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Thursday, 3 March 2016

‘Taking Pity’ by David Mark

Published by Quercus Editions Ltd,
2 July 2015.
ISBN: 978 - 1-78206 - 317- 9

Taking Pity is a complicated tale about the work and lives of three policemen who are all struggling desperately to cope with their lot in life.

 Detective Superintendent Trish Pharaoh and Detective Chief Inspector Colin Ray are trying to mitigate the work of two rival gangs of highly undesirable characters who are, unfortunately, aided by widespread corruption in the local police force.  DS Pharoh is working legitimately, but DCI Ray is suspended from work for “slapping the piss out of some mouthy little prick in the cells.” Their work is not made any easier by the circumstance that one of the gangs is trying to take over the home ground of the long established resident gang.  Both gangs deal in the usual rackets involving drugs, gunrunning, prostitution and protection, and neither hesitates to kill or maim anybody who gets in their way.

Set alongside the gang warfare is a second story involving Pharoh’s protégée, Detective Sergeant Aector McAvoy, who’s described as having “ideals that are too painful to live by.” He’s on sick leave, and is mentally down as a result of being badly injured, having his home blown up, and being forcibly separated from his beloved wife and baby daughter because he annoyed the wrong people.  The only thing keeping him sane is his five-year-old son, Fin.

To distract McAvoy from his domestic problems, Pharoh asks him to check if a charge for multiple murders would stand up in court against a man who has been locked up under the Mental Health Act since 1966, but who has now been declared sane.

For me, it was the rich stream of well-developed and unusual characters, and the detailed descriptions of Hull and its countryside, rather than the violent plot that made this book so well worth reading. The two stories eventually merge in a chilling finale that leaves the way clear for the next McAvoy tale.  This book is well written and is number four in the McAvoy series.  It can be read without knowledge of the previous three, but I think anyone who is interested would benefit from starting at the beginning especially as I believe the fifth book, Dead Pretty, has just been published. I doubt it will be the last.

Reviewer  Angela Crowther

David Mark was a journalist for over fifteen years, including seven years as a crime reporter with the Yorkshire Post in its Hull office. He lives in Lincolnshire with his family.

Angela Crowther is a retired scientist.  She has published many scientific papers but, as yet, no crime fiction.  In her spare time Angela belongs to a Handbell Ringing group, goes country dancing and enjoys listening to music, particularly the operas of Verdi and Wagner.

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