DS McAvoy #8
police procedurals, murder, mystery, thriller
January 24, 2019
It's the coldest winter in Hull for years. When McAvoy is told by a concerned stranger that an elderly woman hasn't been seen for a few days, he goes to check on her - only to find her in the bath, encased in ice: the heating off; the windows open; the whole house frozen over. It could be a macabre accident, but when McAvoy finds a series of cryptic messages, he senses murder. Someone watched her die. As he starts to uncover the victim's story and her connections to a lost fishing trawler, his boss Trish is half a world away, investigating a mysterious death in Iceland. Hull and Iceland have traditionally been united by fishing -in this case, they are linked by a secret concealed for half a century, and a series of brutal killings that have never been connected. Until now - when the secrets of the dead have returned to prey on the living.
This is a haunting story that disturbs the emotions and emphasises the problems that a toxic masculine culture brings upon a community. Where fists are tools of the trade and used with abandon.
It is a tale of revenge and punishment in a fishing town, by fishermen and their relatives, that is carried to extremes by a belief in the righteousness of violence being the answer.
At times I found the story confusing, especially the opening scenes, as the various characters take their parts and lie with abandon.
But take heart any reader, all is explained in the end – and the very culture that spawned this way of dealing with life is now much more rare as certainly the fishing industry in Hull, and towns like it, is diminished, on a larger scale of boats (and thus less of a tight grouping of men), and more automated.
I might have understood a little better if I had read previous novels in the series.