Bloody January

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Pub Date 28 Dec 2017 | Archive Date 16 Dec 2017


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 establishes Alan Parks as a new and exciting voice in Scottish noir.

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...

Advance Praise

‘Bloody and brilliant. This smasher from Alan Parks is a reminder of how dark Glasgow used to be’ LOUISE WELSH

'Taut, violent and as close as you'll get to 1970s Glasgow without a Tardis. Parks is a natural successor to William McIIvanney.' JOHN NIVEN

'A blistering plot, unforgettable characters and writing so sharp it's like it's been written with a knife. Detective McCoy is a true noir antihero and Bloody January firmly sets Alan Parks in the same league as Ian Rankin and Louise Welsh.’ SARAH PINBOROUGH
‘Seriously good. Its brilliantly evocative of the 1970s in Glasgow (and I should know as I was there!). I loved Alan Parks’ characters and I want to read a lot more of Detective Harry McCoy please!’  ALEX GRAY

‘A barnstormer of a crime novel that takes the police procedural and gives it a well-deserved shake. Bloody January is relentless readable and so well written I couldn’t believe it was a debut’ RUSSELL McLEAN

‘Bloody and brilliant. This smasher from Alan Parks is a reminder of how dark Glasgow used to be’ LOUISE WELSH

'Taut, violent and as close as you'll get to 1970s Glasgow without a Tardis. Parks is a...

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ISBN 9781786891334
PRICE $21.00 (USD)

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Featured Reviews

I would like to thank Netgalley and Canongate Books for an advance copy of Bloody January, the first in a projected series of police procedurals set in 1970s Glasgow to feature detective Harry McCoy.

Harry gets a call to go to Barlinnie prison where violent inmate, Howie Nairn, tells him that a young girl called Lorna who works in a posh restaurant is going to be killed soon. It's not a lot to go on and Harry doesn't think much of the information but eventually decides to look in to it. He locates her, only to see her shot dead in front of him and her killer then shoot himself. Chief Inspector Murray, Harry's boss, wants to know why.

I am predisposed to liking crime fiction with a Scottish setting, especially those set in my old home town of Glasgow but Bloody January has surpassed all my expectations and is an excellent début. I won't sugarcoat it so it is bleak, violent and full of swearing but it is extremely realistic with some wonderful period detail.

I don't know where to start with my praise. The 1973 setting is vividly and realistically described and it takes me back. It's the little things like ice on the inside of the windows (central heating was a luxury back then in Glasgow) which bring it to life and add authenticity. The dialogue is also realistic, too much swearing, but that's the way it probably still is between men, with a bit of vernacular, not enough to put non Glaswegians off but enough to give a flavour. There are very few modern sensibilities in the novel and Mr Parks has produced a very authentic novel.

The plotting is tight and tense. There isn't much new in it but Mr Parks does a wonderful job putting his own spin on it. The idea of rich men getting away with whatever they want is universal and it seems as if it always will be. He had me glued to the pages from start to finish.

I also love the sense of ambiguity in the novel. None of the characters can hold the moral high ground but it is often circumstances and history that dictate how far up or down the hill they stand. The whiff of corruption is pervasive and makes for great reading.

Harry Vincent McCoy is at first glance a stereotypical detective, foul mouthed, borderline alcoholic with a recreational drug habit and a penchant for prostitutes and low company. There are hints in the novel of the reasons for this but I think more will be revealed as the series progresses - I can't wait. He is also, smart, resourceful and vengeful.

Bloody January is an excellent read, possibly my book of the year so far, which I recommend wholeheartedly.

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First book in what I anticipate (hope) will be a new series. This very gritty, very realistic crime novel set in 1973 Glasgow was excellent. Detective Harry McCoy is summoned to Barlinnie prison by an inmate who has information about an upcoming hit. When that hit shortly occurs right in front of him, the trail leads to some pretty powerful people in Glasgow and McCoy is warned off the case multiple times.

Detective Harry McCoy at first glance seemed a little cliche-ish as he has a troubled past, feuds with his superiors, uses drugs and alcohol liberally and isn't overly particular about how he gets the job done, but he became so much more complex as the story unfolded. Rich in characters with a morally complex plot and a no frills delivery, I loved this book. If you like Stuart McBride or Adrian McKinty, you will also enjoy it. Thanks to Net Galley and the publisher for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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From the start this book is highly atmospheric. It says that those who were not around for the events of Bloody January say it "can't have been that bad - but they were wrong". Effectively the whole story takes place in the early part of January 1973 although reference is made to earlier events too. Harry McCoy, a cop who may be one of the "good guys" gets a tip off from an inmate in Barlinnie prison of a forthcoming murder. He's not sure why he was selected for the information nor exactly what he can do about it as it is not very specific.

The story follows the investigation of this and other crimes. Throughout this book I got a very clear feel of the 70s and Glasgow. It is often hard and dirty and I guess some folk may find parts of this offensive but it seemed appropriate to me. The language is very colloquial generally. It starts dark and frankly gets darker. Much though I like the character of McCoy it would be hard to point to anyone who is on the side of the angels by the end of this!

Harry McCoy is the standout character here and I liked him a lot. He is flawed - drink, drugs and at least one undesirable friend underpin that. However he is also an attractive person. The other characters are mostly more sketched than filled out however that didn't detract from the book for me. Even sketched they were very rooted in the time and place as Harry was.

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It is dark and dirty but even that is well done. The morality of almost all the characters can be questioned - the "good" guys just as much as they criminals. That added some depth and layers to this crime story and it was better for that. For me it clearly captured place and time in the narrative. There were odd times when I felt the story was somewhat disjointed but never to a degree that bothered me. I really would like to read Alan Parks's next book.

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Hopefully, there will be more from this author. The book is raw and demanding of the reader's emotions. The description of 1970's Glasgow is credible and unfortunately true. There are no goodies for the reader to support. The criminals and the police would all face criminal charges. That is part of the attraction of the story.

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review this book ahead of publication. I have not been paid for providing this review and is my own honest opinion of the book.
A debut publication from Alan Parks set in 1973 Glasgow and introducing McCoy a far from traditional detective. To say McCoy’s methods are unconventional is an understatement, as is the company he keeps.
As someone who is from the West of Scotland and familiar with all the areas of Glasgow referred to this just added to my interest as I could visualize where events were taking place.
The story starts with the shooting of a young woman at the main bus station and the young man who commits the crime then turns the gun on himself. Don’t wish to give away any more of the story, but events spiral out of control as McCoy and his rookie sidekick Wattie investigate.
In summary a great first novel and hopefully the first of many more to come featuring McCoy.

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Super old fashioned police yarn,loads of graphic violence with a slightly bent hero and his virgin sidekick upto their ears in dodgy dealings. Starts with a bang with two murders in quick succession the pace is relentless,throw in seedy nobility,dubious senior cops and you have pure entertainment!

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Thank you Net Galley and the Publisher for allowing me to read and review "Bloody January" by Alan Parks.

The book is what I describe as Scottish noir crime (think Rebus in the '70s), and centers around the seeming random killings of a young woman, the boy who killed her and the con who tipped off the police to the crime-to-be. At times it seems as though not one of the characters has any redeeming qualities (cops taking drugs, drinking to excess, frequenting 'ladies of the evening' and still trying to solve crimes...), but this is definitely a book worth reading if you enjoy crime noir. Definitely deserves the 4-star rating I give.

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really enjoyed this one. for a first novel, I was really impressed how this story took off and held my interest from the very first chapter. this is rough and tough Glasgow in the early 70's where crime is gritty and corruption abounds. Det McCoy gets the case of young man who shoots a young woman and then himself. he is joined by a rookie officer and they create a nice dynamic as they navigate criminals, bosses, hookers, the privileged , etc on their way to getting answers. McCoy is no saint himself as he associates with the underworld and their rulers. his tortured background is parsed out throughout the story. this is not for the faint of heart, it is gritty, there is liberal use of foul language and the crimes are quite sadistic. reminded me a bit of the original tartan noir tale Laidlaw by William McIlvanney. thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for a review copy and this is definitely a series I will continue with as I look forward to what is next for these characters.

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I would first like to thank NetGallery and Canongate Books for sending me an advanced copy of Bloody January in exchange for this review.

Bloody January follows Detective Harry McCoy through the dark underworld of crime in Glasgow in the 1970s. I have never read a crime book like this ever before, I loved the seeing the dark side of crime and the struggles in comparison to most other detective novels that I have read where they don't delve nearly as much into the characters past as Bloody January does. The character of Harry McCoy is incredibly written, what starts off as a seemingly cliché alcoholic, slightly drug addicted and foul-mouthed Detective quickly deepens into a story of  a man with a troubled childhood who has dealt with child loss and relationship breakdowns. You can really sympathise with the character and he might just be one of my favourite written characters ever.

McCoy is called into Barlinnie Prison by the request of dangerous criminal Howie Nairn to be told a girl called Lorna who works at a restaurant somewhere near. McCoy disregards the brief warning at first before changing his mind and, with his new partner Wattie in tow, goes to investigate. McCoy manages to track her down but not soon enough, McCoy and Wattie witness Lorna being shot by a young boy who then quickly turns the gun on himself and kills himself. McCoy goes back to Howie Nairn only to find him dead too. With the body count mounting McCoy's boss Detective Inspector Murray needs him to find out why. 

I found the book's setting to be very realistic, from what I know about the 70s, and extremely well written, from the weather and environment, to the excessive swearing and the little David Bowie moment in there, the setting for 1970s Glasgow was perfect and easy to picture.

Bloody January does include the typical idea of the rich and influential people and families being almost immune to the law and justice as most crime literary/movies show. However this one I found more enjoyable due to the nature of what it was concerning. The book just gets darker the further more you read into it and just grips the reader in not letting go. Bloody January's characters also notably don't have a defined 'good' and 'evil' role in which they play in the book, the characters are all a mix of both which I found much better and much more true to life.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and will be definitely purchasing myself a physical copy of the book when it is officially released on the 28th December 2017.

Would I read it again? Yes
My Rating: 5/5 Stars

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A great read. I really enjoyed this totally convincing picture of Glasgow in the 1970s, with all its violence and grit - does for Scotland's second city what Ian Rankin did for Edinburgh with his Rebus crime novels.

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This is a very good debut novel, set in Glasgow in January 1973. It's well written and it captures the time and place extremely well. McCoy's Glasgow is a cold, dark, miserable place populated by violent criminals, drug addicts, alcoholics, prostitutes, the lost and the dispossessed. It certainly isn't a nice, cosy detective novel. It's gritty, dark and bloody.

It opens with Detective Harry McCoy making his way through Barlinnie prison having been summoned there (apparently) by an inmate, who tells McCoy that a girl called Lorna is going to be killed the next day in the city centre.

Despite managing to identify 'Lorna' while waiting to speak to her she is shot dead, in front of McCoy and his new sidekick Wattie, by a teenage boy who then shoots himself. Later that day, they find out the prisoner who told McCoy about the girl being killed has been found in the prison showers with his throat slit. No witnesses of course.

There is not much to go on to link the deaths. No obvious connection but McCoy has contacts in the criminal underworld and his enquiries eventually lead him to the home of the very wealthy Dunlop family. Despite any suspicions he might have, he is ordered from those higher up to stay away from the Dunlops. The whole thing reeks of corruption and the possibility that the rich and well-connected are above the law.

Like many fictional detectives, Harry McCoy is somewhat flawed. Possibly more than most. He is potentially an alcoholic, uses recreational drugs, frequents prostitutes and associates with criminals. I'm not sure if I've read a book where the main character seems to get so many 'doings' or severe beatings and yet still manages to keep his job and continue to solve cases. There are strong references to problems in his past but we don't know the whole story. He's known gangster Stevie Cooper since they were boys and gets information and contacts through him but at what cost?

'Wattie' has been transferred from another area to experience big city police work, and is assigned to McCoy to shadow him and learn the ropes. He's young, bright and keen. McCoy didn't want to be lumbered with someone but had no choice in the matter. Wattie has really been thrown in at the deep end with three deaths on his first day out with McCoy.

Harry McCoy doesn't have many redeeming features and yet there is something interesting about him. I'm hoping this will be the first book in a series and that maybe in time he will get his act together and start to sort out his personal life.

An excellent violent, dark, crime novel.

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I enjoyed this book, It was fast moving. It had quite a few twists and turns. The characters were well defined. The usual damaged detective going against the advice of senior officers, but determined to see justice done. Well written, but not for the faint hearted. There are a lot of four-letter words in it, although they are appropriate to the content. They are normal police/criminal dialogue .

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Set in atmospheric Glasgow in the 1970s. Detective Harry Mc Coy is trying to solve a series of murders. The atmosphere is very well created and the writing is so good it is easy to imagine yourself there. The language and the violence in the book add to the realism. This is a page turner of a story and Mc Coy is an unforgettable character. I hope there are more books about him.

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Wow! What a debut novel! The story follows detective Harry McCoy set in the 1970's in dark, miserable Glasgow.
The pace was fast moving, full of twists and turns. Very well written, very graphic with lots of bad language which is fitting for the story. Definitely not for the faint hearted! I absolutely loved it, a gripping page turner which I really hope is the start of a fantastic series!
Thank you to Netgalley and the publishers for my advance copy in return for an honest review.

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I enjoyed this book a lot. The setting in Glasgow added to the grittiness of the drama and I enjoyed reading about the old places and the redevelopment in the seventies, around the time the story is set. The actual story of the murder is very good but is overshadowed by the excellent back story of Harry. It is very gory and has graphically described violence which I found a bit too much at times but I did understand that it was integral to the plot and setting. An excellent gritty detective novel

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A dark and gritty novel set in 70's Glasgow following Detective McCoy as he investigates the seemingly random shooting of a young girl and subsequent suicide of the young man who shot her. The case eventually leads McCoy and his rookie partner Wattie to a powerful criminal and several more deaths along the way.
I enjoyed this story although the main character McCoy was a hard-drinking, drug-taking, blase type who visits prostitutes in his spare time.
Hopefully the start of a series and captured the gritty realism of 1970's Glasgow very well.
Thanks to Netgalley for the advance review copy.

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Loved this book!
Unfortunately, I remember the1970’s very vividly – it really took me back.
This book is a realistic police procedural; with rich credible characters which is dark, gritty and bloody. Relentlessly readable and so well written I found it hard to believe it was a debut.
Set in 1970 Glasgow it is a deliciously dark read - I recommend locking the door and leaving the lights on!
I can’t wait to read a lot more of Detective Harry McCoy in the near future - please!
Thank you Net Galley and the Publisher for allowing me to read and review "Bloody January" by Alan Parks

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Detective Harry McCoy knows something, told to him by an informant currently residing in Barlinnie prison.

Now a young has killed himself after shooting dead a waitress.

Glasgow 1973 is not a good place, it is a violent place with crime bosses, bent cops and people know their place.

This debut novel is seriously brilliant and for me it was like watching one of those old cop TV shows come to life between the pages.

A fast paced and dramatic read, the setting really takes you their. The music, the styles and dialect is what makes this a winner.

I really loved it and I highly recommend

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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 & if Harry should pop up in a book #2, I’ll be more than happy to go along for the ride.

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This was brilliant and I hope it's not a one off. The early 70s came back to life with care and attention to detail and the characters with all their flaws and negative traits were really believable. Cannot recommend this highly enough.

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