Friday, August 1, 2014

Sorrow Bound by David Mark - Book Review

Sorrow Bound by David Mark (Blue Rider Press/Penguin, July 2014, 352 pg, $26.95/$10.99) is the third book in Mark's popular Detective Sergeant McAvoy series. This very readable book combines elements of the police procedural with character studies of not only the intriguing and likable detective Aector (Hector) McAvoy but other members of the special unit of the Hull police department he works in and the villains of the piece. The novel follows two plot lines, one apparently a continuing line, which is quite satisfactorily wrapped up in Sorrow Bound while leaving the reader eager to go back to the initial two books for more background on McAvoy (without making such a trip necessary) and waiting for the next installment to follow the other line. That's how good series detective fiction works.

Hull is a dreary run-down industrial city on the Hull River where it joins the Humber estuary. There's a heat wave dominating much of the action, leaving the characters sweaty and sometimes irritable. Protagonist Detective Sergeant Aector McAvoy, who has a difficult time getting his colleagues to pronounce his name in the correct Scots pronunciation rather than calling him Hector, is a large, seemingly clumsy, stolid man whose look and manner belie his agile mind and analytical skills. The novel opens with Aector finding himself in department mandated therapy for some violence committed before the book opens. He's a person quite reluctant to reveal himself, while internally questioning what he's “supposed” to say while being eager to get back to the job at hand, solving the first of what will become several grisly murders. He's married to Roisin, an attractive and quirky girl of Gypsy background he rescued from a violent and dangerous situation when she was twelve years old. They have a child and are moving into a new home on the river. Strange mystery and violence arches over their background.

A woman has been murdered in a particularly violent and gruesome way, brutally beaten, her ribs crushed, and her heart torn out. McAvoy and his boss, Trish Pharoah, the beautiful and ambitious head of the Serious and Organized Crime Unit, begin the investigation. The personalities of the three women in the Unit are important and bear watching. The women characters and the criminals (mostly psychopaths) seem to be more carefully drawn than the male detectives in the Unit other than McAvoy. The murders continue, as the Unit puts together the evidence discovering that they're strangely related, connected to twisted serial murders that took place several decades earlier and pointing to a hospitalized psyscopath named Sebastian Hoyer-Wood. The nature and perversity of this connection becomes clearer as SorrowBound develops.

A second plot line, not resolved by the end of the book, involves a mysterious organization which appears to have muscled its way into control of drug trafficking through a combination of muscle, psychology, and compromising police personnel for purposes of blackmail. A part of this sub-plot works itself out involving McAvoy's wife Roisin, but there's still plenty of mystery left here for further development in succeeding episodes.

David Mark

Author David Mark spent more than 15 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. C

.Sorrow Bound by David Mark (Blue Rider Press/Penguin, July 2014, 352 pg, $26.95/$10.99) follows a police investigation in the English city of Hull, a depressed, crime ridden place in England's once thriving industrial heartland. It follows Detective Sergeant Aector McAvoy as he struggles to solve the crime while he copes with family and personal crises besetting him as part of his personality. His inner demons torture and strengthen him, as they sharpen his insight while helping him to become a better policeman. Partly because of good writing and partly because of an unresolved plot line, finishing the book leaves the reader yearning for the next installment. A good part of McAvoy's appeal lies in his not only being imperfect, but insightful enough to know it, and conscientious enough to work to keep doing better. I read Sorrow Bound as an electronic galley provided to me by the publisher through Edelweiss. I read it on my Kindle.