Source: Review copy
Publication : 2 March 2023 from Aries/Head of Zeus
My thanks to Aries for an advance copy for review
She says he’s a victim. They say he’s a killer.
When an armed man massacres several people in central London, Claudine witnesses the whole thing. To her horror, one of the victims is her brother, Jethro.
Riven by grief, Claudine retreats to the house in the Fens where she and Jethro grew up. When the police contact her, she is left reeling when they tell her Jethro orchestrated the attack.
Why would a gentle, if troubled, middle-aged man cause such bloodshed – and why would he include himself in the list of victims?
Claudine finds herself down a rabbit hole of mystery, caught up in Jethro’s research on a medieval cult. If she can’t solve the riddle in time, more people will die… and the darkness will claim her too.
Regular readers of this blog will know I am a fan of David Mark and Twist of Fate has done nothing to alter that. Mark is a consummate storyteller and he always takes a different direction to the mundane and predictable.
I do love a dark mind and in Twist of Fate we begin with a horribly creepy prologue that occurs in the past. A night-time tryst in a deserted churchyard is interrupted by sinister figures in the shadows. Straight away that atmosphere of darkness, creepy characters and religion are introduced.
Switch to contemporary times and the polished PR professional, Claudine Cadjou, has a surprise visit from her brother, Jethro. Jethro is a gentle but troubled man; his mental health is not good and he lives alone in a dilapidated cottage on the Fens. Jethro has never before just turned up to visit Claudine. Claudine can see immediately that he is in crisis and her mind is twisting in two directions. How can she remove Jethro from the gaze of her colleagues for fear that he might be damaging her cool image and also what is it that Jethro is trying to say to her?
To her eternal shame she remembers this first thought for long after her brother is brutally stabbed to death as she watches.
D.S. Billy Dean is not at all content. His high achieving wife – the only woman he has ever loved- wants a divorce and he doesn’t want to dissolve the marriage. All he ever wanted was to solve crimes and come home to the wife. What the wife wanted, however, was to rise through the ranks, have others defer to her and to enjoy the trappings that being in charge can offer.
This makes Billy a grumpy, unforgiving and caustic interrogator and he is not in the least gentle when he turns up to interview Claudine. Forget that she has been involved in a terrible and traumatic horror involving her closest relative. DS Dean believes there is more to this case than meets the eye. Two homeless people have also been murdered and Billy Dean is beginning to think that Jethro is implicated. He wants to know more from Claudine.
Claudine meanwhile is distraught with grief and guilt. She needs answers and so she flees to Jethro’s home in the Fens in search of answers. Jethro had a neighbour whom she paid to help out and deliver meals and it is Peg who helps her to find some of the material that Jethro was researching.
David Mark takes the reader on a journey into darkness. The darkness of Claudine’s own loss. The darkness of Jethro’s death and the darkness that is the religious zealotry that Jethro was researching. He marries the dense and atmospheric setting of the Fen marshlands with some nice gloomy churchyards to add more than a touch of ghoulish dimensions.
Claudine and Billy’s narratives are both first person present tense which allows you to experience just what they are thinking and feeling. There is such a welter of swirling emotions contained in Mark’s characters and it’s not always easy to like them. I veered from feeling sorry for Dean until I really, really, didn’t and Claudine is managing just fine living her privileged life until Jethro turns up to prick her conscience.
David Mark’s Twist of Fate is a return to themes that Mark clearly finds fascinating. Those who use religion to further their own ends or causes; the religious idolatory invoked in cults and the worship of the individual. This is the Aleister Crowley version of worship – ‘do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law’.
Mark pulls together a murder mystery which weaves together religion, murder, mental illness and obsession and some nicely questionable supernatural elements, to make a surprising, twisty and altogether highly dramatic storyline which kept me gripped all the way through.
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D.L. Mark spent more than fifteen years as a journalist, including seven years as a crime reporter with the Yorkshire Post. His writing is heavily influenced by the court cases he covered: the jaded police officers; incompetent investigators; the inertia of the justice system and the grief of those touched by tragedy. He writes psychological suspense thrillers and historical novels, plus the DS McAvoy series (as David Mark). Follow D.L. Mark at @davidmarkwriter and http://www.davidmarkwriter.co.uk
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Thanks for the blog tour support x