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by David Mark
Blue Rider Press, October 2012
292 pages
ISBN: 0399158642

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Accompanied by a documentary film crew, an old sailor visits the site of a shipwreck that took the lives of all of aboard except him. In the night, he goes overboard. A man who years ago escaped a fire that took the lives of his family is set ablaze as he dosses down in an abandoned house. An adopted girl who survived a mass slaughter in Africa is stabbed to death in an English church - and Aector McAvoy, a survivor of violence himself, has come face to face with the man who might be responsible. He almost apprehended the man as he ran from the church, but the fugitive escaped into the cold winter night. Though the killer's motive is unclear, McAvoy notices something strange about his eyes: they were filled with tears.

McAvoy has a knack for connecting the dots, and he's the one who puts the seemingly unrelated cases together. Someone is targeting people who'd narrowly escaped death, who survived when others hadn't.

The most impressive thing about THE DARK WINTER is David Mark's lovely, atmospheric prose style. He infuses the city of Hull with dark, cold beauty. The ensemble cast of police working on the case comes to life through spot-on dialogue that jumps off the page. And the plot's not shabby, either.

McAvoy is a strong lead for a new series, a gentle giant of a man who came to Hull to work on serious crimes, wearing scars and carrying secrets from his past life. His character takes on all the clichés of crime fiction and turns them inside out. He's passionate and insightful, but careful to fill out forms correctly; he's determined to solve the case, but loves nothing more than to spend time with his wife and young son. He's full of contradictions, mostly because he isn't a standard-issue detective. One of his superiors tells him: "you should come with a bloody manual." Fortunately, in David Marks' capable hands, he does. This is a new series well worth following.

§ Barbara Fister is an academic librarian, columnist, and author of the Anni Koskinen mystery series.

Reviewed by Barbara Fister, August 2012

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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