Bloody January

Bloody January

Book - 2019
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Publisher: Canongate Books, 2019
Edition: ON ORDER
ISBN: 9781786891365


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May 03, 2019

Detective Harry McCoy should have listened to his snitch. Now he’s sitting beside the body of a teenager who just killed himself after shooting a waitress in the middle of a busy Glasgow street. Harry doesn’t now it yet but things are about to get much worse. So much so that years from now they’ll still refer to it as Bloody January.

This is a dark police procedural that takes us back to 1973. Glasgow is a gritty, violent place with territorial crime bosses, bent cops & an established class system. There are 2 sets of rules…one for those with influence & another for those deemed disposable.

Harry falls somewhere in the middle. He’s an old school cop, struggling to adapt to changes within the department & society. While he works hard to put away the guilty, he has a soft spot for those who are down on their luck. He has his own set of rules when it comes to keeping the peace that includes a close relationship with hard man Stevie Cooper. Most of his colleagues figure Harry is in it for the perks but we come to learn it’s much more complex than that. Their history gradually unfolds as the main plot plays out & it gives us heartbreaking insight into Harry’s character.

The bodies continue to pile up over the course of a few weeks & everything seems to point toward the wealthiest family in Glasgow. Lord Dunlop is an arrogant, privileged man well known to Harry. His position comes with influence that reaches the highest levels of government & law enforcement. So it’s no surprise when Harry is duly warned: stay away from his Lordship & find another suspect.

Ah, but what fun would that be? Besides, Harry has been saddled with a shiny new partner named Wattie & someone has to teach him the ropes. And as Harry drags him down dark allies full of prostitutes, criminals & the homeless, Wattie’s eyes are well & truly opened.

I’m astonished this is a debut novel. It’s well paced with a narrative that perfectly evokes the setting. Scenes are full of the clothing, hairstyles & music of the day & that mixed with dialogue full of local vernacular leaves you in no doubt of the time or place. But just a heads up, there is plenty of violence & sexual abuse. It informs the plot lines & fits the story but some may find certain scenes upsetting. This is a well written, atmospheric addition to the genre of tartan noir.

Oct 19, 2018

Stunningly impressive noir thriller set in 1970's Glasgow. The protagonist (it would be stretching the truth to call him a hero), McCoy, is a police detective with a traumatic past, troublesome connections with high-level criminals, a disdain for both the police hierarchy and Scotland's upper class and--most surprising of all--a conscience. The characters are believable despite the extreme circumstances they encounter. I couldn't put this book down.

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