone on one hand and the apparent suicide of the sole survivor of a famous shipwreck on the other—the police are convinced they’re open and shut. But Aector isn’t so sure and is willing to put everything on the line in order to make himself heard.
In The Dark Winter, David Mark brings the northern English port city of Hull to life for the reader. It’s a town that’s dying a slow death, that’s starting to reek of decay as the fishing industry is shutting down. It’s an interesting and atmospheric backdrop for this gloomy debut novel, and Mark writes it very well.
Aector McAvoy is certainly an interesting character in The Dark Winter. He’s different than many of the other police officers in fiction. He has his own demons, to be sure, but he has an inordinate desire to be a good detective and do the right thing. Those around him? They don’t trust him. McAvoy made a name for himself because he turned in a fellow police officer; they don’t know what to make of this gentle giant, a huge man who’d rather sit behind a desk than use his muscles. It’s really interesting to see this dichotomy, and though McAvoy remains shrouded in mystery through much of the novel, I’m curious to see where Mark takes him in future installments.
The minor characters in The Dark Winter are also well-written, for the most part. McAvoy’s female boss is particularly interesting. She’s sharp and witty, presenting a challenge for McAvoy because he doesn’t know how best to work with her. It’s fun to see him try to puzzle her out and it’s clear they’ll make a great team. One character who needs more development in Roisin, McAvoy’s young, beautiful wife. She comes across as a bit one-dimensional, but it’s for certain that Mark will continue to flesh her out in future novels.
The mystery in The Dark Winter is engaging and interesting. It’s a quick read, but Mark makes sure the reader is hooked from beginning to end. The identity of the murderer isn’t easy to guess, and Mark makes sure he has some surprises up his sleeve to really hook the reader. If you’re looking for an easy, atmospheric crime fiction novel that will keep your attention from beginning to end, David Mark’s debut novel is a great choice.