#BlogTour #Review : May God Forgive by Alan Parks. @AlanJParks @RandomTTours @canongatebooks

Today I’m reviewing something a little different. It’s crime but it’s set in the 1970s which isn’t a period I usually read but the book sounded good so I thought I’d take a chance on it. This is book 5 in the the Harry McCoy series, the covers and titles of all 5 books are at the bottom of the page. Many thanks to Random Things Tours for having me on the tour and sending me a copy of the book to review.

The Book:

Glasgow is a city in mourning. An arson attack on a Royston hairdresser’s has left five women and children dead, and a community reeling. People, more used to turning a blind eye to criminality, erupt
now with rage.

When three youths are charged with the crime, an angry mob gathers outside the courthouse, the prisoners are snatched from a police van and disappear. Days later the body of one is found with a
note attached to his mutilated body – ‘One down, two to go’.

Detective Harry McCoy comes from these streets; his feral childhood battling to survive on them still
haunts him years on. But it also gives him an insight into the soul of Royston and the people who
control it. Time is ticking, and Harry must confront his own past and figures that haunt him still to
prevent another body being found on its mean streets.

The Review: As I’ve said I don’t usually read books from this period, this one is set in May 1974. It is probably best to read these books in order to get more background and character development of Harry but I found it worked well as a stand alone. I was aware I was missing some history likely covered in the previous books but it didn’t affect my understanding or enjoyment of this one.

Having said I don’t tend to read this time period, clearly I read this book so the question is why. In this case it was the blurb that got me. Usually that is what draws me to a book and this was no different. I was intrigued to see what happened, how people reacted, when the bodies of those believed to have committed the arson attack were then dumped back in the community. I was also interested in finding out who was doing this and why, and why the arson attack in the first place.

This is definitely a dark and gritty read. There’s nothing held back to make it sound nicer, it tells it as it would have been. McCoy is back from being in hospital but isn’t recovered so we see him dealing with an ongoing illness while trying to make sense of the abduction of those charged with the arson, while also trying help on other cases. Bearing in mind this is the 70s so no internet, mobile phones, nothing like that. Information is gathered by talking to people, knowing who to talk too and how to find them, and being able to speak to everyone from the ordinary person on the street, to those who society wants to ignore, to those in ok ed in organised crime. It’s quite a mixture of people and takes a lot of skill to be able to deal with them all.

As I said this is dark and gritty, and realistic as well. I enjoyed watching McCoy working, moving from one case to another and trying to find leads, tips or anything else that would help him make sense of what he was dealing with. Although he is working on multiple cases none of them got confused, it was always clear what he was doing even if I didn’t always understand why. Added to this was his battle with his illness, and his relationship with the colleagues he worked with. This last area was probably a little different for me, since I haven’t read the previous books but I was able to get a sense of McCoy’s relationships so I didn’t feel I really missed out.

I’m not sure I’m going to suddenly start reading 1970s crime fiction now but if I do I would definitely be starting with this series as I felt this book had everything I want from a crime novel. It presents an accurate picture of how Glasgow was in the past but also manages to convey the sense of community that existed. If you’re interested in this time period I would recommend this series as a great place to start.

The Author:

Alan Parks captures the dark beating heart of 70s Glasgow in his highly acclaimed Harry McCoy series.

Parks has spent most of his working life dealing with the production of images for Musical Artists, as Creative Director at London Records in the mid 1990’s then at Warner Music. From cover artwork to videos to photo sessions, he created ground-breaking, impactful campaigns for a wide range of artists including All Saints, New Order, The Streets, Gnarls Barclay and Cee Lo Green. He was also Managing Director of 679 Recordings, a joint venture with Warner Music. For the past few years he has worked as an independent visual and marketing consultant.

Alan was born in Scotland and attended The University of Glasgow where he was awarded a M.A. in
Moral Philosophy. He still lives and works in the city as well as spending time in London.

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