Dead Pretty

Written by David Mark

Review written by Jennifer Palmer

Jennifer Palmer has read crime fiction since her teenage years & enjoys reviewing within the many sub-genres that now exist; as a historian who lectures on real life historical mysteries she particularly appreciates historical cime fiction.

Dead Pretty
Hodder and Stoughton
RRP: £12.99
Released: January 28 2016

A darkly violent story in which DS McAvoy and the police team in Yorkshire must investigate some very unpleasant individuals, to achieve justice for some girls who have been killed.

This is a rough and hard world in which most people seem to shout, use foul language and revert to violence when feeling threatened. The descriptions of places and people are harsh, with far too many references to bodily fluids for my taste.  DS McAvoy is a gentle giant with a retiring manner which makes him refreshing in this milieu.  He has a feisty wife and a young family whom he tries to protect from the realities of his job.  Most of the police personnel who feature, have problems of some sort or another, but they get on with their work although they are frequently impeded by criminals, low-lives or their police superiors.  A girl had disappeared 9 months earlier and McAvoy is convinced that she is dead; suddenly the body of another young woman is found with some strange injuries.  Could there be a connection?  Are other bodies discovered, the victims of vigilantes, or is there something else going on?  The settings offer plenty of opportunities to appreciate the highs and lows of life that striate Hull and Grimsby, as well as in the Yorkshire countryside.

Clever twists in the story really open the reader's mind to a different interpretation of previous events.  Gradually the investigation of these crimes begins to show some success. The climax reaches even higher levels of violence and damage than had been previously achieved.

Though I must warn you, the whole book depicts violence and miserable squalid lives in the most explicit terms.  Though I could feel sympathy with the police protagonists; the harsh language is at times jarring, and everybody's got problems in this gritty and very tough narrative.

For me, most of the book is suffused in a blanket of misery, aggression and noxious fluids.  Everything is described in gritty, unpleasant terms that are the language of the dark streets that the author takes the reader. I think if I read another bit about long yellow fingernails, or balls of phlegm I might have been sick, though a vividly realised page turner, you do need a strong stomach to uncover what it means to be Dead Pretty.

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