Bobby March Will Live Forever

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Pub Date 25 Feb 2021 | Archive Date 25 Feb 2021
Canongate, Black Thorn

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There's a heatwave in Glasgow and the drugs trade is booming. The whole force is searching for missing thirteen-year-old Alice Kelly. All except Harry McCoy, who has been taken off the case after a run-in with the boss, and is instead sent alone to investigate the death of rock-star Bobby March, who has just overdosed in the Royal Stuart hotel.

The papers want blood. The force wants results. McCoy has a hunch. But does he have enough time?


There's a heatwave in Glasgow and the drugs trade is booming. The whole force is searching for missing thirteen-year-old Alice Kelly. All except Harry McCoy...

A Note From the Publisher

The third book in the #HarryMcCoy series, which began with Bloody January and February's Son, sees Detective McCoy investigate the disappearance of several young girls across Glasgow, and the overdose of the city's beloved rockstar legend, Bobby March.

The third book in the #HarryMcCoy series, which began with Bloody January and February's Son, sees Detective McCoy investigate the disappearance of several young girls across Glasgow, and the...

Advance Praise

'Even better than its predecessors . . . Its plot twists and turns, provoking laughter and tears . . . Fascinating and dangerous . . . Parks has clearly studied the masters of tartan noir but has his own voice. He shows how, among the welter of violence, a spontaneous act of kindness can have just as great an impact'
The Times, Book of the Month

'Addictive reading'

'Draws the reader in with equal parts of twist and grit . . . It’s McCoy, though, who makes this series something special – he’s multi-layered and three-dimensional, with his own idiosyncratic work ethic . . . With this third instalment of the McCoy books, Parks has continued to build a series that no crime fan should miss: dangerous, thrilling, but with a kind voice to cut through the darkness'

'Alan Parks has swiftly established himself as an exciting new voice in the world of tartan noir . . . Parks knows the city intimately, and this comes across effortlessly on the page'
Scotland on Sunday

'Parks captures the feel of a city long vanished in a breathless and tense retro crime caper'
The Sun

Praise for Alan Parks:

'An old-school cop novel written with wit and economy . . . Think McIlvanney or Get Carter'
IAN RANKIN        

'A potent tale of death . . . Alan Parks's excellent first novel propels him into the top class of Scottish noir authors . . . Detective Harry McCoy . . . is so noir that he makes most other Scottish cops seem light grey'
The Times, Book of the Month on Bloody January     

'1970s Glasgow hewn from flesh and drawn in blood'
PETER MAY        

'The latest star of Tartan noir — perhaps even a successor to the late, great William McIlvanney . . . Gripping, utterly authentic and nerve-jangling, this novel announces a fine new voice in crime writing'
Daily Mail    
'Gripping and violent, dark and satisfying. I flew through it'

'Bloody and brilliant. This smasher from Alan Parks is a reminder of how dark Glasgow used to be'

'[McCoy] is a great character and his patch and period are vividly and skilfully portrayed. Denise Mina and Ian Rankin had better watch out'
Evening Standard
'Gripping and well-crafted'
'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 the perfect guide through the vice and violence of Glasgow's underbelly. Bloody January firmly sets Alan Parks in the same league as Ian Rankin and Louise Welsh'
SARAH PINBOROUGH, bestselling author of BEHIND HER EYES              

'Seriously good. It's 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!
ALEX GRAY        

A brilliant debut. 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 riveting journey through the grim and gritty dark side of 1970s Glasgow . . . A powerful slab of tartan noir'

'Pitch-black tartan noir, set in Seventies Glasgow . . . Compelling . . . With an emotional heart that's hard to ignore'
Daily Mail        

'The no-holds-barred action and dialogue smack you in the face like a Glasgow kiss. Cracking'
The Sun

'Even better than its predecessors . . . Its plot twists and turns, provoking laughter and tears . . . Fascinating and dangerous . . . Parks has clearly studied the masters of tartan noir but has his...

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Average rating from 37 members

Featured Reviews

Set in July 1973, this is the third story in the series and follows on a few months after the end of books 1 and 2. And it's an excellent addition to the series! 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 Glasgow sweltering in a heat wave and lots has happened since February. Harry's boss Chief Inspector Murray has been seconded out to Central for six months, leaving Bernard Raeburn as Acting Detective Inspector. This is a man who has had it in for Harry ever since Harry requested a transfer away from him and the dodgy backhanders he encouraged years ago. It was widely believed that it was probably only Raeburn's friends in high places (the masons) who had kept him out of trouble for so long. There are a few different strands running as the book begins. A thirteen year old girl has gone missing from home, with the police and media all starting to come to the conclusion that she has been taken or killed by a paedophile. A famous pop star guitarist originally from Glasgow has been found dead in his hotel room and there has also been a spate of vicious armed robberies. With Raeburn wanting the glory for finding the missing girl, Harry is allowed nowhere near the investigation and gets given all the rubbish jobs, including these other two cases. Then to cap it all, Murray reappears wanting Harry to find his missing niece - completely off the books. No wonder Harry is frequently to be found in a pub!! It was gripping, watching and waiting to see if all the different cases would start to converge as the events of that month unravel with alarming consequences for some of the characters. Again there is much in the way of violence, drug dealing and poverty, and some of the settings are certainly a very grim portrayal of life in certain parts of the city. The author makes a great job of conveying a real sense of sadness and despair at many of the lives of the people there. I would definitely recommend reading the books in order to make more sense of events. Many of the old faces, like Jumbo, Stevie and Iris are back again and this time there is less by way of introduction or explanation of the history between them. Harry is still a bit flawed, probably more jaded than before and displays questionable judgement at times but he is still basically a good man put in awful situations sometimes, and this book sees all the characters progressing and becoming more defined. The ending was both shocking and surprising, and leaves lots of doors open for more from this series which I am sincerely hoping for soon. Dark, atmospheric and totally absorbing! 5*

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I received this from Netgalley, only to realize it was third in a series. So I set it aside and ran out to find the first two entries. And so glad I did. Alan Parks is now an author I will pre-order in the future without needing to know anything about the book. A young girl has been kidnapped and the press is crying for results from the police. Harry McCoy, however, has been sidelined to work on a string of robberies. His DCI, Murray, has been seconded to another station, and his nemesis, Raeburn, is in the charge of the station, and the kidnapping. When the investigation goes tragically sideways, it is up to Harry to find the truth. All while heroin makes inroads into Glasgow of the early 70s.

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A stellar cast of characters come together in mid 70's Glasgow. A dark and ominous tale of gangland life. Gritty, violent and dark from the outset. It'll have you burning the midnight oil as the plot thickens and you have to keep going. Really excellent work and Highly recommended

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This is the first book I’ve read by this author and it certainly maintained my interest. We’re taken back to July 1973, in a very hot Glasgow where the drugs business is blooming. Detective Harry McCoy is at war with his present boss, Raeburn, who gives him some unsolved robberies to work on. Three different story lines run through the book, and McCoy is not officially working on any of them. There is the death by overdose of rock star Bobby March, the abduction of a 13-year-old girl, and the disappearance of McCoy’s previous boss’s niece. I think I’m in love with McCoy! He’s a very clever and down to earth detective with high standards who is totally loyal to his colleagues and friends, yet who blends in very easily with the criminals of the underworld. This is a fast-paced book and I did get slightly lost a couple of times, but I think this is because I haven’t read the previous books in the series and therefore didn’t know some of the characters as well as I could have. An enjoyable read and well-written.

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This is the first time that I have read any novels by Alan Parks but it will hopefully not be the last. It took a little bit of persistence to continue reading and thus to begin to enjoy the story at first, but eventually I began to 'get into' the story and to look forward to reading the next part. The violent episodes are not to my taste, but as they are an intrinsic part of the story, they were understood to be part of the plot. The story is placed in a 1973 time slot and thus being of an era that I can remember. The sixties/ seventies 'sex, drugs and rock n' roll' vibe comes as part of the underlying theme of the plot. Add in Northern Ireland and 'The Troubles' and it was like reading about news bulletins of that time! I can recommend this book to those who enjoy 'Police Drama' stories, including the nitty gritty of everyday life on the streets of Glasgow.

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A great Tartan Noir whodunnit set in the grim reality of 1970s Glasgow. Harry McCoy is an honest cop in a corrupt police force. He struggles to do the right thing depite the efforts of his criminal friends. With his sidekick Wattie, he deals with the death of a popstar, the disappearance of a young girl and some old fashioned armed robberies. This was my first Harry McCoy book but I'm going back to read Alan Parks' earlier work. Great police drama!

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Good solid crime story with lots of different strands - Bobby March, drugs, missing girls, plus personal issues for McCoy involving a superior officer and his ex-wife.. Plenty of Glasgow references and Glaswegian voices. Dark and gritty most of the time with the odd light patch. Blood and gore aplenty and some unpleasant (fortunately off-screen, so to speak) descriptions of violence. McCoy's world is one of criminals and dealers and users - and those are just his friends!

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A heat wave is hanging over Glasgow in July 1973 setting the scene for a tense and claustrophobic thriller. Bobby March, Glasgow's greatest rock star, has been found dead in his hotel bed. Young Alice Kelly has disappeared yards from her home. Detective Harry McCoy is kept away from the major crimes and is tasked with a series of bank robberies and locating the young niece of a superior officer. McCoy's drug underworld connections however, put him central to Alice and Bobby's cases. This is a brilliantly written book - short sentences and Glaswegian dialect aplenty. The plot lines and characters are intricately linked, like a spider's web. A must read!

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Received an ARC in exchange for a review I hadn't realised that there were two previous books. Although it was a little bit on the slow side I did enjoy this book. A retro novel set in the 70s when life was very different., The atmosphere was well created even if at first I did a double take on the temperature from before realising it was Fahrenheit and not centigrade . I like Harry McCoy as a detective- shades of Rebus about him and not just the Scottish setting. A good solid story with well written characters and very enjoyable.

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I realised that I had reviewed this book before. My review is below. Brilliant. A gritty and dark story set in the early 1970s in Glasgow. Very well written with big believable characters. This is a great series. This book had me gripped from the start. It feels true to life and raw. Thank you to Netgalley for my copy.

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The Daily Mail described Alan Parks as the latest star of Tartan Noir! I fully agree! I quickly immersed in the period detail, the intimate knowledge of a great sprawling city, and the music industry that played out as a meandering sub-plot. While covering several threads, the storyline wove beautifully together, with occasional connections and surprises. Detective Harry McCoy stole the limelight, with his back story, friendships and feuds, and the gritty attention to detail. The plot provoked many emotions, and despite a torrent of violence, an act of spontaneous kindness also lent a powerful counter-influence. The book gripped me from start to finish, and I will be revisiting Alan Parks! Ian Rankin was always a favourite of mine, but now he has a rival! I highly recommend Bobby March Will Live Forever.

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As usual in my reviews, I will not rehash the plot - if that's what you're looking for, there are plenty of reviews like that out there already! This is the first of the "Harry McCoy" series that I've read - but it didn't matter as this novel works just as well as a standalone, with plenty of background about the characters. The multi-stranded plot is well conceived, and there are some well-rounded characters - you can visualise them - and their voices are authentic. The book is set in the 60s/70s, and the scene setting evoked the spirit of those times. There is plenty of action, and - despite some violent scenes - this was a definite page turner for me. Looking forward to reading the next in the series (and plan to read the previous two novels also). My thanks to NetGalley and the publishers for an ARC. All opinions my own.

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Harry McCoy has been sidelined from the high profile investigation into the disappearance of a young girl at the beginning of Glasgow's Fair Fortnight, after a run in with a vindictive colleague. The heat is soaring, tempers are flaring, the beer and whisky aren't helping. McCoy is asked to investigate the disappearance of a well-connected teenager as a favour to a senior colleague, as well as his work looking into the apparent overdose of fading rock star Bobby March. Glasgow in the 1970s is drawn so carefully you can smell the sweat and the rubbish. McCoy is complex and flawed, as are the people he deals with, to maintain order rather than the rule of law. There are some elements that didn't work so well for me, including the interweaving of cameos from known historical characters, but that's a minor thing in a book so well crafted. I hadn't realised that this is the third in a series (the first of which is in my 'to be read' pile). I look forward to more!

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Absolutely brilliant book and definitely not to be missed. When I started to read this book (first book I have read about Harry McCoy) I thought it would be the Glaswegian equivalent of Edinburgh's John Rebus. Some similarities but Harry, to me, is more of an anti-hero and seems to have more friends in the more dubious side of Glasgow than on the good side. Still.... that's what the book is about. Very, very easy to get into the characters even though there are 3 or 4 interwoven storylines - one of which is Bobby March, covered primarily in a series of flashbacks - given he is dead at the start of the book! After reading this book and really enjoying it I am sure that many will rate this 5 out of 5 but others may no be as impressed as I was. Literary taste is very much based on subjective opinion and fortunately we are not all alike. I wasn't quite certain how the book would end but for me the ending was as good as it could have been Thoroughly recommended

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Bobby March Will Live Forever by Alan Parks is brilliant. It starts off at a cracking pace and doesn’t let up until the last page, it has several overlapping plot threads which you struggle to see how they will get tied together, it has twists and turns and surprises and most of all it is dark. I loved it. Harry McCoy is a rebellious detective at war with his ambitious senior officer and excluded from the search for a young girl who has been abducted. Instead he is diverted into two dead end cases, the overdose of rock musician Bobby March and a series of unsolved violent robberies – both lead to unexpected conclusions. Meanwhile his childhood friend, protector and Glasgow crime boss is spaced out on heroin and his empire is in danger of collapsing. How does this all work out? Well worth reading to see. Alan Parks is a newish Scottish writer (at least to me), his Harry McCoy series will appeal to anyone who enjoys Rebus.

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This is a really gritty crime story set in Glasgow in the 1970s. Harry McCoy is a hardened detective, with some rather dubious 'friends'. He comes over as a hard-bitten, cynical man in his 50s, actually we learn he is only 30! A young girl has gone missing and all the police are searching for her... except McCoy who has got on the wrong side of his superior officer, Raeburn, who is leading the investigation and uses the opportunity to sideline Harry to look at some cases he has failed to solve. Raeburn has serious issues with McCoy, who he is convinced is trying to jeopardise his career. Another senior officer wants Harry to find his neice who has gone missing, but wants him to do it unofficially. Harry's efforts take him to the darker side of Glasgow and over to Northern Ireland in the times of the Troubles and bring him into serious personal danger. A pacy and interesting story, set against the background of a violent city. McCoy comes over as an interesting character, walking the line between being an honest copper but with one foot in the underworld. I'd like to read more about him. Thank you to NetGalley, Canongate and Black Thorn for allowing me access to the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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I never repeat the blurb. Another nostalgic and enjoyable case for our retro crew. Not quite as good as the first two, but I'm definitely going to read part 4.

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Ah, the good old days when the polis could beat a confession oot ye and naebody cared. Alan Parks perfectly captures the mood of the era in "Bobby March Will Live Forever". The book is the third in the DI Harry McCoy series of gritty, Glaswegian '70s crime fiction but also works well as a standalone. Parks has superior powers of observation, breathing new life into the mundane. A brief exchange between McCoy and a taxi driver elicited an amused bark of recognition from this reader. I loved seeing Glasgow through the eyes of Parks' characters - the Barras, Govan's infamous Wine Alley and our dear departed Paddy's Market. I enjoyed the cultural references - Tufty Club, anyone? The plot also touches on the Troubles in Northern Ireland via a trip to Belfast. My favourite character was Iris, who has bigger balls than all of the men put together. A real nostalgia trip but I refuse to call it historical crime fiction because that makes me feel ancient! I would like to read the series from the beginning.

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Bobby March Will Live Forever (2020) By Alan Parks Canongate, 320 pages. ★★★★ Have you read all of Louise Penny’s Armand Gamache novels? Looking for something grittier until she writes another? Scottish author Alan Parks might be your cuppa. His is a hardboiled take on crime that’s more Raymond Chandler than Penny–especially if your Glasgow patter is up to snuff. In many ways, Parks’ detective, Harry McCoy, is the anti-Gamache. He has a drinking problem, is morose, has shady friends, acts on impulse rather than reason, is rough-tongued, and hasn’t had a girlfriend since Angela moved out two years ago. Like Gamache, though, he cares little about self-aggrandizement, remains incorruptible amidst cops on the take, and must wend his way around politicians who care more about appearances than truth. Bobby March Will Live Forever is the third installment of Parks’ Harry McCoy novels. It wouldn’t hurt to start with book one, though you can jump right into this one if you’d rather. It is set in 1973 (with flashes back to 1969-70), a time in which Glasgow is awash in drugs, casual violence, hippies, and hippie poseurs. If you’ve been to Glasgow in the past 30 years, you won’t recognize McCoy’s city: slums, dangerous alleyways, shebeens (unlicensed bars), hookers, and men with faces ruined by knife-wielders sending a message from crime bosses. That is, when they’re not corpses instead. If you think you’re having a tough few weeks, try Harry’s on for size. Alice Kelly, a 13-year-old girl, has gone missing. It’s the sort of thing Harry normally investigates but a rival, Bernie Raeburn, has been promoted and takes charge. Raeburn got his advance by being, as they say in Scotland, an arse-licker, and a corrupt one at that. Raeburn’s loathing for Harry is made manifest by handing him low-level assignments. McCoy knows Raeburn is incompetent, but he holds his tongue lest he hand Raeburn an excuse to fire him. The city is in the midst of a heart wave, that leaves Glaswegians sweating and reeling and the press and politicians are screaming for the polis (police) to find Alice. Alas, Harry has lesser fish to fry. He finds rock musician Bobby March dead with a syringe in his arm– a seemingly routine death for a once-promising guitarist whose fame bus left without him –and Harry is supposed to find a missing bag that Bobby’s father would like to have returned. He’s also given robbery files to investigate, which is not his métier and, as if he didn’t have enough to do, his former boss Hector Murray, asks him to look for his 15-year-old niece Laura. It’s off the record, as her father is the Deputy Head of the Glasgow Council and has parliamentary ambitions. Harry is a good detective because he has tons of underworld contacts, not the least of which is Stevie Cooper, a boyhood friend from the same downscale neighborhood. Stevie can now afford the trappings of bourgeois life –courtesy of drug dealing– but he keeps a full stable of thugs close at hand, including one who doubles as his gardener! Stevie owes Harry a few favors, as Harry helped him kick heroin. McCoy, with some help from younger colleague Douglas Watson (“Wattie’), must somehow make sense of all the madness going on around them. Before the dust settles, McCoy has brushes with a Bobby March fanboy, Angela, dope dealers, Wattie’s pushy girlfriend/reporter, a photographer who wants to document Glaswegian poverty, the “Troubles” in Northern Ireland, the unwashed and the unhinged, and Raeburn. McCoy will also get the shite kicked out of him a few times. Alan Parks’ style has been described as “tartan noir,” a descriptor that’s both catchy and appropriate. Bobby March Will Live Forever is gritty, violent, and morally ambiguous. It may be too much so for those with mild dispositions, and it will certainly be so for those who like Agatha Christie-like resolutions where everything is tied with a neat bow at the end. Harry McCoy novels are more in the mold of deciding which battles you can win and which ones you probably can’t. Verisimilitude or surrender to nihilism? You decide. Rob Weir Wiktionary has a useful list of Scottish phrases and slang:

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This is the third book to feature Detective Harry McCoy. Having read the previous two – Bloody January and February’s Son – my expectations were high. Set in a very gritty Glasgow, it is a complicated and fast moving tale of seemingly unrelated cases – a series of armed robberies, a missing child and the drug overdose death of Bobby March, a waning rock star. McCoy is excluded from the missing child investigation, an act of spite by his temporary boss who carries a grudge, is allocated the drugs overdose and has the robberies foisted on him by his usual partner, who has been seconded to the missing child case. Sounds complicated? It is, especially when McCoy is also asked to find the teenage niece of his actual boss, as a favour to be kept under wraps. The first part of the book is unexciting, as McCoy wanders the city, seemingly aimlessly, catching up with characters who were introduced in the previous books, dealing with side issues and also slowly garnering information. Most of these strands eventually mesh as he pieces together the nearly impenetrable plot. At this stage, I felt that some of the ‘asides’ could well have been abandoned and the relevant portions more fleshed out, particularly where characters from the previous books were concerned. When quite a while and quite a few books have flowed through the reader’s mind between visits from McCoy, it’s a little difficult to remember just who everyone is. Its a good yarn, written very much in a weird combination of tartan noir and an Agatha Christie-like scattering of clues throughout, but not enough for the reader to make any informed guesses. The final twist comes out of nowhere, neatly handed to McCoy by another character, but nevertheless very entertainingly written. I was left a little disappointed as there is no neat ending and there are quite a few loose ends left waving in the breeze. Read it, enjoy it and suspend belief for a few hours. I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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I know we’re only at book #3 but this series has quickly become a favourite. The time period, the setting, the characters…..all these elements add so much colour, atmosphere & personality to each instalment. Mix this distinctive vibe with compelling drama & you have a series that stands out in a crowded genre. It kicks off with a prologue that is the stuff of parents’ nightmares. Eleven year old Alice Kelly has disappeared without a trace. It seems like every cop in Glasgow is on the case…except Harry. He had a run-in years ago with the man who is temping as his boss & apparently he has a long memory. While colleague Wattie runs down clues, Harry is assigned a hopeless robbery case that is going cold. Then he takes a call from a local hotel & finds Bobby March. Contrary to the title, there’s zero chance of Bobby becoming immortal. At least not in the physical sense. What Harry finds instead is a sad cliché……an almost-was/has-been rock star in a cheap hotel room with a needle in his arm. Back in the day, Bobby came so close but eventually he was just another one hit wonder. In alternate chapters we go back & follow the arc of his career, from his first high to his last. In the present, his demise looks pretty straightforward but don’t worry. As usual, Harry has a buffet of problems. His boss may become a permanent fixture, the search for Alice has gone horribly sideways, his old boss needs a favour & old pal Cooper needs a babysitter. He’s like one of those circus performers who is in perpetual motion to keep their spinning plates in the air. The result is an entertaining & gripping read. The author’s style & story telling skills have been incredibly self assured from book #1 & that continues here. Characters appear on the page fully formed and come out swinging. At the centre of it all is Harry, a likeable & sympathetic guy who’s like a cross between Rebus & Bosch. But make no mistake…he is his own man. He may look the other way from time to time but his loyalty to Cooper is a testament to the personal tenets that drive his decisions. The pacing is bang on & for the first time in a while, I found myself happily immersed in a good story. The only thing missing is a soundtrack. The classic bands & songs mentioned in Bobby’s chapters had me head bobbing along to old favourites (yes, I am that old 🤨 ) By the time it’s all over, most of the threads are tied up & poor Harry has a few more scars to add to his collection. I just wanted to drag him off to a quiet pub somewhere & buy him a pint. Maybe 2. Here’s hoping he gets a nap in before “The April Dead” arrives.

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