*Many thanks to Rosie @ Hodder & Stoughton for inviting me to kick off the blog tour for Scorched Earth, and for sending me a copy of the book to review which I promise I will get to mighty soon! Equally, I would like to thank David Mark for his contribution by way of a guest post which without further ado, you can see below…*
The latest novel in the bestselling and critically-acclaimed McAvoy series is anything but a cosy read. Starting in the migrant camp of Calais before moving to a darkly realized Hull, it is a story of greed, revenge, kidnapping and murder. In a guest blog, DAVID MARK explains how this complex but compelling story came to life.
According to the people who know me best, I’m probably a bit unhinged. I’m impatient and inappropriate and I have a tendency to glare at life like a pitt-bull trying to get a Toffo out of a back tooth. Thanks, Mam.
According to strangers, I’m a pretty good crime writer, whose books are among the darkest in the genre, and whose plots are twisty and grisly and mildly operatic. And that I’m probably a bit unhinged.
According to the voices in my head, I shouldn’t take any notice of anybody else and I should continue to sit in my dressing gown eating Hob-Nobs from the packet and trying to stick the feathers back into a chicken. Sometimes, the voices aren’t entirely helpful.
We’re funny things, us human beings. We’ve got a lot of time for ourselves. We know we’re probably more evolved than apes, but they seem to have a better time. We know we’re supposed to be nice to each other, but only within reason. We know that some people have it better than others, and we think that’s sort of okay, but also that it’s not. We know that taking a life is wrong, except when it’s not. We know revenge is a terrible thing that does great harm for the soul, but we also know that rage feels less debilitating than grief. We know that the people in charge are lying, but that it’s probably best all round if we don’t make a fuss.
Here’s a new one for you. Did you know that the soil in parts of Africa is so perfect that it could be used to grow enough food to feed everybody in the world? That global hunger could be wiped out within a generation if there was just the political will to make it happen? Did you know that huge, billion dollar agricultural companies are busy buying up huge tracts of land from under the feet of villagers in Mozambique, turning them off their ancestral farms and building huge great plantations in areas that have been torn apart by civil war? Did you know that those companies who promise jobs and hospitals and infrastructure to the village leaders and rehabilitated child soldiers have uniformly broken their promises and left countless people homeless and facing greater poverty than ever before – all in the name of profit?
You didn’t? Oh. Neither did I until I read it in the National Geographic. And it made me very angry. I don’t like bullies. I don’t like unfairness. I don’t like rich white Westerners making a fortune by treating people as commodities in distant lands. It got under my skin. It stayed with me. I started thinking dark thoughts, because that’s what I get paid to do.
The article was accompanied by some splendid photographs. Mozambican villagers; their hard lives etched into their faces as if put their with a blade. I looked at those photographs for a long time. I thought about consequences. Then I started writing an outline for a novel.
Just supposing one or two of those villagers decided to take revenge. Supposing they went looking for the bad men who betrayed them. Supposing their vengeance brought them into contact with Detective Sergeant Aector McAvoy of Humberside Police; good man, police officer, and the only cop who believes that there is more to the brutal murder of a local gangmaster than meets the eye.
That story is now a book. It’s called Scorched Earth. It tests McAvoy to breaking point – as the crimes of the present lead him to a final violent confrontation with an enemy from his own past.
I want you to read it. So do the voices.
*It’s amazing how this kind of insight into a person’s- an author’s- mind can manage to get me excited about a human being and the way they think and about what they know. I love this post by David Mark. A whole lot, so I do! And I can’t wait to get stuck in the book…*
About Scorched Earth
The trainee detective assigned to the case isn’t so sure.
McAvoy thinks someone was being held at the derelict building where they just found a body pinned to the wall…and that all the signs point to it being a little girl.
But why would anyone not report a kidnapping? And how far would someone go to get revenge?
The case will test McAvoy to breaking point – as the crimes of the present lead him to a final violent confrontation with an enemy from his own past.
About the Author
David Mark spent more than fifteen years as a journalist, including seven years as a crime reporter with the Yorkshire Post – walking the Hull streets that would later become the setting for the Detective Sergeant Aector McAvoy novels.
He has written six novels in the McAvoy series: Dark Winter, Original Skin, Sorrow Bound, Taking Pity, Dead Pretty and Cruel Mercy, as well as a McAvoy novella, A Bad Death, which is available as an ebook.
Dark Winter was selected for the Harrogate New Blood panel and was a Richard & Judy pick and a Sunday Times bestseller.
He lives in Lincolnshire, and you can find him on Twitter @davidmarkwriter.