Source: Review copy
Publication: 5 March 2020 from Canongate
WHO IS TO BLAME WHEN NO ONE IS INNOCENT?
The papers want blood.
The force wants results.
The law must be served, whatever the cost.
July 1973. The Glasgow drugs trade is booming and Bobby March, the city’s own rock-star hero, has just overdosed in a central hotel.
Alice Kelly is thirteen years old, lonely. And missing.
Meanwhile the niece of McCoy’s boss has fallen in with a bad crowd and when she goes AWOL, McCoy is asked – off the books – to find her.
McCoy has a hunch. But does he have enough time?
It is an absolute pleasure to be able to kick off the blog tour for Bobby March Will Live Forever. I’ve been waiting for this for such a long time, or so it seems. Alan Parks’ McCoy series has become an absolute ‘must read’. If I’m honest, it’s been that since my sister introduced me to the first in the series, Bloody January.
Harry McCoy is a cop with his own sense of right and wrong. He’s been in trouble before for not acquiescing to the endemic low level corruption in the Glasgow force; indeed he’s made enemies as a result. It doesn’t do to rock the boat too much in this force. Yet McCoy’s best pal is one of Glasgow’s hardest. Stevie Cooper runs a serious criminal enterprise; something McCoy knows and accepts.
It’s 1978 and Glasgow is sweltering, in the midst of a cloying, uncomfortable heatwave. The city seems to be awash with drugs, and a young 12 year old girl, Alice Kelly, is missing.
In a hotel room in central Glasgow, the once stellar rock star Bobby March, has died with a needle in his arm. Bobby had one claim to fame, and it was a belter. Real fans still talked about it. He’d been a brilliant guitarist and could have made it big, but chose a different path. Harry seen his gig the previous evening and almost missed out on an exceptional piece of playing amid an otherwise unremarkable concert.
Harry’s boss, Chief Inspector Murray has been seconded to Perth and in his absence the newly promoted Detective Sergeant Bernie Raeburn has been throwing his weight around. His primary target is Harry McCoy, a man he detests ever since Harry wouldn’t play ball on taking casual bribes.
With the focus of media attention squarely on the Glasgow force, Raeburn is out to make his mark and he’s damned sure Harry’s going to be nowhere close to his glory when it comes, as he knows for a fact it will.
Harry is pushed out of the hunt for Alice Kelly and Raeburn dumps on him a couple of old robberies he’s been unable to solve, in the confident hope that when Harry can’t follow up the now cold trail, he’ll get the blame.
Harry follows up on Bobby March’s death as well as the robberies and as a personal favour, Murray asks him to track down his teenage niece, Laura, who has gone walkabout.
Parks brilliantly captures 1970’s Glasgow; he opens the doors of the pubs and clubs so that we can choke in the smoky atmosphere; revel in the sexism and the brutal roughness of the thugs born with nothing who learned the hard way to take what they wanted, letting no-one get in their way. This is a story of tribes, sectarianism and of the gallus lassies who learn how to stay fast on their feet in the midst of gangs and violence in Glasgow’s mean streets.
From the wonderful Electric Garden to the Maryland Ballroom, Parks took me right back to the heady days of Uriah Heep, Status Quo and Deep Purple concerts when it felt truly joyous to be alive and part of the rock generation, all this as all hell is taking place in Northern Ireland and the perpetrators of some of the Belfast ‘troubles’ are spilling over into Scotland courtesy of the Larne to Stranraer ferry.
McCoy has to take all this in his stride and manages to do so while retaining a warm heart and a quick wit despite the frequent beatings that come his way.
Verdict: Well worth waiting for, Alan Parks has written another absolutely compelling dark and gritty crime novel with real heart. His dialogue is sharp and sweet and his writing is hugely engaging. This is prose I gratefully sank into, wallowing in the words, enjoying the way they soaked into my skin and I scowled somewhat as I reluctantly had to ease myself out at the end. Parks captures both the city and the time in a pitch perfect, riveting storyline. This is another brilliant addition to an already unmissable series.
Alan Parks was born in Scotland and attended the University of Glasgow where he was awarded a M.A. in Moral Philosophy. PHe still lives and works in the city. He has spent most of his working life in music. From cover artwork to videos to photo sessions, he created groundbreaking campaigns for a wide range of artists including All Saints, New Order, The Streets, Gnarls Barkley and CeeLo Green. He was also Managing Director of 679 Recordings.