The Burning Time

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Pub Date 05 Dec 2023 | Archive Date 30 Nov 2023

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A quiet town. A horrible incident. Things that don't add up. - The highly-anticipated latest instalment of the DS McAvoy series from the Sunday Times best-selling, Kindle chart-topping author.

"[A] dark, creepy, twisted mystery that will keep readers awake far into the night" Booklist Starred Review

"McAvoy is a true original" Mick Herron

An unexpected invite to his estranged mother's surprise birthday party at a fancy Durham hotel gives DI Aector McAvoy and his wife Roisin a chance for a well-deserved holiday. Off-duty, and still recovering from his previous injuries, McAvoy is determined to take advantage of the all-expenses-paid break, despite the old grudges and thick tension between himself and his step-family.

However, what should have been a relaxing, if awkward, getaway weekend turns out to be a full-on nightmare, when McAvoy finds himself in the middle of a town drama that involves the tragic demise of Ishmael Piper, a rock star's millionaire son . . . and best friend of McAvoy's charming, bullying step-brother.

With dark secrets slowly unravelling, McAvoy needs to put his personal issues aside to unmask the evil forces behind Ishmael's mysterious death before he becomes a victim of them himself . . .

Dark settings, dark crimes and even darker souls - the critically acclaimed DS McAvoy police procedural series is a perfect pick for fans of Denise Mina, Val McDermid and Peter Robinson.

A quiet town. A horrible incident. Things that don't add up. - The highly-anticipated latest instalment of the DS McAvoy series from the Sunday Times best-selling, Kindle chart-topping author.


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ISBN 9781448309399
PRICE $29.99 (USD)

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Average rating from 30 members

Featured Reviews

I have read several of the books in this series. These are always solid, enjoyable stories with detective Hector McAvoy and his wife Roisin. This one focused on a murder connected to Hector’s (Aector) stepfamily. We learn a lot more about the past experiences that shaped him in this story. His mom marries into a wealthy family and his treatment by said family has left Hector very insecure.

I don’t know if it has been a while or this one was a bit darker but some of it I just did a speed read when some of the torture was described. It was not for the faint of heart.

The ending tied it all together neatly and was very plausible. Most of the characters are so unlikeable it really could have been anyone.

Thank you to the author, the publisher and Netgalley for an ARC to read and review. All in all, it was a satisfying read and I know I will continue the series when the next one comes out.

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Thank you Severn House and NetGalley for the eARC.
DS Aector MacAvoy and his wife Roisin are on a quick trip to visit Aector's family, an occasion he's dreading. He quickly realizes they only want him there to find a killer.
We learn about Aector's terrible childhood, which explains a lot about him. Roisin has a large presence in the story which was enjoyable.
The beginning of the story was great, featuring the murdered man and his little girl. Much.of the theme had to do with the black arts, which at times was disturbing (I skimmed those parts).
A good read, definitely recommended, but please go easy on Aector's poor body in the following book!

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The Aector McAvoy series continues on. There was a time a few books ago I thought it was time for Aector to retire but alas he continues.

David Mark is a fabulously unique writer, as is Aector in character; I don’t think there any other quite like this team.

A book that adds more flesh to Aector’s past, full of mystic and black magic. It’s a book for the McAvoy purists as it’s the first book that really focuses on him but also Roision and their relationship with no Trish Pharoah to speak of.

It’s a bit weird, strange and as ever David Mark likes to use 5 words when one is sufficient but the words and he uses them are sublime and never wasted.

As a note to the publisher- Severn House - you have an author on your hands who will write you bestsellers, please stop pricing your books so prohibitively - £21 for a kindle book is simply not going to generate sales and it alienates a massive audience.

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Wow what a book thank you ever so much for the opportunity to review. I could not put it down. Would definitely recommend to others

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With thanks to Severn House and the author and Netgalley for this advanced readers copy. This is the first Aector McAvoy story I have read so did not have any preconceptions about the story. McAvoy travels to attend a family party when he and his wife get caught up in a murder. The first chapter made me think of Edgar Allen Poe with its tone. Subsequent chapters swoop all over the place with their tone. That said if was an engrossing story although the fact I have not read previous books made it harder for me to understand the main character McAvoy. It was an engrossing book if a bit dark for me and I prefer slightly less description of violence and bad language. I would still recommend this book to lovers of police procedural.

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I would like to thank Netgalley and Severn House Publishers for an advance copy of The Burning Time, the twelfth novel to feature newly minted DI Aector McAvoy of Humberside Police.

Roísin accepts an invitation to Aector’s estranged mother’s seventieth birthday party in County Durham. She thinks that they need a luxury break, but it doesn’t turn out that way as Aector gets involuntarily involved in the strange death of Ishmael Pope, son of a millionaire rockstar and best friend of Aector’s estranged stepbrother, Felix Darling.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Burning Time, which has the trappings of the esoteric, but a more mundane motive. I’m not given to awarding 5 stars, as I like to save that for the special reads that I don’t want to put down and rush back to if I have to leave it. This is one of those reads. It has a bit of everything, interesting plot, twists, strange characters, annother beating and a further look at Aector and his troubled personality.

Ishmael Pope is dead and his house burned down. Accident or murder, no one is quite sure, although Felix is sure it is murder and he has the means and influence to insist on an investigation. Aector suspects Felix is behind his invitation with the aim of coercing him into investigating and he’s not happy. Events overtake him and he ends up involved. There is a real sense of nebulousness in this novel, where nothing is clear, right down to doubt that his mother will turn up for the party. What comes through is the damage done to Aector in his childhood and the love he and Roísin share,

There is a lot of talk about witchcraft and spells in this novel. Ishmael may have had an interest and one of his girlfriends definitely did, as did one of the suspects. When the author gets down to business it’s all about motive and opportunity and it’s Roísin leading the charge. I was glued to the pages, falling for the misdirection and loving the twists.

The Burning Time is a good read that I have no hesitation in recommending.

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Newly promoted DI Aector Mc Avoy is a fascinating character, I think I love him! I really enjoyed this book despite it being a bit confusing to start with. The formatting didn't really help, with too many words being crammed on to each page. That aside, the plotting was centred around the paranormal, a touch of the occult and some witchcraft. There are some graphic scenes of violence but I absolutely loved the rollercoaster ride and would recommend the read to fans of the genre. Thanks to Net Galley for my ARC.

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If you’ve visited this blog before, you may know that I’m a big fan of David Mark’s writing. So much so that I aim to read everything he writes. It is visceral, this writing, can be downright gory at times, often medieval in its violence, but mainly it makes you feel – rips your emotions apart and then pummels them around a lot while telling you his story. The Burning Time is no exception.

The Burning Time is very much a part of Aector’s personal story. He’s finally been promoted to D.I. and, against his better judgement, he has allowed Roisin – whom he can never resist – to persuade him into attending his mother, Celia’s surprise 70th birthday party at a posh Durham Hotel. It’s an all-expenses paid trip but Aector doesn’t like his family – and we are about to find out why.

David Mark pulls us into a dark, charged environment where nothing is quite as it seems and no-one is who they want the world to see them as.

Aector’s step-brother Felix is the host at this surprise birthday party and as Aector and Roisin arrive at their hotel, Aector knows he’s really not looking forward to any of it. He doesn’t like his family and the reasons for that become clear as the book progresses.

It doesn’t take too long before Aector discovers that Felix has an ulterior motive for inviting Aector to stay, but even before that comes to light Aector meets seven year old Delilah, a disfigured child who was badly burnt when her father Ishmael, died in a terrible fire.

How McAvoy deals with Delilah is heart-breaking and sincere. Here is a six and a half foot man at his most tender and it is this encounter, more than anything else that happens, that lets you understand the kind of man that Aector is.

Ishmael Piper was a close friend of Felix and the son of internationally renowned rock legend Moose Piper. He lived in a fug of drugs with Delilah and his partner, Heloise, when he and Heloise were burnt to death. Delilh escaped, but with the difigurement that now scars her face.

Big Harry, a local hotel worker, tells McAvoy how devastated Felix was and is about Ishmael’s death. Felix thinks it may have been a deliberate killing, because Ishmael had inherited his father’s money and was forever promising people that he would remember them in his will.

Against his better judgement, McAvoy is drawn into looking at this case. Meanwhile, we are made aware of other, very disturbing events. Somewhere, a man is slowly and deliberately killing a woman, believing her to be possessed of demonic spirits.

At the same time Felix’s daughter, Petra is making out with the local drug dealer, Deon and Felix is less than delighted.

A multi-faceted story line is threaded through with the personal details that show us exactly how McAvoy became the man he is today and why Roisin is exactly the right woman for him. Because when you strip this story down, what you are left with, is a strong and deeply affecting love story that you know is the kind of love that will hold against tempests, wars and any number of rampaging serial killers.

The Burning Time is a dark and often violent read and the characters portrayed are vivid and memorable. It’s a very well told story of murder, madness and greed and I enjoyed it for all those reasons. But what I take away from it is quite different; that is the abiding power of the love between Aector and Roisin; two people who belong together more than should be possible.

It’s that love that makes McAvoy fight when things are at their bleakest; it’s what keeps him alive when death is on his doorstep. I envy him.

Verdict: With excellent storytelling, great characters and a twisty, violent plot, this is another terrific read from David Mark. But that love story – just remarkable.

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Another gritty, solidy, and gripping mystery in this excellent series. Twisty, full of surprises and a unexpected solution.
Loved it
Highly recommended.
Many thanks to the publisher for this ARC, all opinions are mine

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Families, memories and mayhem!

Strap on your seatbelt and be prepared for a wild ride. Witchcraft and murder greet DS Aector McAvoy and his wife Roisin when they roll into Weardale Village, County Durham, for an all expenses paid time for his estranged mother’s 70th birthday
McCovey is recovering from injuries dealt to him in his last case. His partner DSU Trish Pharaoh is recovering in Taormina, Sicily. They’ve been off for three months
Aector’s gypsy wife Roisin is scared for him. Not on the physical level but the emotional level. Aector’s going to be going into enemy territory. His step-brother Felix bullied and abused him as a kid, boarding school with the upper eschelons finished him off.
Twists, turns, and family challenges dog McAvoy’s steps. Steps that become more intuition and gut feeling than anything else.
Aector is a caring, listening and compassionate soul, aptly demonstrated when he lies in the dirt with the seven year old child Delilah, who had been badly burned the night her father died. He lies on the opposite side of Ishmael’s grave that night talking to her. It’s raining. Delilah has gone to talk to her father. McAvoy doesn’t chastise her or startle her but lies with her and listens.
Complex and disturbing, the story explores old, hurtful and harsh memories for McCavoy. There’s a missing policewoman DI Kate Seville, and a crazed local, Leonard Nightingale. The big question becomes whether Ishmael’s death was suicide or murder.
An almost gothic, satisfying read!

A SeVern House ARC via NetGalley.
Many thanks to the author and publisher.
(Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.)

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‘Call him Ishmael.’

An unexpected invitation. A horrible incident. DI Aector McAvoy receives the first and becomes caught up in the second. Aector and his wife Roísin are invited to his estranged mother’s surprise 70th birthday party. As the birthday party surprise involves an all-expenses paid stay at a fancy hotel in Durham, Aector accepts. There’s history there: Aector has never got on with his stepfamily, and there seem to be grudges held on both sides. But this trip will not be the relaxing holiday Aector and Roísin were hoping for. Not long after their arrival they become caught up in the death of Ishmael Piper, millionaire son of rockstar Moose Piper and best friend of Aector’s stepbrother Felix Darling.

Ishmael’s house burned down with him inside. Was Ishmael’s death a tragic accident or was he murdered? The town seems divided between those who think Ishmael was murdered (and plenty of opinions as to who) and those who see his death as an unfortunate but inevitable accident.

There is nothing straightforward in this case. Aector himself is in danger, there are several weird characters, a hint or two of witchcraft and several twists in the tale. At various stages I thought it unlikely that there would be a thirteenth instalment in this series (I hope there is). I should have had more confidence in both Aector and his indomitable wife, Roísin.

A terrific addition to a fine series!

Note: My thanks to NetGalley and Severn House for providing me with a free electronic copy of this book for review purposes.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith

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This is more of a book that might have been for Halloween reading, with its darkness of family secrets, family backstabbing, family secrets: just general gothic otherness. While a police procedural it's also a look at family Dynamics and the secrets that we tell in the reasons why we don't share them. It's an interesting look at McAvoy's family and how he grew up, and why he is the way he is because of that. For those who love the series, this is a must read for those new to it. Stay with the first few chapters and you'll be into a tightly woven mystery with lots of red herrings.

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After David Mark starts his latest novel with a nod to the celebrated first three words of Herman Melville's masterpiece, the first chapter of The Burning Time made me wonder if I had slipped off the page and fallen into a visceral nightmare straight out of the Derek Raymond playbook displayed in I Was Dora Suarez - there was blood, pain, death, distortion, madness, fire - and human disintegration.
Chapter two reminds readers that we are accompanying Inspector Aector McAvoy on his latest murder investigation. Bear-like McAvoy - based in Hull -  and his beguiling gypsy wife Roisin, have been invited to an all-expenses-paid stay at a luxury hotel in Northumbria  to celebrate the seventieth birthday of McAvoy's mother. Mater and filius have become somewhat estranged over the years, mainly due to mum dispensing with Aector's dad when her son was young, and opting for a newer, richer husband - who insisted on Aector being sent away to boarding school, causing mental scars which have not healed over the years. Aector, via this arrangement, has a step brother called Felix, older than he, and a person who subjected his younger step sibling to all kinds of mental and physical bullying back in the day. It is Felix who has organised the family gathering.
Part of the carnage in chapter one involves  Ishmael Piper - a middle-aged hippy living with a twin curse, the first part being that he was the son of the late and legendary rock guitarist Moose Piper, and the second being that he is suffering from Huntington's Chorea, the degenerative disease whose most famous victim was the American musician Woody Guthrie. Ishmael inherited much of his father's wealth, guitars and memorabilia, but his life has become a protracted car crash. His life comes to an end when his remote cottage on the Northumberland moors is gutted by fire. He is found dead outside, his daughter Delilah clutching his hand, while one of his female companions, asleep in an upstairs room, is the second fatality. Delilah has been badly burned. Later, McAvoy sees her:
'He wants to look away; to jerk back - to not have to see what the flame has done on half of her face. He thinks of wormholes at low tide. He can't help himself: his imagination floods with memories; so many twisted worm-casts in the soft grainy sand.'
McAvoy is an intriguing creation. He is physically massive, but suffers from debilitating shyness and a chronic lack of social confidence. He is, however, formidably intelligent and a very, very good policeman. Crime fiction buffs will know that there is a certain trope in police novels, where the newly promoted detective becomes frustrated with paper work, and longs to be out on the street catching villains. McAvoy is more nuanced:
'It always surprises his colleagues to realise that, in a perfect world, McAvoy would never leave the safety of his little office cubicle at Clough Road Police Station.'
The Puccini aria from Tosca, Recondita Armonia, can be translated as 'strange harmony', and no harmony is stranger than that between McAvoy and his wife Roisin. They share a fierce intelligence, but David Mark portrays her as slender, captivatingly beautiful and blessed - or cursed - with an intuition and silver tongue inherited from her Irish gypsy ancestors, and a dramatic contrast to her physically imposing but socially gauche husband.
McAvoy realises that he has been invited to the family gathering, not out of any desire for reconciliation, but because Felix wants him to find out the truth behind Ishmael's death, a task at which the local police have failed. McAvoy, of course - after bouts of epic violence involving various bit-players in the drama - does find the killer, but in doing so illustrates that the birthday party was nothing other than a bitter charade. The Burning Time - a powerful and sometimes disturbing read -  is published by Severn House and is available now.

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Unfortunately, I was unable to download this book before it was archived and so am leaving this as a review/explanation as I didn't know what else to do after finding a few books I had managed to miss in a section of my account entitled Not Active: Archived, Not Downloaded; so I thought it best to clear it up. I have already bought a copy and will leave a review on places like Amazon, Goodreads, Waterstones, etc, once I've completed it and formed my thoughts on it. Apologies for any inconvenience and thank you for the opportunity.

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No one writes crime thrillers better than David Mark. All his books deserve five ***** star reviews. And then some.
Aector and Roisin McAvoy are once again centre stage in this new mystery which gripped me right from the very first page.
David Mark doesn't just create dark and disturbing plots. He understands the darkness which can't always be contained beyond the veil and sometimes seeps into this world with devastating consequences. He creates an evocative layer of dread and unease where the supernatural suddenly becomes all too credible.
The characterisation is stunning. I have to admit I more than once found myself with lots of empathy for one of the bad guys. The denouement was unexpected and extremely clever.

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