Before I share my review here’s what the official blurb says:
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 introduces a dark and electrifying new voice in Scottish noir.
Brutal, dark and not without the infamous Glasgow Black Humour, Bloody January has been on my TBR for almost a year now after buying it at Aye Write last year.
Set in Glasgow in the 1970s it’s sense of time and place is completely authentic. Those who shudder at anything non PC may have a bit of a turn reading this as the language is most definitely set in the 70s and for me this is exactly why the book works and works so damn well. There is a brutal sense of honesty about it. Being a child of the 70s I could remember this Glasgow and the colourful language. I felt as though I had stepped back in time reading it. Bloody January is brutally violent and dark at times throughout. Sadly this is a true representation of our city in that era. An era where it most definitely earned its reputation as one of the most violent cities in the UK. Despite the violence it is not added in a gratuitous manner, it only adds to the authenticity of the reading experience.
Detective Harry McCoy has been tasked with solving the brutal murder of a young girl shot dead in Glasgow, they know the who but have no idea of the why. Throughout the storyline we get to find out a lot more about McCoy and he is a man with a past and indeed a man who is currently dipping his sticky fingers into a number of areas and situations that would be questionable for a police officer nowadays but remember we are set in a time where many blind eyes were turned to what was going on.
The plot is intriguing and covers prostitution, homelessness, drug abuse and mental health and explores the deep rooted poverty that turned so many to dangerous routes in their lives. There is one part in the novel where McCoy is taken to an area where even the police and Salvation Army refused to go, the end of the road for anyone who was homeless. This was written so vividly it was impossible not to see, hear and smell the sights coming from the pages.
McCoy is not afraid of the lives of those he seeks to arrest. He is more at home on the streets than he is in the station. There is a story to McCoy and some of it is told but leaving enough for the reader to want more, which is just as well as there is a new book out very soon. I loved his character, totally relatable and engaging I am eager to read more!
He is paired up with Wattie, a wet behind the ears recruit from Greenock who has been seconded to work with him for the next six months. McCoy is not best pleased being paired with someone who is his polar opposite but yet a friendship and understanding develops between the two men.
His boss Murray seems to have it in for McCoy but there was also a real sense of some level of mutual respect and understanding going on.
Cleverly written the author it provides a bleak but realistic social commentary of the era sucking you in. It’s dark, it’s violent and it’s hard hitting in every way. It is most definitely unmissable!
Bloody January is available to purchase from: