May God Forgive
June 10, 2022

Book Review

May God Forgive

reviewed by Eric Ellis

In May God Forgive, the fifth installment featuring Alan Parks’ police investigator Harry McCoy, McCoy is tasked with assisting in the investigation of an arson-murder case based over a few days in 1974 Glasgow.

Three late-aged teenagers have been arrested for setting a hairdressing salon on fire that ended in the deaths of five people, including three children. Glasgow as a city is on edge as a violent mob wants blood from the boys regardless of the reason why the salon was burned.

While the three are being transported, the prisoner transport vehicle is rammed and the three boys skirted away by unknown assailants. At first it is thought a loved one of the boys arranged the assault to rescue the boys, but when one turns up dead and with signs of horrific torture and a note he’s just the first, McCoy’s boss pushes hard for the locating of the other two boys regardless of the heinous nature of their crime.

McCoy, distracted by his own personal issues and his increasing heath issues brought on by years of neglect and bad habits, soon immerses himself deeply into the investigation and is further hampered by other deaths in Glasgow that may or may not be related to the arson killings.

Like Ian Rankin and his character John Rebus, Parks also ages Harry McCoy in ways that do not allow him to remain static and with an air of invincibility. McCoy drinks too much, smokes too much, eats all the wrong food and as the novel progresses, is further haunted by his past and the reminders of his past, which allows the reader to build a humane kinship with McCoy.

In bringing back supporting characters from previous McCoy novels and progressively revealing new information about these characters allows May God Forgive to avoid feeling stale or read like a churned out by rote novel.

McCoy’s counterparts, including his partner Wattie as a newborn father, and the extremely violent Stevie Cooper, add more layers to the story and keep things moving right along. Because I don’t reveal plot spoilers in fiction reviews, all I will suggest is, to this reader, the ending was not anticipated and was welcomed because in serial novels, avoiding repetition and predictability ensures the crafting of quality stories and character growth.

Fans of Parks’ Harry McCoy will not be disappointed. May God Forgive is another high quality, gritty novel based in the 1970s and with a story readers should enjoy. The novel is filled with plenty of villains where if one didn’t commit one particular crime, he or she most likely committed some other crime.

May God Forgive was provided by Netgalley for the promise of a fair review.

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