Dead Pretty – David Mark : Review and Q&A for paperback release day


It is a pleasure to welcome the rather brilliant and funny David Mark to Northern Crime today, on the release of Dead Pretty in paperback.

Dead Pretty is the fifth in the successful Aector McAvoy series set in Hull. It is published by Mulholland Book and available to buy here, from 11 August 2016.

What’s Dead Pretty all about?

Meet DS McAvoy – Richard & Judy loved his first investigation in DARK WINTER.

*Longlisted for the Crime Writers’ Association Gold Dagger for Best Novel*

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…

DEAD PRETTY is the stunning new novel from one of Britain’s most original crime writers.

***Question and Answer with Author David Mark***

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’m 5ft 8” with blue eyes and a fondness words like ‘unctuous’ and ‘gorgonzola’. I shave my head and enjoy ham sandwiches. I go for a lot of walks and was Mr June in the 2014 Ibuprofen calendar. I was a journalist for many years and hated it. I’m now a novelist and write crime fiction, which critics like and hopefully people will start to buy in the kind of numbers that will allow me to put better quality ham in the sandwiches. I have two kids and lots of animals and I can’t answer questions without first going all around the houses in some desperate attempt to amuse.

This is the fifth in the brilliant series featuring Scottish Aector McAvoy, set in Hull. It was my introduction to McAvoy. I am planning to read them all and catch up on what looks like a compelling dark series! This series has come highly recommended by so many readers and reviewers, I feel guilty that I’ve only just discovered it. Well done on ‘Dead Pretty’. I LOVED how it all played out.

As you are a Yorkshire writer, why is your protagonist not from Yorkshire? I wasn’t expecting a big Scottish bloke, in a Hull crime series. How would you describe him to a new reader? He intrigued me. He came across as caring, obsessive and a bit odd. When I say odd, I’m referring to that scene at the beginning where he takes his family on a day outing to a potential murder site. That is unusual. I was drawn to him, in spite of that.

Thank you so much. And don’t feel bad about just discovering Aector. He’s very shy and doesn’t like to put himself forward. You’ve clearly got to know him quickly as ‘caring, obsessive and a bit odd’ would certainly capture some of his personality. He’s a giant of a chap, raised in the Scottish Highlands. He’s an outsider by nature because he grew up in quite an isolated area, though he’s not without his charms. He ended up in Hull purely by accident. I thought about making him a local but I feel that you can give a more accurate portrayal of a people and place by having that degree of remove – he’s an outsider, like me. Quite why he’s Scottish is a question for my deeper psyche. I just wanted him to be good and decent and dogged and perhaps there is something about the gentle Highland brogue that spoke to me. Either that or I just love Rob Roy. He wouldn’t see anything odd about picnicking with his family at a potential murder site. That’s just a good way to please his family and do something useful at the same time, which is the eternal conundrum after all.

I became really fond of Trish, McAvoy’s tough boss and the way events unfolded around her. I liked the way we saw into her chaotic home life and her unusual marriage. I am not sure about McAvoy’s wife though. Are those two characters regulars throughout the series?

They are the two constants in McAvoy’s life. Trish is McAvoy’s boss and best friend and she is in love with him in a way that she will never properly acknowledge and which doesn’t make her any more gentle with his emotions. She’s funny and sexy and hard as nails and I love writing her scenes. She’s also very representative of the successful female detectives I used to know as a journalist. As for Roisin, she’s Aector’s whole heart. He loves her to his bones and she adores him in return. She grew up in a Travelling community and has a very different set of skills and a natural distrust of authority, which makes for some challenging situations. Aector wants to please her constantly and she would never use that to her advantage. They really are very happy – they just keep getting sucked into grisly confrontations with serial killers.

Why did you decide to write a northern crime series? I don’t know Hull at all. It’s embarrassing. I live in Yorkshire and I’ve only been to Hull once in my life. Do you use actual locations in Hull and the surrounding areas?

Don’t blame yourself. Hull suffers from the unfortunate condition of being a punchline sort of city. It’s not deserved, of course. It’s a great place, full of wonderful architecture and great museums and galleries. But it does have a dark side which makes it a gift for a crime writer. I set the books here because I was here for many years as a journalist and saw the very best and worst of the place. It’s an untapped resource on the crime landscape. I would say 95 per cent of the locations are real. Check out the murder map on my website, to see for yourself.

If they were making a movie of ‘Dead Pretty’, who would you want to star as McAvoy? I’m struggling to think of many huge ginger actors. Do you have anyone in the back of your mind, as you are writing him?

I’ve always said that Rory McCann, who plays Clegane in Game of Thrones, would be superb. He has the stature and the same sad eyes. But if Tom Cruise wants to get out his chequebook, I’ll put up with the sort of questions that seem to be making poor Lee Child old before his time.

What’s next for David Mark? Did I spot you at Crimefest and Harrogate?

More writing. More festivals and book groups and creative writing seminars. There’s always something going on. New hardback in January, first historical crime novel out next year, stuff for Radio 4 – it’s almost as if I’m trying to keep the voices in my head quiet, don’t you think? And yes, I was at Crimefest and Harrogate. I hope I was looking okay.

Thanks! Amazing stuff…


My thoughts on ‘Dead Pretty’

Everybody seems to have read Dead Pretty and discovered Aector McAvoy for themselves. I’m late to the party. This is the fifth in the series, with well established characters all in place. Welcome to Hull noir, written by David Mark.

I don’t like starting series, mid way through. You miss out on continuity and history. I felt like I was trying to piece together who was who from the first page and slightly struggling. It was exciting meeting McAvoy and his tough boss, Trish, in spite of my initial confusion. They leapt out of the page and made me stand up and take notice. In Dead Pretty, a teenager has gone missing and this is preying on the mind of McAvoy. He even takes his family out on a day trip, to where the girl could be buried. He is obsessive, in his need for answers and determined to hunt for the truth. Another girl in similar circumstances goes missing, which intensifies the pressure for McAvoy. Trish Pharoah, as well as having the most complicated home life ever, is bizarrely making friends with someone she banged up. Has she crossed over a professional line? Will Trish and McAvoy capture a killer in their midst?

Not unsurprisingly I found myself loving the dark world created by David Mark and his crime fighting duo, McAvoy and Trish Pharoah. This is not a nice safe place. Violence, death and a beautiful harsh realism is the order of the day. Hull is not what you expect. Hull is not dull!

There is something quite endearing about McAvoy, in his caring and protective persona. I could easily see myself liking him far too much. He is the sort of bloke that you want on your side. Although I’m not sure I bonded with McAvoy’s wife. I’m not overly fond of too much happiness in relationships, in crime novels. Trish was just brilliant, tough and pretty exciting to read about. By the end of the book, I was cheering them on and gasping at the fabulous twists and turns. The resolution was spot on!

If like me you haven’t discovered McAvoy, give him a go! I guarantee you will be charmed, by the northern humour and the tough storylines. David Mark has the thumbs up from me. I must check out the rest of the series.



About Northern Crime

Reviewer with a mind of her own. This is a collection of book reviews, which started in 2014. Mostly crime and odd other genres thrown in. Some I loved. Some I loathed. You get the picture.
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