The Dark Winter by David Mark

read by John Curless

Some genres work better than others in the audiobook medium. Crime is one of the best and we are always glad at AudioBooksReview to discover and encourage new talent. David Mark’s début novel The Dark Winter has justly won pretty much unanimous praise and is soon to be followed up by a second, which we eagerly await.

The Dark Winter has all the right hallmarks of a classic in the making: a solid, believable hero in Detective Sergeant Aector McAvoy of Humberside CID – family man with a moral past that sets him apart from his colleagues; a well-trodden beat full of local knowledge honed from the writer’s former career as crime journalist with the Yorkshire Post; a confident series of tense, well-thought-out plot twists filled by characters that come out of the page with the deft mention of just a few traits and idiosyncrasies of  personality.

In The Dark Winter, the opening is stark, troubling and full of menace: an elderly fisherman is found murdered at sea. In a Christmas bedecked church, a young girl - the last surviving member of a family slaughtered during the conflict in Sierra Leone - is hacked to death with a machete. A junkie, who fled the burning home where he had set his family alight, is found torched to death in a dilapidated council house. There is a madman dispatching survivors in what appears to be the manner they had escaped death.

Aector McAvoy (no H) of Humberside CID sees more in the string of killings than do his colleagues, who arrest and charge the first suspect to come under the radar. McAvoy, always one to go off on his own hunches, has to dig deeper. It is McAvoy who eventually discovers the truth and, at great personal risk, goes forth, alone, to prevent further mayhem.

Ingenious and disturbing: a truly terrific début.

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