Friday 17 August 2018



When a teenage boy shoots a young woman dead in the middle of a busy Glasgow street and then commits suicide, Detective Harry McCoy is sure of one thing. It wasn't a random act of violence.

With his new partner in tow, McCoy uses his underworld network to lead the investigation but soon runs up against a secret society led by Glasgow's wealthiest family, the Dunlops.

McCoy's boss doesn't want him to investigate. The Dunlops seem untouchable. But McCoy has other ideas . . .

In a helter-skelter tale – winding from moneyed elite to hipster music groupies to the brutal gangs of the urban wasteland – Bloody January brings to life the dark underbelly of 1970s Glasgow and introduces a dark and electrifying new voice in Scottish noir.

Seventies Glasgow and a public murder which our lead character, Detective McCoy had been warned about but which he was unable to prevent, has Bloody January off and running at a ferocious clip. Alan Parks had me hooked early and cliche or not it was a struggle to put the book down. 

Murder, suicide, manipulation, drugs, prostitution, sordid sex parties, sick minds and cameras, films and photographs, blackmail, S&M, cops consorting with gangsters, a good time girl as a girlfriend, more deaths and disappearances, an untouchable family, political interference, corruption, police rivalries and affiliations, a young recruit, a failed relationship with child bereavement a huge shadow, a disturbing upbringing at the hands of the Church, a lifelong friendship forged in terror under abuse, two different paths, massage parlours, beatings and torture, poverty, a stop start investigation and a relentless doggedness to ensure those responsible pay one way or another.

Interesting dynamics throughout - especially Harry and his childhood friend and Glaswegian criminal terror Stevie. A shared history and a perceived debt binds them together and forces Harry to overlook Stevie's criminality, despite the possible cost to his career.     

Not a book for the faint of heart, very dark and graphic in places, very in your face in the descriptions of a long ago Glasgow where poverty and crime seemed prevalent. A different time when police and thieves had arrangements and understandings.

Setting - tick.
Pace - tick.
Storyline - tick.
Characters - tick.
Grim and gritty quota - double tick.
Resolution - tick.

Debut novel from author - tick (unbelievable)
More books from Alan Parks - yes please.
A second McCoy book drops early next year - February's Son

Alan Parks might just usurp Malcolm Mackay as my favourite Scottish crime writer.

Overall verdict - bloody marvellous!
5 from 5

Read in July, 2018
Published - 2017
Page count - 336
Source - Edelweiss early reviewer's site courtesy of publisher, World Noir
Format - kindle 


  1. If I'm being honest, Col, this one doesn't sound like it's for me. I do like the Glasgow setting, though. And it does sound like there are some interesting characters in it.

    1. Margot, I get that. I think there's elements that would appeal to a lot of readers - the setting and the time frame of the story, but the author doesn't pull any punches in his depiction of the cops, the criminals and how his story unfolds. I think we diverge at this point. Me - I loved it.

  2. A lot of regular tropes there, nothing unusual - but 5/5 and your verdict counts for something.

    1. I think you would enjoy large elements of this tale, but you'd need to be feeling strong to tackle it.

  3. I am impressed with a 5 out of 5, and maybe it would not be too dark and graphic for me. The setting appeals.

    1. Lots to appeal to you, lots that would probably have you running for the hills. Hmm... a difficult one to recommend even though I loved it.