Book Review: Darkness Falls by David Mark
DS Aector MacAvoy is apparently the protagonist of 8 books so far and counting, but don’t worry if you haven’t read any of them yet, because this is a prequel to the series. MacAvoy is newly transferred to Hull’s Major Crimes Squad after discovering the body of a young woman murdered in a particularly awful crime. The aftermath of that, the trial of the man accused of the murder, and the truth of the matter is what the book is about, as well as MacAvoy learning to navigate the deep waters he finds himself in with a boss who is far more concerned with public appearances than justice.
The book is largely told from the first-person point of view of Owen Lee, a journalist covering the murder trial, who starts out the book in a suicidal frame of mind. Things take a dark turn when Owen stumbles across a murder in progress - a drug deal gone wrong - even when trying to end his own life, and suddenly discovers when his life is threatened that he doesn’t want to die after all. It’s obvious from this point on that Owen is in a bad place mentally, and we keep delving deeper and deeper into his troubles as the story progresses.
I actually found MacAvoy and his relationship with his wife Roisin really fascinating. Roisin is from a Traveller family, and the Travellers and the police generally do not have an amicable relationship - we even find out that there is an asterisk in MacAvoy’s file and a note that his wife is a Traveller, and he comes in for some prejudicial treatment for it, as well as slurs directed at Roisin. There is a ten-year age gap between the two and it’s revealed that they got together when Roisin was just 17 (legal in the UK, FYI as the age of consent is 16) which felt uncomfortable at first, but Roisin has so much agency I actually changed my mind. She is unapologetic about who and what she is, and so is MacAvoy, who absolutely adores her for it.
The point of a prequel like this is to tempt you to want to read the rest of the series, and I definitely do, but mainly because I absolutely adored Roisin. I liked MacAvoy, but his wife’s the real star of this show. Too often Travellers are antagonists in police procedurals, and even if not actually villains, they’re frequently portrayed stereotypically (and negatively) but Roisin, her family, traditions and language are appreciated here.
This is a dark and gritty story, but as a prequel to a series, it definitely did the job of luring me in and getting me interested. Five stars.
Disclaimer: I received a review copy of this title via NetGalley.