Written by David Mark — There are books that make you want to race to the finish. And occasionally they leave you feeling a bit deflated and cheated, because that killer ending somehow falls flat. Sorrow Bound isn’t like that. Instead, I found myself slowing, trying to make the pleasure of reading it last as long as possible. Now I’m done, I find myself still mulling it over. I think this is a book destined to stay with me for a long, long while.
Ever since I finished David Mark’s previous book, Original Skin, I’ve been looking forward to meeting Aector McAvoy and Trish Pharoah again. They’re an inspired pairing unlike any other in crime fiction: she the feisty, biker booted boss with a neat line in snappy retorts; he the introverted, complicated and somewhat taciturn Scotsman who likes to play things by the book. As the series progresses, I find I like them more and more.
In Sorrow Bound, Hull is in the throes of a heatwave and everyone is suffering in the oppressive humidity. A storm is brewing but it’s anyone’s guess as to when it will break. Tempers are fraying and there’s a sense of unrest in the air as McAvoy and Pharoah are called to the scene of a particularly gruesome murder. McAvoy receives the call in the midst of a consultation with a police psychiatrist so he’s happy for an excuse to leave early – until, that is, he sees the state of the corpse.
A middle aged local woman met her end while walking home from her late night shift at a nearby mini market. She is quickly identified as Philippa Longman, a well respected woman who ran the local residents’ group and had recently spoken out about drug dealing in the area. Now she is dead, her chest caved in. Is the death gang-related?
Before the pair can begin to put the pieces together, another woman is slashed to death on the other side of the river, and Philippa’s number is the last she called on her mobile phone. The deaths are linked and it’s nothing to do with drugs. Suddenly, the case has become much more complicated.
Mark is adept at creating a narrative with a real sense of place – there’s even a nod to Hull’s unique accent here, and as the city prepares to take the UK City of Culture mantle in 2017 I’m sure it’s no accident that the book contains a character who shares a surname with Hull Truck Theatre’s most prolific playwright, John Godber. The towns and villages of East Yorkshire also play a significant part as the action shifts, eddies and changes direction like the River Humber that Aector and his wife Roisin can see from the front window of their new home.
I’ve been fortunate enough to read and review both of David Mark’s previous Aector McAvoy novels and I think Sorrow Bound is the best yet. Series followers will love the way the characters are being developed, while newcomers will find the book a perfect introduction to Aector, Pharoah and Hull.
It all ends on a cliffhanger worthy of an EastEnders drum roll; as the weather finally breaks, there’s a domino effect of such high drama that I was left literally open mouthed. Please, please let book number four come quickly!
CFL Rating: 5 Stars