Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

Dead Pretty – David Mark

Crime Fiction 4*s
Crime Fiction

So having read the first and the third in this series and even those two in the wrong order I was interested to see what DS Aector McAvoy had to offer in this, his fifth outing. I wasn’t disappointed.

The book opens with Aector on a family picnic, although he’s not fooling his wife Roisin who knows that he is trying to find the body of a girl who has been missing for nine months, an unsolved case that preoccupies him. But, life as a policeman never allows him to relax for long and no sooner have they eaten their sandwiches when a call comes in about a murdered girl.

What I particularly enjoyed with this novel was the multiple strands. A missing persons investigation and a murder would be enough for most crime writers to handle, but no we also have Reuben Hollow who has been released from prison, put away by Aector’s boss, Trish Pharaoh, on what appears to be false evidence, and who is now political dynamite as a result. With Pharaoh looking as if she is going to be hung out to dry Aector’s natural protective instinct goes into overdrive, but his boss seems to be changing; still feisty but drinking far too much and behaving secretively, he’s not quite sure what she wants from him anymore.

As in many police procedurals there are plenty of politics and rivalry between the teams as to who gets the ‘best’ cases although within the Special Investigation team things are relatively settled, just as well because the investigation into the murder is complex with leads taking them all in many different directions, none of them particularly good!

This was an engaging read and although Aector still comes across as a little too good to be true,, it makes a nice change from the gruff surly policemen that often inhabit this genre. I warmed far more to Trish Pharaoh in this book perhaps because we got to view her home life in a bit more detail and so I appreciated more of what made the core of the woman, and which aspects of her character she has capitalised to get on, both in her career and life in general. It was interesting to see some rivalry between her and Roisin, both women adore Aector and with one his wife and the other his boss, you have to wonder quite what is going to happen next.

One thing is for certain is that this is not a gentle read, the complexities of the plot coupled with the smart pace alone keeps the tension high from page to page and there are some fairly gruesome scenes. I thought I was fairly shock-proof but this book made me wince more than once along the way! I’m also not sure what whoever is in charge of Hull’s tourism thinks, as the descriptions of the city are less than flattering but there is nothing like a grim backdrop to set the scene for a disturbing crime!

I’d like to thank the publishers Hodder & Stoughton for allowing me to read a review copy of this book ahead of publication on 28 January 2016. I’m now well and truly motivated to read the missing episodes before book six gets published (sorry for those of you who think this is completely the wrong way to manage a series!)

DS Aector McAvoy series

Dark Winter
Original Skin
Sorrow Bound
Taking Pity
Dead Pretty


A book lover who clearly has issues as obsessed with crime despite leading a respectable life

25 thoughts on “Dead Pretty – David Mark

  1. I totally agree Laurel – tells you a bit more about the character. Well I was sent no.1, but then 4 came out and I ended up reading that first to be “up to date” – but it’s one of the books I’ll need to speed-read to review, although I do have some notes. I also have this one, and I bought no. 3 when it was a bargain price. So just no.2 to buy. – but it’s the reading order; I just don’t know how to read them!! Btw I laughed at that bit, going on a family picnic, and possibly stumbling over a corpse. I do agree Aector’s a bit too moral – that’ll be his Highland upbringing, I’m like that too! ;-)) And I’ve never come across an Aector ever, though a few Hectors….


    1. Haha – yes that was my interpretation of the picnic – I wondered how many Aectors there were wandering about, not many it would seem! I do like this series so will do my best to fill in the missing gaps….


  2. Ooh Cleo! You made me cry. You read them how?! I absolutely have to read a series in order. Other than one series which I’ve jumped straight into at book three and just told myself all the stuff that’s gone before is just backstory they would have been there anyway, but to go reading all around the houses, I’d have a meltdown… I’ve only read the first in this series. I have the next two on my kindle and this one on my bookcase. I really do need to make this the next series I read I think. I’ve just finished the Ruth Galloway series with Woman in Blue so I’m ready to run through another. And I love David’s writing.


  3. He is a bit graphic – but I do like the interplay between the characters. I’ve not only read them out of order, but I read the first one in German (the author had a spare copy of it in German and asked if anyone wanted it) – it’s interesting that Aector sounds much sharper and snappier in German and much gentler in English.


  4. It is refreshing, isn’t it, Cleo, to have a sleuth who’s not a drunken mess wallowing in dysfunction. I agree with you that with Mark, you have to be ready for some brutality, so I think I’ll wait on this one until I’m ready for that. Still, glad you enjoyed it, and I agree that Mark certainly knows how to build tension.


  5. I do want to start this series this year. And I suspect that I can acquire up to #4 here. Think I might have at least #1 and possibly #2. Yes, reading in order. Well, that is something I think I acquired with reading about books on the internet about 20 years ago or a little more. Before that, I just picked up whatever the library had available and didn’t worry about it. Didn’t even think to worry about it. Now, it is very, very hard for me to read out of order. I know about so many more books and authors by this point, but my ‘need to read’ list is truly frightening.


    1. I was the same, in the past I read the books that were available at the library and the reading in order really wasn’t that important – now for the odd series, like this one, it is down to books I’ve been offered and actually if the back story isn’t too huge it still doesn’t matter that much. Series I’ve started from the beginning I do tend to read in order though.


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