Tuesday 19 February 2019



Bodies are piling up with grisly messages carved into their chests. Rival gangs are competing for control of Glasgow's underworld and it seems that Cooper, McCoy's oldest gangster friend, is tangled up in it all.

Detective Harry McCoy's first day back at work couldn't have gone worse.

New drugs have arrived in Glasgow, and they've brought a different kind of violence to the broken city. The law of the street is changing and now demons from McCoy's past are coming back to haunt him. But vengeance always carries a price, and it could cost McCoy more than he ever imagined.

The waters of Glasgow corruption are creeping higher, as the wealthy and dangerous play for power. And the city's killer continues his dark mission.

Can McCoy keep his head up for long enough to solve the case?

Bruised and battered from the events of Bloody January, McCoy returns for a breathless ride through the ruthless world of 1970s Glasgow.

Bloody January from Alan Parks was one of my favourite books of 2018 and I was curious to see if the second in a planned 12 book series measured up. I'm happy to report it does.

70s Glasgow, a murdered professional footballer - not just murdered but mutilated into the bargain and one with links to a heavy hitter criminal boss, Jake Scobie. Celtic player Charlie Jackson was engaged to Scobie's daughter and it looks like one of Scobie's close confidants and enforcers, Kevin Connolly has done the deed. Apparently Connolly had a thing for Elaine Scobie.

Simples then - find Connolly and close the case. If only.

Mental illness, a struck off doctor with a penchant for conducting lobotomies, unrequited love, a falling out of criminals, a picture in a paper, a suicide, a terminal illness, an obstructive lawyer, ghosts from the past, an escalation, a river rescue, family friction, an insider takeover (?), manipulation and scheming, more victims, a peeping Tom act, a hotel raid, a disturbing look inside a diseased mind, a kicking with the promise of more, some plans for retribution, a childhood bond, a busy reporter, a poorly mother, dabbling with drugs, revenge goes awry, an escalation, a funeral, a plan of action, a few bevvies, a few pies and some tension between old friends, shooting for the stars, a lucky escape, a guilty conscience and a tearful confession, and a helluva lot more going on here.

Harsh, brutal, graphic and enlightening. There's a lot of pain in this book and a lot of ghosts that get exorcised, particularly for our main character, Harry McCoy in a story strand that runs tangentially to our main aim of capturing our very obvious villain, Kevin Connolly. All the bits and bobs of the tale overlap and entwine and eventually get wrapped up with consummate skill and very satisfactorily too.

I loved the main character Harry. Parks makes us care about him and we feel his pain and the suffering the weight of his memories causes him. His casual drug use and over indulgence on occassions with alcohol is understandable and cathartic for him in many respects. That he is an honest copper mostly, is a testament to his strength and resilience. I do like the loyalty to and the interactions with childhood friend and up-and-coming major villain Stevie Cooper. I enjoy his banter with young Wattie and their partnership with Wattie feeding off the old pro McCoy and having his eyes opened to the sights and perils of big city Glasgow. I like the fact McCoy has a boss, Murray who has his back.

Looking forward to book three, whenever that drops. 2020 - hurry up!

4.5 from 5

Read in February, 2019
Published - 2019
Page count - 368
Source - review copy from publisher Canongate
Format - paperback



  1. A main character who endears himself/herself is a big plus in any story, good, average or bad. At 368 pages, FEBRUARY'S SON appears to be a very busy novel. Glad you enjoyed it, Col.

  2. Hmmm...I think this one's a bit harsh for me, Col. But the Harry McCoy character sounds interesting and appealing. And it sounds as though the Glasgow setting works, too. I'm glad this outing lived up to the first.

    1. I can understand that Margot. There are some difficult subjects broached here and it's not something that everybody wants to read about. Worked well for me though. I do like Alan Parks' books and main character.

  3. Col – I was in Glasgow once, quite a few years ago, and while it was no paradise, who knew it was so hellish behind the scenes – at least according to the local crime writers. I need to drop back and take a run at BLOODY JANUARY.

    1. Elgin, I've only been a couple of times myself for work. It's a great setting for some crime fiction. I'd recommend Parks and William McIlvanney if you get the chance.