February's Son

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 31 Jan 2019

Member Reviews

From Good Reads:
This is very much as good as the first, if not better.

Dark, dark ,dark.
Piles of bodies, gangland bosses, football, sex, violence, drugs, an antihero and glimpses into a haunted past.

Literary what more do you want in a crime novel.
Really looking forward to the next one (fingers crossed we are having 12 months)
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This is absolutely sensational - not to be put down - I had been impressed but not swept away with the January volume in this series - now it all kicks in - McCoy and Murray are a good team,and the irrepressible Watson/Wattie is also finding his feet for me as reader, and in the team of police in Scotland's gritty town glasgow.. the biggest crook in town is a friend of McCoy's from a children's home they lived in as kids where Cooper looked after McCoy - and in the last dark book, McCoy had a chance to return the favour, saving Cooper. A big time crook has cancer, hisdaughter'sBF is killedand it looks like the elusive Connolly (they all know it's him) has gone seriously rogue. A feisty journalist fills out the case. The only thing that irked me is the implication that (again) where there are catholic priests there is sexual abuse of boys. I just know it's coming. But it's more complicated than that here (although not much) .. really a great series and I hope they will go no longer than the 12 months of the year which it looks like the writer is counting. Good idea of inner office workings at police station ...
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With thanks to Netgalley and the publishers for the book in exchange for an honest review.
I’m assuming that this book was in the tartan noir genre, because it was definitely dark, gritty and violent. It was based in the 1970’s Glasgow, when there was a fine line between the police and the villains. McCoy as a police officer is so badly damaged, you wonder how he ever became a police officer. The interplay between Murray and McCoy and McCoy and Wattie is like watching some of the older police tv series of the 1970’s. The relationship between Cooper and McCoy goes back to childhood when they were both in and out of care homes and it is hard to know at times who is the villain and who is the policeman. An extremely hard hitting police story, with all the good, bad and the ugly, displayed for all to see.
Highly recommended.
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When Celtic's star striker is found murdered and mutilated the Glasgow police force have a pool of suspects.  It's too horrific to be sectarian but given that the victim was the fiance of the only daughter of the Northside crime boss there's a big pool of suspects.  This is quickly narrowed down to an ex employee.  However as Harry McCoy investigates further he finds that his past and the present are set on a collision course and he may not escape.
I really enjoyed the first Harry McCoy book and this one is even better.  There is a strong sense of time and place and a deft touch with the sexist, racist, homophobic nature of 1970s policing.  Harry's backstory comes to the fore here and even the ending closes one circle but opens up a whole new set of possibilities for the future.  This is strong writing in any genre.
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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.

There is always a frisson of hesitancy when you start reading the second novel by an author whose inaugural novel is outstanding. There is that sense of worry that the first book was a one of and book two can’t possibly hope to compare. Bloody January by Alan Parks was such a stellar debut I was concerned he couldn’t possibly repeat the feat with the second Harry McCoy novel. The good news is my fears were entirely groundless. February’s Son is as good, if not better, as its predecessor.

Picking up shortly after the events of Bloody January, Harry McCoy has only been back at work a handful of hours before he has a grisly murder to solve. There is a violent psychopath stalking the city streets and Harry has to stop them before all hell breaks loose. As before McCoy remains a bit of a contradiction. Glasgow and the people from there have long had a reputation for being a bit rough around the edges. I think that is one of the things I like most about this novel. Harry McCoy certainly falls into that category. He is ‘good polis’ but he manages to retain a morally ambiguous attitude towards many things; recreational drugs being the perfect example.

Stevie Cooper also makes a welcome reappearance. Harry’s oldest friend, and rising star of the Glasgwegian criminal underworld, Cooper is just unhinged enough to be genuinely menacing. Kudos to the author. There has long been a near mythological status that surrounds the quintessential Glasgow hard man. Cooper feels like he is the living embodiment of exactly that. Always trying to prove their worth, they are driven by their own slightly skewed code of values. Cooper is all smiles and charm one minute and then uncontained violence the next. McCoy and Cooper may be on opposite sides of the law but they have a bond that transcends everything. This makes things increasingly difficult for McCoy, he can’t continue to please all the people all the time. There is going to come a point where he has to choose between his job and his friendship with Cooper. The complex relationship between these two men acts as a larger story arc, connecting Bloody January and February’s Son together seamlessly. Parks takes the opportunity to explore their collective history further in this novel and this additional insight helps to flesh out each character. There is a moment, I think you’ll know it when you read it, where you realise McCoy and Cooper are not that different from one another after all.

I am just old enough to remember the Glasgow of the 1970s and it pleases me immensely that the author has captured the city so perfectly. As I read, there are tiny descriptions and throw away lines that frequently sparked vivid memories. I love it when I really connect with an author’s work. It feels almost like the Harry McCoy novels have been written for no one else but me*. I like crime novels, but the time period and location in this case are so familiar and strike so many chords it makes the entire experience of reading that much more enjoyable.

I can guarantee that if you’ve read and enjoyed Bloody January then you’ll love February’s Son. If you haven’t read either, and you enjoy your crime fiction/tartan noir suitably dark, then do yourself a favour and check out Alan Park’s writing now. I’m looking forward to the next Harry McCoy novel already.  Based on the first two books names, I can only hope there will be at least another ten.

My musical recommendation to accompany February’s Son has a distinctly Glaswegian flavour and also manages to be time period appropriate. If The Best of Stone the Crows, especially Maggie Bell’s blistering vocals, isn’t the perfect soundtrack to Harry McCoy’s life then I don’t know what it. Gritty, bluesy soul with a Scottish vibe makes this an ideal companion for Alan Park’s fiction.

February’s Son is published by Canongate and is available from 31st January. Highly recommended.

*Based on the suitably grim nature of the books plots I’m not sure what that says about me. The less said the better.
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Brilliant sequel to Bloody January. Real, gritty and full of action. This is a compelling, page turning read. I hope there is more to come in this series.

Thank you to Netgalley for my copy.
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Set in 1973, this is the second Harry McCoy novel and follows on a few weeks after the end of book 1, "Bloody January". And what an excellent sequel it is! Harry is a detective in the Glasgow police force, quite an achievement for a boy who grew up in various children's homes and with foster parents until enrolling at age sixteen. Part of his survival is due to the protection from his continuing friendship with Stevie Cooper who ended on up on the other side of the law running prostitutes, dealing drugs and dishing out any amount of violence and threats necessary to survive. The story starts with McCoy being called out to the murder of Celtic football star Charlie Watson who is found horribly mutilated on the roof of a half built office block in the city. He was engaged to the daughter of Jake Scobie, a prominent ganglord. Scobie swears he had nothing to do with the killing and leads police in the direction of his former right hand man, a complete psychopath who appears to be spiralling out of control, a fact borne out later as events unfold. Added into the story is more detail of Harry and Stevie's childhoods with shocking revelations and people from the past coming back to haunt them. (I would definitely recommend reading the books in order to make more sense of events.) McCoy is still very much a flawed character and displays questionable judgement at times but he has the faith and loyalty of senior officer Murray and also his colleagues, and this book sees all the characters progressing and becoming more defined. Again there is much in the way of violence and strong language, and some of the settings are certainly a very grim portrayal of life in certain parts of the city. The gripping ending completely took me by surprise and has left me eagerly awaiting more from this series. Dark, atmospheric and totally absorbing!
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Although Alan Parks wrapped up the first Harry McCoy novel well, you could tell that there was unfinished business both personal and professional at the conclusion of Bloody January. Based around a historical case, Parks nonetheless had delved/descended into the murk of gangland violence and police corruption in Glasgow in the 1970s to ensure that there would undoubtedly be more dark corners to dig down into further. In February's Son Alan Parks get down and dirty once again on the mean streets of Glasgow.

Unfortunately for Harry McCoy, he has associations with both the police and the gangs that make it difficult to know where his allegiances lie. Obviously with himself above all else, since it's at least managed to keep him alive this far. That ambiguous quality to the character is what keeps things interesting and provides a broader view of life and crime on the streets, McCoy having to mix with some disreputable and distasteful types and take actions that lie well beyond the remit and the behaviour expected from a respected officer of the law, but evidently there's nothing 'normal' about crime and police methods in Glasgow in the 70s. There's a tough balance to be maintained in uncovering crime and just trying to keep a lid down on it.

That might seem like fairly standard 'maverick cop' territory, but McCoy is a much more complicated figure than that, indulging in drinking, drugs and prostitution provided by an old friendship that he has maintained with Stevie Cooper, one of the most ruthless and violent gang lords in the north of the city. Bloody January revealed however that their friendship goes back to a horrific childhood that they shared which has clearly marked them for life, and both evidently have their own ways of dealing with that experience in their choice of professions, and the moral ambiguity that lies between them.

McCoy has yet to come to terms with what Bloody January has thrown at him when February 1973 brings yet more trouble. A badly mutilated body is found at the top floor of an unfinished new office development with a message scored on his chest. It doesn't appear to be any random drug or gang related crime, but rather the man is soon identified as Charlie Jackson, a promising young playing for Celtic. Football being another of those things that create divisions in Glasgow, this could be very bad indeed, but there's another complication; Jackson was engaged to the daughter of Jake Scobie, one of the city's crime lords.

The murders and violence soon escalates in February's Son as McCoy investigates the theory that Scobie's psychopathic former right-hand man has gone off the rails in his obsession for Elaine, Scobie's daughter, and Parks' handles the crime investigation aspects of his second Harry McCoy novel just as thrillingly and with a building sense of menace as his first book. Like the first book, the novel might be set in the 70s but it's certainly not for nostalgia, even though the author captures the period well in his characterisation and in the choice of music references (this ought to really come with a soundtrack), and in the colourful language and biting humour.

Bloody January used its setting and period to delve beneath the surface glamour of the 70s to the reality of what lies beneath it. Glamour may be not something you associate with Glasgow in the 70s, but in February's Son McCoy's investigation and associates show him both sides of the social divide; the ostentatious lifestyles of the rich and privileged side by side with life for the customers of the drinking dens on the other side of town, and cops looking through catalogues to purchase necessities on the never-never. Almost invariably, those with the money are up to no good, and to gain money, power and prestige, you're going to have to get your hands dirty it seems.

McCoy likewise has to get dirty in order to get to the dark motivations that lie hidden beneath the surface glamour and social respectability. He also has to come to terms with his own dark nature and propensity for violence in February's Son when his investigations uncover other issues from his past that have never been addressed. There's consequently less of the self-conscious noir references in February's Son and maybe less of the seventies as a setting for period colour but rather by going back to this time, we are reminded of where some of the deeper divisions we see in society now come from.
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very dark, very descriptive and with a very anti-hero, hero!
February's son throws you straight in at the deep end with a seemingly quite corrupt 1970s police force, a grisly murder with more bodies piling up, drugs galore and a lead detective who is having problems of his own over and above the body count.
The pace is fast and the descriptions are pretty gruesome but the writing transports you to 1970s Glasgow incredibly effectively (well, as far as I can say having not been there in that era!).
The dual threads of murder and corruption read well together and I will seek out the previous novel to fill myself in with some back story of Harry and look forward to meeting him again (perhaps in March?!)
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Gritty. Dark. Violent. Glasgow February 1973. This is the background & setting to February's Son the second book in the Harry McCoy series by Alan Parks.

McCoy faces a particularly gruesome murder on his first day back at work after some time off recovering from the traumas he faced in book one. The victim is a young promising footballer but why and of course by whom are just two of the questions facing McCoy and his colleagues.

The writing is intense as 1970s Glasgow comes alive espevially its violent underbelly. 

If you want a cosy crime book then this isn't one for you but noir or hardboiled readers will thoroughly enjoy it. Highly recommended
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Glasgow in the 1970s this is a brilliant Scottish noir crime thriller that portrays that time brilliantly.
It is the second book in this series and personally i wish i had read the first book Bloody January first but it was still a great read and i will be looking out for further books by Alan Parks.
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This is a book that both brutal and fabulous.

Set among the scene of gangsters in Scotland it is a good look at how it was in the 70's 

This really wasn't my kind of read but I was hooked with the writing and the language the author used. 

It is twisted and vicious and I can see a lot of readers would love it
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February’s Son is another very good, very dark thriller from Alan Parks.

Be warned, this is about as Noir as it gets; it’s cold, wet and dark all the time, there is some horrible violence and some very unpleasant characters, plus liberal (although entirely realistic) use of the f- and c-words.  Parks is a good enough writer to forge this into a convincing and gripping novel.

It is February 1973 in Glasgow, just a few weeks after the events of Bloody January (which I would recommend you read first).  DI McCoy’s shady relationship with Stevie Cooper continues as their joint childhood history comes back with a bang, and there’s a deranged gangland hit-man on a killing spree.  A tangled (but comprehensible) plot develops involving the manhunt, struggles for power in the criminal underworld and historical child abuse.  The latter is a terribly over-used trope in crime fiction nowadays, but again, Parks handles it with real skill so that it never seems like a lazy device but is a genuine part of the story.  The prose and dialogue are excellent, painting very realistic portraits of both the setting and the characters and he paces and structures the story very well.

I have to say that the climax did get a bit silly and over-the-top, but it didn’t spoil my enjoyment.  I thought this was very good and this is shaping up to be a very fine series.  Recommended.

(My thanks to Canongate for an ARC via NetGalley.)
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Alan Parks writes the darkest of Scottish Noir and establishes himself as a heavyweight crime fiction author with this sequel to his debut, the harrowing Bloody January, set in a brutal Glasgow in the winter of 1973. DI Harry McCoy has been recalled early by Chief Inspector Hector Murray to lead an investigation into the gruesome murder of a promising Celtic footballer, whose fiancee just happens to be Elaine Scobie, the daughter of a ageing Glasgow gang leader. The suspect is clear from the beginning, a lethal killer consumed with a deadly obsession for Elaine. There are disturbing insights into the wily killer's mind in the narrative, but the police are thwarted at every turn when it comes to arresting him. The suicide of a homeless man in a church brings back the terrifyingly haunted past of McCoy, sparking a thirst for vengeance that threatens to unravel everything that matters in his life, including his mental health.

Nature abhors a vacuum, and when one appears in Glasgow's ganglands, it kicks off a vicious no-holds barred gang war as new drugs flood the city. And McCoy's friend, Stevie Cooper, a man he has been warned to stay away from, sits in the centre, like a spider with a spreading web that takes in every aspect of Glasgow's criminal underworld. With his life in danger, Harry is determined to get to the truth of a twisted and bizarre investigation that involves more murders, lobotomies, abductions and more as danger stalks him everywhere. Readers should be warned that Parks creates an authentically brutal and bleak picture of a Glasgow in the 1970s with its notorious hard men and a police force often in cahoots with the criminals, aiming to deal with only the worst aspects of the gang world. This is a fantastic, atmospheric, mesmerising and utterly gripping addition to this stunning series and I am looking forward with great anticipation to the next book. Highly recommended! Many thanks to Canongate for an ARC.
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Gritty police drama set in 1970s Glasgow. The scene is all too grim and reminiscent of the time; the body count builds up; corruption abounds, Harry McCoy, the main character, is himself gritty and damaged - just how much we find as we read on. It's certainly not comfortable reading but is somewhat compelling and you certainly root for McCoy in-spite of his actions at times. Well written and well described characters and places. Not really my cup of tea but four stars for overall quality of the book.
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The second novel to feature Detective Harry Mc Coy and just as dark as the first one...but even better! Set in 1970's Glasgow this book took me back to my youth living in Glasgow. Gangland warfare, murders, violence, a weird plot,excellent writing and a touch of dark humour thrown in. What's not to love? I look forward to reading more. Thanks to Net Galley for my ARC. Reviews on Facebook and Goodreads.
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Set in the early 1970’s in Glasgow which, at the time, was a dark violent place and the police “polis” were a suitable match. Glasgow is my home town and I recognise the place and the era in this book. It’s gritty with a capital G and certainly not for the faint hearted. McCoy is an old school copper who returns to work and straight into a very messy case.

There’s corruption and blood everywhere in this book and it’s a struggle for McCoy to keep his head above water, told from his perspective it gets quite claustrophobic at times.

A rollicking good read for those who like off piste policing- following the procedure was not top priority at the time.

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Thrilling follow up to Alan Park’s Bloody January, taking place just one month after the previous book. Refreshingly there’s little of the endless exposition you can find in crime series, previous events are referred to in passing but there’s an assumption you’ve read it and can get on with business. If Bloody January this bleak, this is nigh on soul-destroying, with more depth explored in the relationships between the police and the underworld. With less  violence against women than the first book, this explores a different field of torture, abuse and revenge.

I don’t think i’m selling this... it is expertly told and thoroughly absorbing, but by no means escapism!
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It’s been three weeks since the events of that bloody January. Harry McCoy is about to return to work with the Glasgow police hoping for some more quiet times. But when Murray calls him in early, he knows that it must be serious: a young football stars has been found, not just killed but also mutilated. It is obvious quickly that his fame as sports stars wasn’t the reason for his killing, it is much more his engagement with the daughter one of Glasgow’s underworld bosses. And then it all gets very personal: Harry’s past is going to catch up with him and the eager policeman loses control.

I already really liked the first instalment of the Harry McCoy series, but the second was actually even better. This is especially due to the fact that the protagonist gets more contours, becomes more human and thus his character and decision making becomes understandable. The development and insight in this character was for me the strongest and most interesting in reading “February’s Son”.

Again the murder case is quite complex and all but foreseeable. Different cases are actually linked and it takes some time until you understand their connection and their particular relevance for McCoy. The whole series is set in 1973 which means there is a fairly different atmosphere in comparison to many novels set today. Glasgow is an all but friendly town constantly at war, the police’s job is to prevent the worst, not to take care of minor misdoings and therefore, they sometimes need to find less legal ways to keep the upper hand. The tone is harsh at times, certainly nothing for the highly sensitive. Fights are part of everyday life and a bleeding nose is nothing to worry too much about. Yet, this all fits perfectly and creates an authentic atmosphere of a time long gone. It will not be easy to outstrip this novel with a third.
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This story starts with a nicely nasty prologue and then Harry McCoy is back.  There is an unpleasant murder scene of someone who may be well known.  Assorted bodies are involved in this dark police story from 1970s Glasgow.
The book essentially carries on from the author's earlier book Bloody January.  The characters are allowed to develop further in this book and McCoy seems little changed from the last book.  However it does seem possible that his past may come back to haunt him again and to challenge his views on law and order.  These are a little shaky at the best of times!  While this book could be read as a standalone story I would recommend anyone who hasn't read the first book to do so first.  It's a good read and provides useful background to some of the key characters.
It is worth mentioning that this book is fairly violent and does use quite a bit of bad language.  That said I'm imagine that is perfectly appropriate for the 1970s crime scene in Glasgow. It's a tense and well paced read.  Some of the main characters have developed nicely over the two books as far as I am concerned.  I find McCoy - another troubled detective - a very good character.
My only real reservation about this book is that, if I'm honest, I found one of the story lines rather far fetched.  That said I enjoyed reading this dark and at times powerful tale.  I certainly intend to read the next one.
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