Click here to read reviewer Luan Gaines' take on Sorrow Bound.
Not for the faint of heart, Mark’s compelling murder thriller is strafed with
brutal images. His novel laden with as much plot and suspicion as the reader can
handle, Mark seeks to throw a wrench into the organized gangs involved in Hull’s
huge drug-trafficking syndicate. Sorrow Bound is as claustrophobic as Hull’s insufferable, feverish heat wave. Big flame-haired Detective Sergeant Aector McAvoy of the Serious and Organized Crime Unit endures an ongoing torture.
Haunted by his past, only his sessions with a psychologist and his gentle talks with his wife, Roisin, can assuage Aector’s emotional state as he becomes a central figure in a race to save the innocent from a killer intent on revenge.
The weather in Hull is like “a great wet dog,” fraying tempers and inducing a lethargy that affects McAvoy and his boss, Detective Inspector Trish Pharaoh, a “hard as nails type.” Trish has her hands full fighting a turf warfare that is polluting the upper strata of Humberside Police. At present, she’s loosely tasked with investigating a highly organized criminal outfit that appears to have taken over most of the drug trafficking on the Norfolk’s East Coast. Determined to root out and stop the latest spout of violent crime, Trish, McAvoy, volatile DCI Colin Ray, DI Shaz Archer, and DC Helen Tremberg are determined to discover who is actually sweetening their take by handling drugs on the side.
Mark’s efficient two-pronged narrative takes root just as the Team are called to investigate the death of fifty-three-year-old Philippa Longman. Philippa’s body lies on a mattress of cracked stones and broken glass, her upper torso completely eviscerated. McAvoy is shocked at the viciousness of the crime. Elaine Longman, Philippa's daughter, can shed little light on the crime. Shrinking inward in a creased fist of pain and despair, Elaine blames her ex-husband, so haunted she is by the image of her mother’s disfigured and dead body.
The murder investigation ramps up through Hull’s heat-sodden streets, and Mark’s novel leaches an intense aura of menace, a sense of foreboding that begins with McAvoy’s ghastly thoughts and half-imagined memories. McAvoy works to build up a picture of a serial rapist who was neither as injured nor as mentally ill as his old university friend claimed. Then two more grisly murders are discovered within the Humberside Police Boundary, and McAvoy and the team realize they have a criminal whose intent is far darker than they at first imagined.
It’s too hot, too impressive, “too bloody muggy.” Hull feels twitchy, as though the air is charged with something. People are aggressive and scared; the stench of corruption
hangs everywhere. Despite the frustration of the heat, McAvoy proves to be a gentle giant of a man who will do anything to protect his beloved wife and kids, especially when it comes to Adam Downey. A pretty boy with an angelic face and
a drug dealer since his teens, Adam wants to be respected and feared throughout Hull.
He wants to able to “point and nod and dispatch life or death as he sees fit.” But when a drug deal goes wrong, he’s thrust into
the path of Roisin, her best friend, Mel, and an angry Aector.
While evil beckons in the mind of a prisoner whose flesh is rotting (“whatever his crimes, he is suffering punishments far greater than a prison sentence”), it is Helen’s selfish actions that ultimately jeopardize the investigation. Mark, meanwhile, creates a series of unsavory characters: Darren, Elaine’s overweight and emotionally traumatized ex; Hakin, Adam’s Turkish driver who screws up when he delivers a wallet-sized package of white powder; a ruthless psychologist who likes to hold men hostage as he rapes their wives; and various other distasteful and repugnant residents of Hull’s criminal underworld.
Plagued by memories of his past, McAvoy moves though the violence, fueled by the dark brutality of the crimes. Mark handles all this with passion and gusto as his twisted tale moves towards its inevitable, heart-stopping conclusion in which one of the most repellent, damaged characters in recent crime fiction clashes with our beaten-down and bloodied hero.