BOOK REVIEW: Scorched Earth by David Mark

David Mark is an established writer, with a number of Detective McAvoy novels preceding this one.

This book is not for the faint hearted: with a violent murder within the first few pages with minute observation to detail.

Mark doesn’t hold back to entrap the reader and I found I was gripped and connected to Detective McAvoy quickly.  I also appreciated the unusual relationship between the protagonist McAvoy and his superior, Detective Superintendent Trish Pharaoh. A strong woman, able to control her team and get results!

Whilst Detective McAvoy is visiting an old friend at a care home – a former police officer, he is told about some unusual behaviour and goes to investigate with devastating consequences.  He finds a body, literally plastered to a wall and has a feeling that a young girl was there under duress.  He gives chase but they escape.

Was there a girl or was he imagining it, did he really see her? No-one has reported a girl being missing…what is really going on here?

As the investigation gathers pace, there are many elements to this case: Another kidnapping, National Crime Agency surveillance of a police cover up, bribery and migrant trafficking.  How it is all interlinked?

I enjoyed the complexity of the narrative; Mark creates a large number of characters with different threads running alongside one another, which eventually become intrinsically linked.  This at times though, made it feel a little disjointed and confusing.  As the reader I found I was willing it all to unravel and make sense.

I did find the level of violence in some places off putting and I physically had to close the book, or walking away to synthesise the images produced. Although this was difficult to read, it shows how brilliant Marks writing is, to enable the readers imagination to produce such graphic images.

This is a complex crime thriller, which at times was extremely violent, but the narrative was compelling and fast paced.  The reader is given a great sense of desperation for both victims and perpetrators throughout the book, which intensifies the thriller.

Towards the end of the novel, I had trouble putting it down and found myself completely absorbed in the culmination which I thought was creative and exhilarating.

Scorched Earth is published by Hodder & Stoughton and is available to purchase here.

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Reviewed by Amanda Brightman

David Mark

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David spent more than fifteen years as a journalist, including seven years as a crime reporter with the Yorkshire Post – walking the Hull streets that would later become the setting for the Detective Sergeant Aector McAvoy novels.

He has written six novels in the McAvoy series: Dark WinterOriginal SkinSorrow BoundTaking PityDead Pretty and Cruel Mercy, as well as a McAvoy novella, A Bad Death, which is available as an ebook. Dark Winter was selected for the Harrogate New Blood panel and was a Richard & Judy pick and a Sunday Times bestseller.

He lives in Lincolnshire, and you can find him on Twitter @davidmarkwriter.


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