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on 31 March 2012
I really enjoyed this debut crime novel and think that David Mark could do for Hull what John Harvey does for Nottingham and Chris Simms does for Manchester. I thought the novel painted an incredibly realistic picture of Hull as a city on the slide and you got a real sense of the atmosphere of the city in all its grim reality. I thought that McAvoy was a good grounded character without the cliched baggage that crime writers are so fond of shoe-horning into their books and that alone would encourage me to read the next in the series. I also liked the character of 'Pharaoh' the female boss who whilst slightly lacking the acidity of DI Steel in the Stuart MacBride books was feisty enough to give her character credibility. The central plot was quite clever with a particularly twisted killer targeting those poor unfortunates who had previously escaped death and there was a nicely balanced gore factor. Not a bad read at all...
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on 30 March 2012
I'm not a huge fan of crime fiction generally, because the genre can tend to be a bit one-dimensional and formulaic, so I was really pleasantly surprised by the depth and complexity of this story. I thoroughly enjoyed it from start to finish.

I can give no higher praise than to say that I woke up at 4 this morning, couldn't get back to sleep so I reached for the nearest book, figuring that a couple of pages would see me back snoring. 20 chapters later the book was done, light peeping round the curtains and my mind still racing from the concluding action.

The use of location and environment to give a huge dose of gritty reality, the refreshingly different main character, and just sheer storytelling ability lead to a really gripping tale. I'm reminded of the non-SF work of Iain Banks in a number of ways - although whether or not the author would be pleased to be dubbed 'Hull's answer to Iain Banks' is another matter!

I look forward to seeing the next instalment in what will hopefully be a long series, and am already hoping for a future TV adaptation.
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on 4 June 2013
Not a bad read but I felt I'd read so many similar novels before.

The misunderstood detective with a tragic past considered by his colleagues as ready to put out to grass.

A tired plot where the reader can see the connection between events early on, but the clever detectives (and our hero) seem unable to draw obvious conclusions.

A sound enough novel but hardly challenging.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 22 July 2013
I was looking forward to this on the basis of so many strong reviews. On this occasion, I can't go with the flow at all. I was disappointed by both plot and characters. The plot had potential, a mix of past and present. But from the outset, I struggled with the credibility of the main detective. His language, thoughts, emotional response, his introspection...none of it rang true in a plausible way. His idiosyncrasies, background and current situation don't gel.

It got worse when we were introduced to his immediate boss. A dreadful blend of Juliet Bravo and Helen Mirren. A female senior officer trying to be one of the lads, a mother and a flirty siren. No, no, no. This just does not work. There is no way, in the circumstances, that she would be sitting in a car, gripping the thigh of a junior colleague. The relationship is implausible and unnatural and when you lose credibility of the two main characters, it's an uphill struggle.

The dialogue often seemed contrived, with attempts to introduce humour, intended to be sardonic, failing. Hull felt unremittingly bleak and desolate; somewhere between hope and desolation but no half way house. This is possibly one of the most frustrating reviews I've ever written. I wanted to enjoy the book, but I didn't. I love crime fiction, but this one missed the mark.
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on 11 June 2012
I really loved the opening of this book and David Mark set the scene very well. His prose is wonderfully evocative and original and he sketches his backdrop with great skill. Unfortunately, because of Mark's skill, Hull becomes the book's outstanding character and the only one that rings true. The plot is both unbelievable and dull at the same time and guessing the perpetrator was ridiculously easy when we met him, even if his motive is not quite as clear until the denouement.

DS McAvoy (I won't use his first name because it became an unnecessary distraction in the novel) is also quite hard to take as a gentle giant. I know men are supposed to be more in touch with their emotions but a Detective Sergeant in a crime unit of any kind wouldn't survive for five minutes if he was as near to tears as McAvoy often is. At one point he almost faints so overcome with emotion is he. I mean, come on.

The other annoyance is the de rigeur padding of police in-fighting which spoils so many procedurals these days. I find it hard to believe a senior detective would arrest the wrong person just to score points of a fellow officer and even if it is realistic, it has been done to death and feels like filler for the thin plot. Overall a promising debut for a great thriller to come but this isn't it.
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on 29 March 2012
What a fantastic read! I have read many detective novels in my life but it's been a long time since I have enjoyed a detective novel as much as this one. It captivated me from the offset and I was totally hooked.

Having visited Hull on a number of occasions I was able to visualise the opening scenes with great clarity. DS Aector McAvoy was someone I just couldn't wait to learn more about at each page turn and after having finished the book I'm still left wanting to know more!

The plot had me on the edge of my seat and the ending left me speechless, it was one of those reads that stays with you for a long time after you've turned the last page.

An amazing debut novel and I wait in anticipation to read the next one in the series, David Mark deserves all the success this book will bring.
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on 19 November 2012
David Mark is clearly an excellent writer and in DS Aector McAvoy he has a character that hopefully will develop into a believable cop around whom a series of books can evolve.
However in this debut novel we have too much back-story and confusion that like his boss Pharoah says "People don't know what to make of you.....They can't read you." He is a complex character but I think more was said than was needed to draw a basic picture of him. Can't get the marital "love" - stinking of a women's perfume yet his wife knows he would cheat on her. Yet through his eyes all the female characters are seen as fanciable in some way. Loved Fin and feel plenty to build on in future books just overloaded in the first one. Perhaps this book was so long in the writing it all gushed out.
Amid all this over-writing of McAvoy's providence overlays a plot that doesn't hold together. The crime team seem clueless and all pulling in different directions. Suspects are arrested on a whim without answering to anyone, to the point where physically he could not have been the perpetrator fighting McAvoy the eyewitness whose statement appears to be ignored. The like a a motive and a link between the crimes takes for ever to drop and once it is seen, a confession is sought rather than seeking information from him as he must know the real killer.
Liked the book but overdrawn character and the complicated, not hanging together plot, spoil the actual enjoyment of the read. The warped thinking of the killer could sustain the novel if it was revealed differently in my opinion so I am a little disappointed as I recognise this could have been a terrific thriller of a crime mystery.
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on 21 January 2013
This is not a bad read but with a bit more imagination could have ticked a couple more boxes.
The angle of the old boy disappearing off the container ship off the coast of Iceland offered massive intrigue.
However as the story progressed the intrigue diminished. I just found myself wishing that there was a bigger mystery at play. I wanted the container ship thing to be the key to the story. To be wowed. I wasn't it played out rather predictably as you waited to see which person within the novel turned out to be the killer.

The descriptive element of a dreary east coast became tiresome.

As a new detective on the block I am not sure DS Aector McAvoy is going to cut it.

We are drip fed aspects of McAvoys previous troubles which leaves him where he is in the popularity stakes within the police. No Doubt this will be revisited in his next outing Original Skin in April 2013.

I have a long list of books I want to read and sadly DS McAvoy is not going to feature on the list anytime soon.

One final point to the author. Elements of the police procedure are factually incorrect. If you are looking to breakthrough as a longterm crime writer you need to address this as it will annoy people.

PACE 1984 is in print and will help.
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on 7 February 2013
I really enjoyed this book - but then I am rarely disappointed with Richard & Judy's choices. This was a great page turner, fast moving, full of interesting characters and a good plot. I was really surprised to hear that David Mark found it difficult to have his work published - so glad that he managed to get this one on the bookshelves. I also enjoyed the fact that it was set in Hull and the author managed to present a clear picture of the place and its inhabitants.

I look forward to reading David Mark's next novel.
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on 20 July 2012
Enjoyed the plot,story and the characterisation - Kept me turning til the last page,Hence the 3 .
Unfortunately Mark is vague about the setting and seems to only draw on the commonly held negative perceptions of Hull to paint the picture and create the "backdrop" - shame !!
Other crimewriters (who I guess Mark would want to aspire to)manage to include the good ,bad, light and shade in their work when setting the Urban scene ,so to speak
I'm sure he's been there but if his writing is the only reflection of his experience I'm sad
The majority people who live there will give you many reasons why its a good place to be !!
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