So “Dead Pretty” the 5th DS Aector McAvoy book is out later this week – it is simply brilliant (you can see my original advance review further down the page) as they all have been so if you havent tried them yet do – if however you fancy diving right in, I tracked David Mark down and asked him to tell us a little about the characters you’ll meet within the pages – our returning main protagonists and a little about what drives them (No Spoilers) Huge thanks to him for taking the time.
The series is set around Aector McAvoy – tell us a little bit about him. How he came into being and what readers can expect from his personality?
Aector is about as far from your hard-drinking, rule-breaking maverick as it’s possible to get. I love the many books in which the lead character is a rough diamond who doesn’t let anything get in their way but having spent many years as a journalist, I can’t suspend my disbelief far enough to write those sort of people into books that are intended to be relatively authentic. Aector is like the detectives I used to know – family types who want to get through the day unscathed and hopefully make it home in time to read their kids a bedtime story. They’re clever, not geniuses, and dogged, not obsessive. Aector is, of course, the best example of his archetype. He believes that it is his job to bridge the gap between sorrow and goodbye. He has to redress the balance. He doesn’t think of himself as a hero but he most certainly is one to me. He ploughs headlong into situations that he’s scared of. He blushes when he gets nervous or exasperated. He tries not to get too big for his boots and above all else, he wants to hold his wife and children and keep them safe. It helps that he’s a giant Scotsman with red hair, muscles like a popsock full of turtles, and the kind of eyes that make people want to be better humans.
If you had to name one thing that drives Aector – what would you say?
Family. That’s the only thing he’s completely sure about. He lives in the same place that he is tasked with catching killers. He likes to think of murderers as an aberration; that if he catches this one, the world might not throw any more his way and he can go back to playing cowboys with his son and daughter. It hasn’t worked out that way yet.
Another mainstay of the series is Trish Pharoah – Aector’s boss but also his friend. Tell us a little bit about her, her attitudes and relationship to Aector?
Trish is the boss of the Serious and Organised Unit within Humberside Police. She’s motherly, affectionate, sexy and hard-as-nails, though I cringe when I have to explain her subtleties in a few words because she’s so much more than all that too. She’s basically the best cop imaginable. She knows how to get the best out of people – when to put her hand on somebody’s shoulder and give it a squeeze, and when to kick them in the unmentionables. She’s a mum of four and her husband is long-term disabled following a stroke, which he suffered when his debts became too much and his family lost everything. Trish has picked the family up and risen through the ranks largely because she needs the money and doesn’t like being told what she can’t do. She’s a bit of a legend among the detectives and it helps that she is more than willing to bite your fingers off if you put your hands on her. She thinks Aector is wonderful gets annoyed that she has feelings for him so she constantly teases him. She’s like a kid in the playground, kicking the shins of the boy she likes.
She’s obviously a very different kettle of fish – what would you say is the most important thing to her in her life?
Keeping going. She’s from a town in South Yorkshire and everything she has, she’s earned. It’s not about measuring up to anybody else or impressing anybody, it’s about measuring up to her own vision of who and what she should be. She allowed one man to dominate her and ended up with four kids and lots of debts. She’s utterly self-reliant now. Of all the coppers I write about, she’s the one who could most easily kill and get away with it. She knows that about herself, and as such, has a very strict code as to how far she’s willing to go. In the new book, Dead Pretty, she plays some dangerous games with that line in the sand.
Of course Aector would not be who he was without Roisin, his wife. Talk a little about her. For me she is one of the most fascinating characters and the one I relate to the most.
Roisin is everybody’s favourite! She’s only in her mid-twenties and she first met Aector when she was a youngster. She’s a Traveller and Aector – then a very young police constable – saved her life. She came back into his life years later and their relationship is the heart of the series. She adores him the way he adores her but she has a totally different idea about rules and the law to her earnest husband. She allows Aector to be what he must and supports him wholeheartedly. She’s also very astute and often helps him see things from different perspectives. On top of this, she has a deep knowledge of herbalism and gypsy medicines and superstitions, which come in rather handy given how much time Aector spends recovering from wounds.
Would you say that you based any of them on real life people you know or are they all entirely fictional?
Aector is an amalgam of a couple of coppers I knew as a journalist, coupled with a healthy dash of Rob Roy. He’s noble and decent and would die for a stranger, but his flaws are drawn from my own personal well. Trish, again, has a lot in common with a senior female officer I used to know, and is a swirl of the many strong, independent females that I’m proud to call friends. Roisin is a work of complete fiction, but I get emails and Tweets from people who think they were the inspiration so perhaps I’ve stolen somebody else’s personality and not realised it.
If you were to write a “spin off” book which of your main cast would you choose and why?
I’d love to write about Trish when she was still a young officer, fighting her way up the ranks with young children in tow and sexist bastards above and around her. But I fear that Lynda La Plante has rather scuppered that for me with Tennison so if I do write a spin-off it will probably follow Helen Tremberg, a Detective Constable who has managed to overcome some career-threatening situations to become a very competent officer, and who may be the only person who knows the truth about the criminal gang which has orchestrated so many atrocities throughout the books to date.
Thank you SO much!
About the Book:
Hannah Kelly has been missing for nine months. Ava Delaney has been dead for five days.
One girl to find. One girl to avenge. And DS Aector McAvoy won’t let either of them go until justice can be done.
But some people have their own ideas of what justice means…
This is book 5 in the McAvoy series and I’ve been a pretty quiet fan of it throughout to be honest, I have a little collection on my (one of many) bookshelves and when I got the chance to read Dead Pretty early there was just no way I was turning that down.
There is a peculiar brilliance to David Mark’s writing that just gives this particular crime series an oddly magical edge over most of the others out there – addictive quality in spades but also deeply fascinating character studies and a main protagonist to die for -the uniquely defined gentle giant that is DS Aector McAvoy. His personality and that of those around him (particularly wife Roisin and his boss Trish Pharoah) really resonates – you will be immersed before you know it into their world, where violence is often rife and walking the moral line is not always easy.
In “Dead Pretty” Aector is searching for a missing girl, resolutely and with determination. Then another girl is found murdered, a body is discovered on another estate – on top of that Trish is behaving quite oddly after her career has taken a hit from a rather enigmatic and intriguing recently released prisoner. This sets the scene for a truly riveting story, absolutely chocka block full of nail biting moments (I’m not even exaggerating I did really bite nails!) but also plenty of the more contemplative and thoughtful introspection that I’ve come to expect and love from this author.
Its a heady mix for sure for any crime fiction fan – and actually for anyone, why limit the field – they are intuitively done so you can start anywhere but also will be completely rewarded by reading in order, so take your pick. Having followed Aector from his first appearance back in The Dark Winter I am still completely in love with him and his supporting cast of highly alluring friends and family – with Dead Pretty David Mark has taken it up a notch if that is even possible so all of these come highly recommended from me.
And do hurry along another one. Yes I do sometimes wish there was a magic book fairy who could grant book wishes. This is one of those times – I finished this earlier today in a rush of adrenalin and a lot of crossed fingers for the outcome I hoped for – what I got was **redacted** and it was blinking brilliant!
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Happy Reading Folks!