Published by: Canongate books
Taut and tension packed, a highly compelling read
When an American sailor from the Holy Loch Base goes missing, Harry McCoy is determined to find him. But as he investigates, a wave of bombings hits Glasgow – with the threat of more to come. Soon McCoy realises that the sailor may be part of a shadowy organisation committed to a very different kind of Scotland. One they are prepared to kill for.
Meanwhile Cooper, McCoy’s long-time criminal friend, is released from jail and convinced he has a traitor in his midst. As allies become enemies, Cooper has to fight for his position and his life. He needs McCoy to do something for him. Something illegal.
McCoy is running out of time to stop another bomb, save himself from the corrupt forces who want to see him fail and save the sailor from certain death. But McCoy discovers a deeper, darker secret – the sailor is not the first young man to go missing in April.
Alan Parks is not an author I have previously read, so had no preconceived conceptions of what to expect. Whilst this is the 4th in the Harry McCoy series it easily read as a standalone.
What I got was a wonderfully taut, dark, tense read, packed with raw grit and drama. 1970s Glasgow was not the place to be, gangland, sectarianism and violence abound and Harry has a friendship with one such gang leader Stevie Cooper which goes back to childhood, a relationship which Cooper will use to his advantage whilst putting Harry at odds against his colleague, however it is obvious that the police of the time weren’t adverse to bit of physicality themselves.
The plot centres around a missing American sailor and a speight of bombings, as the investigation gathers apace it becomes apparent that the two may not be unconnected.
It certainly is an interesting plot and the author cleverly combines the two storyline threads into an explosive read which drips in tension and oozes in harsh realism, strewn with plenty of twists
McCoy as a character is old school and certainly has lead a hard life suffering as he does from an ulcer which he is determined to ignore, also clearly not adverse to crossing the morality line. Ably aided by his colleague Wattie a man who has his own personal demons to contend with, they certainly make for an interesting pair, their methods may at times be questionable but feel right for the times. Another character which plays a large part in adding authenticity to the book is Glasgow and the surrounding area, brought vividly and descriptively to life on the pages, these were certainly hard times with poverty abounding and the author doesn’t shy away from telling how it was, you get a terrific sense of place.
The way the book is written it compels the reader to keep reading as the drama unfolds, you find yourself instantly drawn into the storyline, The author combines the harsh realities of life with questionable policing methods and brings the 70s back to life. Slick, dark and a wonderfully satisfying read.
On the basis of this book, I will be reading the three previous books in the series and would certainly recommend