Tuesday, July 7, 2015






Taking Pity by David Mark (Blue Rider Press, 2015, 336 pages, $26.95.14.11) is the fourth entry in the Detective Seargeant McAvoy series. It continues the ongoing struggle of the police in the and around the old, degraded, and dreary industrial city of Hull in Yorkshire. The protagonist, Detective Sergeant Aector McAvoy, is recoveing from injuries suffered in the last volume, when he saved his grievously injured wife's life from the vicious and shadowy criminal enterprise known only as the Headhunters. McAvoy is a hulking man, uncertain of his intelligence and haunted by an only hinted at Scottish background that he allows to hinder him from reaching his full potential. Nevertheless, his ambitious supervisor Trish Pharoah misses him from active duty and reactivates him to explore a fifty year old murder for which a man has been incarcerated all these years. In his investigations, supposed to be a simple return to duty that re-established McAvoy's confidence and physical health, McAvoy discovers connections to the Headhunters which inevitably reintroduces him to much more active duty than either he or Pharoah had anticipated.

Sadly, Mark seems to have written himself into a plot corner that he cannot extricate himself from without tons of exposition. Dark, mostly unexplained (until the not very exciting climax) characters corrupt the police and terrorize other elements of the population while gaining shadowy control of the drug trade in Hull. Ambitious upcoming officers and sleazy men and women on the take or corrupted by their own appetites populate this story with too many unsavory elements that it's difficult to find someone, other than McAvoy, to admire. The extensive flashbacks made necessary to solve serious plot problems make much of the book a dreary search for sense. By the time I reached the end, I didn't care any more. The secret of thrillers is to make them thrilling, and of chillers to make them creepy. Neither goal is successfully achieved in this dreary exercise.

David Mark

David Mark has been a journalist for 15 years. He is the author of the DS Aector McAvoy series. He lives in Yorkshire.

Taking Pity by David Mark (Blue Rider Press, 2015, 336 pages, $26.95.14.11) is the fourth entry in the Detective Seargeant McAvoy series. It was supplied to me by the publisher as an electronic galley through Edelweiss, and I read it on my Kindle app.