Brishen Ayres, a boxing coach, took his star fighter Shay Helden to the USA for his big break, and they were followed by Valentine Teague, a rival boxer. And then something happened that left Helden dead and Ayres mutilated and left in a coma. But the Teagues and the Heldens are rival Traveller families in Ireland, and Valentine Teague is Aector’s brother-in-law. On a desperate mission to stop the family rivalry from escalating into wholescale violence, Aector is determined to find Valentine and bring him home.
But things are far more complicated than they appear. The New York Mob and the Chechen gangs are on the verge of a gang war and deadly killers stalk the streets. And a crime long since forgotten is about to be brought to light…
Book six in the Aector McEvoy series, a series that I’ve always been very fond of, not least because I was lucky enough to be sent a review copy of the very first book, Dark Winter – thinking about it, it may have been the first review copy that I was sent. Certainly the first one that I enjoyed, certainly, thinking of the review that I promised the publisher that I would never refer to again. And it’s a series that I always enjoy, with the compelling character of Aector taking front and centre, providing the light in the (fairly) unrelenting darkness of the crime that surrounds him. The relationship between Aector and his wife is one of the most enjoyable things that I’ve read – one of the most honest and believable portrayals of simple love that I’ve seen.
The plot here is as complex as ever, with reveals, double-crosses, surprises and, on occasion, some violent bits, although I find those very easy to overlook when the writing is of this high quality. The many plot-strands gradually weave together into a cohesive whole, and while the “whodunit” element of this one is less important than in books past (deliberately so), the plot keeps driving forward. I was torn when reading this, whether to read it all in one go or to savour it. I settled for a bit of both (partly due to a massive pile of work appearing on my desk) but ended up reading the second half of the book in a single sitting. Utterly compelling.
Having said that, I wouldn’t start with this one – either Dark Winter or Sorrow Bound are the best jumping on points and I think it’s with Sorrow Bound that David Mark’s writing really begins to stand out. Not that this book spoils what has gone before, but these are the chronicles of a believable character that you will care about, and it’s always best to experience a life in the right order, isn’t it? Anyway, in case, you haven’t guessed, this is Highly Recommended.