cover
Scorched Earth by David Mark
DS McAvoy #7

Synopsis:

The police think Crystal Heathers isn’t missing.

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.

My review:

Scorching Earth centres around a complex police investigation with ties in the past. Starting the reader at the Calais refugee camp and ending on the streets of Hull. It is cleverly written and has brilliant diverse characters. I have read other books in the DS McAvoy series and I have huge respect for the author and his ability to bring alive a broad-range of characters. The Hull the author brings alive is a real reflection of society, something sometimes lacking in modern crime novels.

The novel opens in the Calais migrant camp and the inhumane conditions make for shocking reading. The jungle home to thousands of desperate souls, is far from an easy life. It is at this camp that we first meet Manu, Golgol and Aishitia. Whilst one of the men is fearless and cruel, another has a heart full of betrayal and an appetite for revenge.

‘There are men here who prey upon the weak’

Meanwhile in Hull, young Primrose Musgrave is with her pony instructor Crystal when she is kidnapped. The kidnappers leave behind a sinister warning…..

‘Tell him I have come to repay his betrayal’

‘Tell him he is going to pay’

Across Hull city centre, Detective Sargent Aector McAvoy is with his wife Roisin and two young children. He is visiting the Autumn Days care home and ex-copper resident Perry Royle. Perry is alone in the world and via a twist of events, has come to rely upon McAvoy’s visits. However, when the visit takes place, Perry is full of details of suspicious behaviour at a local abandoned building.
Unable to investigate on his own, he urges McAvoy to pursue his leads.
It isn’t long until McAvoy smells the distinct stench of human remains…….

At the scene the body of Mahesh Kahrivardan is discovered. The body is secured in the wall, with the brutal use of nail guns. Which reminds the surrounding coppers of the local criminal gang the ‘headhunters’. The criminal gang is known to be merciless and professional, the nail gun their signature. But how has Mahesh gotten himself mixed up with a criminal gang? Why did they see fit to have him murdered?

Further investigation reveals that Mahesh had a possible captive at the abandoned building. With an equestrian knot in the ropes and a missing persons case on Crystal, it isn’t long until McAvoy connects the dots….

Manu and Aishitia’s past is explored and in their childhood, they have known extreme suffering, brutality and death. Former child soldiers, they have their own form of brotherhood and unique style of correcting betrayal.

‘The only memories that matter are the ones in your heart’ – Aishitia

The case has various spin-off investigations, with McAvoy even investigating horse neglect at one point. Nothing gets past McAvoy and his coppers nose.

There is a broad list of police officers that take part in the multiple cases. I think this gives the novel a realistic feel. The main themes of the novel cover so many areas of policing, such as organised crime, dirty cops, immigration, people trafficking and the drugs squad. The novel creates room for debate on themes of vigilante justice, violence & power, crime & wealth and international crime.

‘Greed is just hunger under a different name’

DS McAvoy has so many strong feelings towards the abuse of individuals and power of fear. He questions his own instincts. Is he motivated by stories in her own past?
What happens when you treat people as commodities?
How do people value human life as worthless in comparison to money?

‘When a man has tired of killing, he has tired of life’

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and loved the unique insights into the various themes. The author has clearly researched well, and it shows.
This is a brilliant edition to the DS McAvoy series! 5*

DM
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