Alan Parks is a Glasgow author who spent most of his career in the music industry. He wrote a book about social housing in post-war Glasgow which somehow metamorphosed into the first Harry McCoy historical thriller. It was one of the top crime debuts of 2018 and was shortlisted for the Grand Prix de Littérature Policière, the most prestigious award for crime and detective fiction in France.
The third one in the series Bobby March Will Live Forever (World Noir, 2021) won the 2022 Edgar for Best Paperback Original. Its title comes from the drug death of a Glaswegian rock guitarist who turned down the opportunity to join the Rolling Stones to pursue a career as a solo artist. Harry McCoy takes the call after a maid finds March in the hotel where the rocker was staying. He knows finding the dealer who supplied the drugs is hopeless but he goes through the motions. In the meantime, the entire city is searching for a missing 12-year-old girl; McCoy is looking for another missing teenager at the request of his police department mentor. He takes time to help his childhood best friend, now a criminal gang leader, out of a jam. The book starts in a scattershot fashion but the story lines come together in the end.
Set in a heatwave during July 1973 amid the poverty and desperation of Glasgow. With long-term economic decline, mass unemployment, population flight, and high levels of urban decay, residents turned to organized crime and a thriving drug trade for meaning and money. This backdrop of Glasgow’s low point is the perfect setting for gritty noir.
McCoy is an interesting character who faints when he sees blood, unfortunate in a homicide cop. He’s got a turbulent backstory and crosses the line between the police and the felonious element occasionally because of loyalty to his criminal friend who protected him as a child. I love the way he does not hesitate to tap his friends on either side of the legal fence for help when he needs something. I kept Google at hand as I read so I could look up terms such as “peely-wally”, “bovvy boots”, and “going spare”. I was entranced to learn that a “99” is a soft ice cream cone with a bar of Cadbury chocolate in the middle.
Peppered with unflinching violence, I liked this book as much as the first one. An excellent piece of Tartan noir. The fifth in the series was released in May 2022 and was shortlisted for the 2022 McIlvanney Prize. Highly recommended.
· Publisher: World Noir (April 6, 2021)
· Language: English
· Paperback: 320 pages
· ISBN-10: 1609456858
· ISBN-13: 978-1609456856
Aubrey Nye Hamilton ©2022
Aubrey Hamilton is a former librarian who works on Federal It projects by day and reads mysteries at night.