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The Dark Winter (Detective Sergeant McAvoy) Hardcover – October 25, 2012

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Product Details

  • Series: Detective Sergeant McAvoy (Book 1)
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Blue Rider Press; First Edition edition (October 25, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780399158643
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399158643
  • ASIN: 0399158642
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 6.1 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #847,403 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Cops in the economically ravaged northern England city of Hull don’t know what to think of the new detective who has joined the force. Aector McAvoy is a veritable giant, and there are vague rumors that he was nearly killed bringing down a rogue cop and a contract killer. But in Hull, he is a shy computer wizard who silently wishes he could spend all his time with his pregnant wife and young son. Then there’s his name; Hull cops don’t know it’s a Scots spelling of Hector. But Aector is on the scene when a teenage girl is savagely murdered in Hull’s most historic church, and it is Aector who discovers that the girl and subsequent victims were all survivors of previous fatal tragedies. And it is Aector who must end the murderous rampage. First-novelist Mark shrewdly makes Aector an enigma for readers, too, slowly building the conflicted hero throughout the book. Equally shrewdly, he gives Aector a tough and insightful female supervisor, who, after puckishly remarking he should have come with an “owner’s manual,” ultimately unpacks her complex charge. Mark’s years as a Hull journalist, his descriptions of a blighted city “on the bones of its arse,” and winter weather that ranges from merely dismal to brutal burnish an impressive debut. John Harvey readers should take note. --Thomas Gaughan


Praise for THE DARK WINTER by David Mark:

“British crime reporter Mark’s outstanding first novel, a suspenseful whodunit, introduces Det. Sgt. Aector McAvoy…Readers will want to see more of the complicated McAvoy, who well deserves a sophisticated and disturbing plot.”
Publisher’s Weekly (Starred)
“[A]n impressive debut. John Harvey readers should take note.”
Booklist (starred)
“With a poetic intensity in its prose, an unpredictable plot and a Scottish detective, Mark’s novel gripped me from its opening pages.”—Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
“It will not be long until new voices in the genre are hailed as the ‘next David Mark.’”
“Fast moving and tightly plotted, with strong characterization and a likeable protagonist, this is an extremely promising debut.”
The Guardian
The Dark Winter is a promising debut by David Mark… certainly provides a trip to Hull and back.”
The Telegraph
Dark Winter is a fantastic debut of a police procedural series that takes place in northern England. Just as Detective Sergeant Aector McAvoy seems to be able to put himself in the mind of a killer, David Mark has developed his characters so completely that the reader can almost put himself in the mind of McAvoy as he is connecting dots that no one else even sees. McAvoy may be a gentle giant of a man but he is also determined to get at the truth even if his job is in jeopardy. Luckily, he finds a believer in his boss, another dedicated officer who also is fighting to keep her job.
—Nancy McFarlane, Fiction Addiction
The Dark Winter is an exceptional debut from an exciting new talent. David Mark is an original and captivating new voice.”
—Val McDermid

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Customer Reviews

The main characters, especially McAvoy (especially) and Pharoah were very well done.
I recommend this book to anyone who likes mysteries, especially to those that like British mysteries and detectives.
Contrived, Difficult to get into, unoriginal and far too politically correct for its own good.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By TChris TOP 100 REVIEWER on October 25, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Some novels about serial killers challenge the reader to discover the pattern that links the murderers. The Dark Winter is not one of those. The pattern will become clear to the reader about a third of the way through the novel. The police, who are a touch slow to see the obvious, figure it out by the novel's midway point. The more challenging puzzles are the killer's identity and motivation.

Detective Sergeant Aector McAvoy of the Humberside Police responds to a scream that turns out to be the last sound made by an adolescent girl named Daphne before she is hacked to death with a machete. Born in Sierra Leone, Daphne was adopted after her parents became victims of genocide. McAvoy would like to lead the investigation but he is instead assigned to tell Barbara Stein-Collinson that her brother Fred has been found dead in a lifeboat off the coast of Iceland. Fred Stein had survived the sinking of a trawler at the same location more than thirty years earlier -- one of four that sank during the Black Winter -- and Fred had returned at the request of a documentarian to lay a wreath in the water to honor the dead. Although Barbara believes that Fred committed suicide, we know from the novel's prologue that Fred was knocked unconscious and thrown into the lifeboat.

Fans of crime novels will immediately suspect that the two killings are related. The link will be clear to the savvy reader when a third killing occurs, and McAvoy eventually figures it out. The real question is the killer's identity. The answer, of course, depends upon unlocking the killer's motivation for following the pattern. In that regard, the resolution of the mystery is at least plausible (by thriller standards, anyway) and modestly clever.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Max Read on March 14, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
David Mark writes an intriguing murder mystery novel taking place in the region of Yorkshire, an historic county of Northern England and the largest in the United Kingdom. Mark was a journalist for some 15 years and had accumulated several tries at novels before producing his debut "The Dark Winter". In this work Mark creates his mild mannered sleuth, one detective sergeant Aector (Hector) McAvoy, a giant, timid, humble Highlander, living and working on an elite crime squad in Hull.

The underlying mystery in the novel is born from a coincidental collection of individuals who had survived an otherwise deadly encounter only to find themselves reliving the past as victims once again. The story unfolds as a seemingly unconnected series of events sewn together by a single elusive thread; with who and the why to be solved by the steadfast resolve of Aector McAvoy.

Mark draws an unusual character in McAvoy, one divergent from the standard stock of detective material. This characterization seems somewhat alien to the general nature of police detectives as measured by the take most writers harbor and while seeming to make a somewhat endearing character, may have gone a bit over the top; you will have to be the judge. Otherwise, the novel is generally well written, though long on many colloquial expressions that is sure to befuddle the western reader some. The story line moves right along and keeps the reader involved through the developments. There are a couple of good twists in the plot, although an astute mystery reader will find them lurking in the background and have guessed them.

All and all the novel is a pleasant read, engaging enough to keep the reader's attention and steeped in enough mystery to pique one's curiosity.
If you are a detective mystery lover, I would rate this novel "pleasurable - though not memorable" and would recommend it for your reading list.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Bookreporter on January 8, 2013
Format: Hardcover
David Mark is known in British circles as one of crime journalism's better reporters. His occupation at least in part accounts for the fact that THE DARK WINTER, his debut novel, is a remarkably confident and sure-footed narrative that is solidly built on equal elements of sharp character development and intriguing plotting.

Aector (the name is the Scottish spelling of "Hector") McAvoy is a detective sergeant for the Humberside police in the northern England area of Kingston upon Hull. He is a large, imposing figure, the type who can usually put an end to trouble, if not prevent it from starting altogether, thanks to his looming appearance. McAvoy's intimidating size belies a gentle nature, one that is more inclined toward mental puzzles than physical confrontation. In some ways, he is the antithesis of the driven cop one often encounters in crime fiction; McAvoy, even when on the job, would rather be at home, enjoying the company of his wife (who is pregnant) and playing with his preschool-age son.

Still, McAvoy tends to be where the action is, though more by accident than by design. Quiet if occasionally snarky rumors about him abound, including one concerning a serious injury that he reportedly sustained in the line of duty while bringing down a crooked cop and serial killer. Then, of course, there is the case that opens THE DARK WINTER, the first drop of bread down a quickly travelled road that cries out to be traversed in one sitting.

That opening case is the murder of a young woman at a church. McAvoy literally stumbles into the incident and narrowly misses being injured himself at the hands of the mysterious assailant, a man who carries out the terrible deed with careful deliberation but with (of all things) tears in his eyes.
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