Alan Parks continues his dark, tartan noir series only weeks after the end of his debut Bloody January. That book, set in a grimy Glasgow in 1973, introduced detective Harry McCoy, a man with a dark and traumatic past, trying to do the right thing while managing his personal demons.
Harry McCoy is back on the job after the injuries sustained at the end of Bloody January. Before long he is on another big case – investigating the gruesome murder of a Celtic football star who also happened to be dating the daughter of a local crimelord. At the same time he is asked to sign-off on a suicide, a job which points him to a senior police officer who was one of the people who abused him as a child. It is not long before he is dangerously having to juggle his professional and personal lives.
Parks is determined to make his noir as dark as possible. There is plenty of violence and mayhem, gang warfare and police brutality. And in case that was not enough, some fairly exploitative interludes from the point of view of the killer. While there are a couple of small twists, there is not much mystery here, the killer is identified early on, making this fairly pure procedural – can the police catch up with him before he kills again? And it is no surprise for readers of this genre when McCoy himself comes into the killer’s crosshairs.
February’s Son is an atmospheric, historical crime fiction which deals with some fairly confronting, and still very relevant issues. The procedural format coupled with McCoy’s institutional history of abuse allows this series to deal effectively with notions of trauma, justice and redemption. It will be interesting to see where Parks takes this story next – definitely a series to watch.