Cruel Mercy

Written by David Mark

Review written by Andrew Hill

A former Customs and Police Officer, Andrew Hill is just putting the finishing touches to the first book in a crime series set in the New Forest, where he lived for 30 years. An avid reader across the crime genre and regular at Crimefest, he now lives in West Sussex and works in property.


Cruel Mercy
Mulholland Books
RRP: £14.99
Released: January 26 2017
HBK

I’m not sure if David Mark loves cooking, but I would have guessed that he might be an instinctive chef, rather than slavishly following a recipe.

Some might baulk at the number of ingredients he adds to the pot. Italian Mafia, Chechen (Obschina) Mafia, fake charities, the Catholic Church, a sprinkle of underground boxing, a dash of gypsy blood feuds, a missing brother-in-law, a mysterious mob lawyer and a healthy shot of New York City. But, stirring this diverse mixture is the not inconsiderable bulk of the ginger imprisoner, DS Aector McAvoy.

Whilst not strictly the sixth in the McAvoy and Pharoah series, Cruel Mercy is part of the canon and Trish does pop up from time to time, on the end of a phone or Skype call.

But this is really McAvoy’s gig, teaming up with NYPD’s Detective Ronald Alto to try and find his wife’s brother, Valentine Teague.

Valentine is a bit of a scallywag. A petty criminal and bare knuckle boxer, he has vanished after a brawl during a bout with a lot of mob money.

As McAvoy and Alto start digging, the friction between the Italians and Obschina increases. Bodies start piling up and a discovery leads the pair back to an old case of Alto’s that he’d been warned not to pursue. All of this plays against a New York City in wintertime and takes us from JFK, Manhattan’s Lower East Side and across Brooklyn to ‘Little Odessa’ in Brighton Beach.

How the author leads the reader through this intriguing, engaging and convoluted tale is masterful. He serves up a complex, high quality and delightfully seasoned dish, never putting a foot wrong. I felt rather like Oliver Twist at the end of this substantial and nourishing read and can’t resist asking, ‘Can I have more, please?’

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