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Wednesday 26 November 2014

‘Original Skin’ by David Mark

Published by Quercus,
13 February 2014.
ISBN: 978-87738-978-7

So let's get this out of the way to start with. Sex. There - I said it. Whether in a loving monogamous relationship, a cynical marketing ploy to shift the latest thingamabob or as an illicit, anonymous thrill shared by strangers, it is part of our everyday lives. In the twenty-first century, we are encouraged not to judge others for their lifestyle choices. We live in an individualistic society after all, part of the "me me me" generation. 

However, the subtext for Original Skin is that we should be careful what we wish for, for where does such egocentrism lead? The author sweeps us into a netherworld of licentiousness, where those focused on their own sexual gratification are being picked off one by one. 

A young man killed as part of a no-strings sexual liaison becomes the catalyst for a series of murders that Detective Sergeant Aector McAvoy and his colleagues are investigating. So when Suzie starts text flirting with a man she found online via a classified ad reading "Dominant male seeks under-30 playmate. Must be up for anything", the reader's heart sinks a little. 

But before we can learn her fate, the landscape shifts to a drugs war involving the torture and murder of rival gangs, with the police caught in the middle. And when an officer is attacked by dogs shortly after a police van - filled with people - is set on fire, the situation becomes even more serious. 

Doing some unauthorised research on the side, McAvoy realises that one of a number of local politicians may be involved in the sex, drugs and violence that is spreading through the neighbourhood. All he has to do is work out who, and quickly, before they can kill again. 

There are many tangled threads weaved into the narrative, which features plots and sub-plots galore. The author skilfully creates a tapestry that, admittedly, does take time to reveal itself. Just when I thought I knew where the story was leading, more threads were woven in and each time that happened, it took some time to reorient myself and pick up the pace again. McAvoy's unorthodox methods make for an interesting insight into the personal life of Hull's rising police star as well. 

Ultimately, all the threads come together and matters of the heart, love and betrayal, as so often in the human experience, are revealed as the cause of great unhappiness. 
Reviewer: Joanna Leigh

David Mark was a journalist for over 15 years, including seven years as a crime reporter with the Yorkshire Post in its Hull office. Original Skin is his second novel featuring DS Aector McAvoy and is the follow up to the best-selling Richard and Judy pick Dark Winter

Joanna Leigh studied French and German at university. She works in the aerospace industry and is a chartered marketer in the UK. She describes herself as a voracious reader, enjoying genres as varied as crime thrillers, historical fiction and autobiographies. Joanna lives in London. She is the daughter of crime thriller writer Leigh Russell.

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