Cover Image: Bloody January

Bloody January

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Member Reviews

Loved this book, I belong to Glasgow and the prose was spot on. Will be reading more from this author. 5 star read for me.
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If you like crime series of old school policing you will not be disappointed with this.  I found it a little hard and dark throughout but that was all part and parcel of the story and setting.  Set in 1970’s Glasgow with lots of reference points if you know the area, a new series to add to the Scottis Noir that can be so good.  A lot of bad language in case you dont like that but it fitted with the characters.
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Last September I attended the Bloody Scotland festival and one of my pals suggested I read Bloody January as it seemed like “my kind of story”.  Ten months later I finally started reading and I am really regretting that ten month wait.  Bloody January is very much “my kind of story” I utterly loved it.  So much so that I cheated on the audiobook version with a digital copy so that I could “read” it quicker – it’s that good!

Alan Parks takes us back to Glasgow in the cold, damp January of 1973. The lead character is Detective Harry McCoy, he enjoys the company of a working girl, drinks heavily, takes drugs, smokes (everyone smokes) and his best friend is head of one Glasgow’s criminal gangs.  I rather liked McCoy, we find he has come through some tough times and is not coping well.

McCoy is summoned to Barlinnie (Glasgow’s famous prison) to speak with a man he helped convict. He is given advance warning of a murder…can he stop a life being taken? Despite his reservations over the accuracy of this information McCoy tries to track down the girl but he arrives too late to prevent her very pubic death. The murderer then takes his own life but the question of WHY needs addressed and McCoy, with his young trainee “Wattie” in tow, are tasked with finding answers.

Much of the appeal in reading came from the interaction between the characters.  McCoy and Wattie were especially fun to accompany on their investigations.  Wattie has been moved from rural Ayrshire to learn how policing in “the big city” works – watching him find his feet is a blast.

Bloody January is a police procedural where none of the conventional procedures seem to be followed. It is a rough time, political correctness is totally unheard of and sexual equality is a tricky area for McCoy (as we get to see).   Alan Parks has done a cracking job of making the old town come back to life around his readers. The story, the setting, the corruption and poverty all  makes for brilliant reading and I loved reading about “old” Glasgow.

As I indicated at the outset I listened to the majority of the book on audiobook. Narration duties are in the very capable hands of Andrew McIntosh. I maintain that the narrator can make or break the audiobook experience – if the story sounds wrong then it will stop me enjoying the book.  The good news is that McIntosh is perfect.  Glasgow sounds suitably gritty and the characters come to life under his care.

I loved this step back in time. Bloody January is, without doubt, one of the books which I have enjoyed most in recent months. I can only hope that the characters which survive the tale (no spoilers) will return for another outing.
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An excellent novel with well drawn plot and characters.  I did enjoy reading it and am looking forward to seeing the authors next work
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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. What then unfolds will have your heart hammering against your ribs as Harry will stop at nothing to try and get to the truth. I love discovering new Tartan Noir and this is first class crime writing. I am a huge fan of police procedurals and gritty realism and I got totally engrossed in this tale of Glasgow’s underbelly which will keep you on the edge of your seat. Whether mingling with gangsters or prostitutes, Harry McCoy will go wherever it takes and bend whatever rules are necessary to see justice done. I read the final few chapters of this actually holding my breath, it really is that good. Scotland is definitely the place for cutting-edge crime writing these days and Alan Parks is going to be around for a long time. Not for the faint of heart, this evocative and razor sharp thriller will remind you of William McIlvanney at his finest. This is a five-star read that won’t let you go. Buy it now...
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Alan Parks is a new author to me, Bloody January is a bloody good read, Parks is a good new find.

"It became one of those cases cops mark their career by. Peter Manuel, Bible John and Bloody January" This is a sizzler, it bowls along at a good pace through the dark side of 70's Glasgow, 6 murders in a week, a rebel cop (isn't there always?), powerful hidden forces trying to stop the investigation. What's not to like?

If you like Ian Rankin's Rebus or Michael Connelly's Bosch then read this, you won't be disappointed. I definitely want to read the next McCoy from Parks.

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1970’s Glaswegian dystopia

Tartan Noir is a name given to gritty thrillers set in Scotland and I am a huge fan of both the novels and the TV series. The most recent TV show ‘Shetland’ had me eagerly anticipating each new episode. The brooding Scottish weather is the perfect backdrop to a good murder mystery.

Happily, with a book, one does not have to remember to set the record option, nor does one have to wait weeks for a resolution. A gripping novel can be read in a couple of days, and boy, I enjoyed this gripping, page-turner.

I enjoyed the foul-mouthed, drunken cops. Even the violence and corruption took on a seedy glamour. Echoes of Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe. The underbelly of Glasgow is exposed in all its brutality.

Detective Harry McCoy is the new, flawed hero. No stranger to violence and the ways of the gangs, he searches for the truth. We learn about his past in an abusive Catholic boys’ home and begin to understand the man and what has shaped him. His fierce loyalty to Stevie Cooper is explained.

I look forward to many more books featuring Detective McCoy.


Breakaway Reviewers received a copy of the book to review
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If this indeed the start of a series if novels set in in 1970's Glasgow featuring McCoy as the detective, we're in for a treat. McCoy has his issues. He drinks [ excessively], takes drugs[ occasionally, uses prostitutes and comes with a backstory of a dreadfully brutal childhood. Add to this his "shop" is in a seriously grim part of Glasgow and you have the perfect setting for brutal murders, vicious beatings and perpetual gang warfare. Fortunately Wattie - a newly fledged detective from Greenock - is assigned to work with McCoy and he proves to be the perfect foil to McCoy's many eccentricities. There is the basis here for an intriguing partnership to develop. 
And so to the novel itself. McCoy gets a tip off about a murder yet to happen. He half-heartedly follows it up only to find himself there when it happens.  Then the tipster is murdered. So the scene is set and McCoy's investigation takes him from the Dunlop family - living a life of luxury on the outskirts of Glasgow - to the sleaziest underbelly parts of the city itself. McCoy, ever the one who to go against the rules and opt for the unconventional approach, nonetheless gets a result in the end but at huge personal cost. 
Great, atmospheric writing, but remember this is Glasgow in the 1970's and it was not a nice place!
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Loved this book. Nice change to have a believable police procedural set in a different time period. Glasgow in the 1970's certainly sounds very rough around the edges.
Would recommend this book 5 stars
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Wow wow wow Alan Parks has shot into my top ten favorite authors with this no nonsense thriller.
Detective Harry McCoy is with the Glasgow police force and is a law unto himself with his dodgy dealing and relationships with others who are on the wrong side of the law. But looking beyond that he wants justice for everyone no matter their status in life.
It all begins when a young waitress is shot in the street by a young man who then turns the gun on himself and blows off half his head. What follows is a no nonsense storyline which seems so real that you feel part of it.
Absolutely loved loved loved this book can't wait to read the next one. Totally deserves 5 stars.
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This book is set in Glasgow in January 1973 and a very snowy Glasgow at that.  The main characters are Detective McCoy, a policeman with more demons than most.  His mother left when he was young leaving him in the care of his hopeless, alcoholic father which resulted in him being brought up in the care system where he gained a protector by the name of Cooper, who became one of Glasgow's main drug lords which caused a bit of tension with McCoy's boss.
McCoy finds himself being shadowed by a young detective called Wattie, an intelligent young man who tries hard to keep up with McCoy on many levels, often with very unanticipated results.

The story starts with a convicted prisoner telling McCoy that a young girl was going to be killed and asked him to prevent it happening.  Unfortunately things don't go to plan and McCoy and Wattie find themselves on the wrong end of their boss, Murray, and with 2 dead bodies on their hands.

This sees the start of a very frustrating investigation for McCoy and Wattie, with Murray breathing down their necks at every turn.

This story contains references to events that actually happened during January 1973 and I got the impression that it was based on the way Glasgow was policed during the early 70's.  All I can say about that is that it's just as well things have evolved.  Neanderthal would be the word that would best describe the overall impression of policing at that time.  There is a character in the book that is working with the police investigating sex workers as she is writing her thesis on aspects of the sex industry.  She is a very outspoken feminist and shines a very bright light on some very uncomfortable aspects of the ways in which women are treated.  

I couldn't take to McCoy at all.  I found him to be reckless and inconsistent.  His drug taking was almost out of control, he frequently did things he knew he shouldn't, usually to keep the peace with his friend Cooper.  I liked the fact that he was uncorruptable regardless of the temptations in his way but that was his only redeeming feature.  I'm not sure I would read another book about McCoy unless it was to see if Wattie truly lived up to his early promise of becoming a decent detective.
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When Harry McCoy is summoned to Barlinnie Jail and told by an inmate that a girl will be killed in the morning he is skeptical but follows it up.  The next morning the girl is killed and her killer shoots himself.  McCoy is then drawn into a complex case which brings him face-to-face with a couple of old adversaries.  McCoy is also trying to fight his connections to Cooper, a local crime kingpin who wants to take control of the burgeoning heroin trade in Glasgow.  In the first few days of 1973, drugs, prostitution and murder are a to the fore and McCoy is trying to stem the tide.

This is a debut novel and is it bodes well for the future.  Set in the early 1970s, Parks is able to summon up the sense of time and place without becoming pastiche.  A cultural reference here, a song there, a geographical hint etc, it speaks of knowledge/research but added in with such a light touch.  The story is complex with twists and turns aplenty and lots of concurrent themes, it reads like an episode in a long-running series, so convincing are the hints of backstory - what happened to Harry's baby and why did his wife/partner leave him, how did he end up with Janey and what will happen to her, where will the Dunlop storyline end?  This is such a refreshing new voice in Scottish Noir, brutal and unyielding but brilliantly written.
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I always enjoy a story set in my home city and this was no exception. This one was set in the Glasgow of my childhood, the 1970s, and it is quite amazing to read about some of the police practices that were no doubt commonplace then, but would not be allowed nowadays. The story was gritty, hard hitting and gripping. I enjoyed meeting DI McCoy, and seeing his story unfurl. Without giving spoilers, his background is one that always makes me feel uncomfortable, probably through knowing these things happen tinged with disbelief that this could be the case. The glimpses into his background were a real eye opener, and key to much of the story. When they visited Nazareth House during the investigation, I could picture it clearly, as I grew up overlooking this establishment. I hope in future books to get to know DI McCoy better and hope he overcomes his demons - the effect on his policing practice is huge, and you wonder how far he will be left to go.
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A young boy shoots a woman dead in the middle of the day on a Glasgow street.  Prior to this McCoy had received information from a prisoner of a threat to a female’s life but was unable to make contact in time.  Soon after the prisoner who made contact with him turns up dead with his tongue cut out.  Tasked with investigating the crime McCoy soon realises the shooting is not as straight forward as it first appeared.
While making enquiries he discovers links to the abuse and/or death of others.  He also finds out several well-known public figures are part of a network of people involved in these activities including a colleague he has looked up to for years.
Wattie is the young officer who has just graduated, keen to make his way in the police force.  Much to McCoy’s dismay, he is partnered with the new recruit and tries to keep him out of trouble (or should I say the way?).
Unusual friendship between McCoy and a small-time crook called Cooper, which dates back to a childhood spent in an orphanage.
My favorite character was McCoy even though he seemed to have some sort of condition related to alcohol and/or possibly abuse?  An officer, who drinks, takes drugs and risks is definitely not the usual stereotype I would come across in my reading.  Despite all this, he never pretended to be anything else and tried to keep a certain standard in his work.
This is a police/crime story with a difference eg “sitting in an after hours club speeding out his mind with a police badge in his suit pocket”.  The two don’t really go together but I guess its typical of those somewhat bleak times?
A police/mystery/thriller involving an officer who drinks, takes drugs and risks is sure to make its mark on those who enjoy police procedurals/thrillers.  I can hardly believe this is a debut novel and highly recommend it go on your To Read list.
Thank you to the publisher for providing a digital copy of this book via Netgalley.  This was a super read and thanks for the opportunity to provide a review.
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I thought Bloody January was a good crime novel and a promising start to a series.

Set in Glasgow in January 1973, Harry McCoy is a Detective Inspector who gets a cryptic tip-off from a gangster in prison that a murder is about to take place.  McCoy and his new partner then investigate an increasingly complex case involving Glasgow's seamiest criminal side of drugs, prostitution and violence in which some very rich and powerful people seem to be involved.  It's a good story, well told.  Alan Parks writes well and generates a very good, convincing atmosphere of both the period and the milieu.  It is pretty unremittingly dark, with plenty of drink, drugs, miserable weather and some sickening violence.  (There is language to match, which is completely appropriate to the characters, but some readers may like to be warned of liberal use of both the c- and f-words.)

I did think that the book was treading some quite well-worn paths at times.  I mean, does a maverick Scottish Police Inspector with a desolate emotional life who drinks far too much, has a morally ambiguous relationship with a powerful criminal and is barely tolerated by his superiors sound at all familiar?  Or a plot with aristocrats behaving badly and using their highly-placed contacts to protect themselves?  

Nonetheless, I still found this an involving read and I will look out for the next book.  Harry McCoy has the potential to be a very interesting character and I think Alan Parks may develop this into a very good series. Recommended if you like your crime dark and seedy.

(I received an ARC via NetGalley.)
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Set in 1973, in Glasgow, this mystery told the story of 30 year old detective, Harry McCoy.

I like anything set in Scotland ever since the first time I went there and fell in love with it.
And I did like this.

But the setting of this book meant I could not relate to the characters and found them very annoying.
The main character often said some sexist or homophobic stuff and it bothered me.
I really did not like being in his head.
The only character I did like was Susan but I still felt like she was misportrayed.

The plot was quite interesting but I felt like it lacked true mystery, it wasn’t really a whodunit and I really love whodunits.

Basically, this was just okay for me in the end.
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I requested this book after seeing it was set in 1970s Glasgow and it didn’t disappoint.

One of the biggest surprises of this book is it’s a debut. The written is so descriptive of the era, the characters brilliantly written and the pace keeps you reading. I would have guessed this was a well-seasoned author.

Even if you don’t know Glasgow, the areas where the story takes place are so well described you can imagine them pretty easily. Most of the ares are run down, full of crime and run by gangs helped by corrupt cops. Harry McCoy is one of the better ones, but still very flawed. He was the standout character and one I hope to read more about in the future.

A fantastic debut, and I hope to read more from Alan Parks soon.

Thank you to the publishers and NetGalley for a copy of this book.
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A new author to me and a cracking entry into some more Scottish noir. The dialect rings true being from north of the border, and the set pieces are quite grisly - if you enjoyed recent Noir by the likes of Denzil Meyrick, you'd enjoy this. Some of the protagonists are superbly nasty pieces of work. - and the lead's time as a child in care was grimly portrayed with as much by what was not said ... the payoff at the end well worth it, but some of the detail is not for the squeamish.
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Bloody January is an excellent debut novel. It is a dark, gritty police procedural set in Glasgow in 1973 and this narrative had me gripped from the first chapter. Harry McCoy as the imperfect detective is a well developed character  and I look forward to more of the same from Alan Parks. Definitely a recommended read for fans of Scottish Noir crime (Ian Rankin, Stuart McBride)
With thanks to NetGalley for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.
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