Alan Parks – Bobby March Will Live Forever

alan parks bobby march will live forever
Alan Parks – Bobby March Will Live Forever

A heat wave is rolling over Glasgow in July 1973 and just so is the drug business booming. One of the victims is Bobby March, the city’s greatest rock star, found dead in a hotel. Yet, this goes more or less unnoticed since the town is holding its breath with looking for young Alice Kelly who has disappeared into thin air. Her parents are neither rich nor famous, no ransom has been demanded, so everybody fears she might have been killed by some random perpetrator. With his boss Murray away and Raeburn in charge, life at Glasgow police becomes unbearable for Detective Harry McCoy who is ordered to the most loathing jobs. With the heat not going to cool down, the atmosphere is getting more and more tense and it is just a question of time until the necessary explosion comes.

The third instalment of Alan Parks’s series set in the 1970s Glasgow is by far the best. In the first, “Bloody January”, we get an idea of the city slowly declining, in “February’s son”, we learn about the underworld and their connection with McCoy. Now, the focus is set on the police who have the hardest job imaginable to do. Apart from the very personal aspects in this novel, again Alan Parks managed to create a brilliant atmosphere which gives you a feeling of the city and the constraints the inhabitants have to live in.

The plot combines several lines all equally thrilling and suspenseful. Apart from the kidnapping story – which will have much wider repercussions than apparent at the beginning – and McCoy’s personal war with Raeburn, there is also the ominous death of rock star Bobby March which gets unexpectedly personal for McCoy, too (and serves to continue the witty naming of the series). Added to this, Harry is asked by his boss to secretly look for his niece, 15-year-old Laura has been in trouble for quite some time, but now her disappearance seems to be more serious. All this is poured over McCoy and leads to a fast-paced story which you have to follow carefully in order not to get lost. Yet, the skilful and clever detective can connect the dots and bring all cases to an end.

The character of Harry McCoy is a fantastic protagonist. On the one hand, he is totally down to earth and knows how to talk to people no matter their background. He is an excellent policeman yet blends in easily with the underworld and its shady figures. On the other hand, he is totally loyal to his colleagues and has very high standards when it comes to police work and law and order. He knows where not to look too closely, but he is also determined when it comes to crossing a red line. Thus, his pragmatic but straightforward approach to his work makes him a sympathetic and authentic character.

A superb read which combines a great protagonist with a complex plot and lives from the stunning atmosphere the author creates.

Anstey Harris – The Truths and Triumphs of Grace Atherton

anstey-harros-thetruths-and-triumphs-of-grace-atherton
Anstey Harris – The Truths and Triumphs of Grace Atherton

Grace Atherton’s life is in full tune: in London, she is running a violin shop and in Paris she meets her partner David. She had wanted to become a professional musician but due to lack of talent, she had to leave college and has to be content now with making the string instruments and playing them without any audience. When David rescues a young woman in the Paris metro, their whole life is turned upside down. Even though David’s wife knows about their affair, it has always been a delicate topic with their kids and David’s profession also requires discretion, but now the whole of France is searching for the hero of the underground and his obvious company. Yet, this is only the start of a series of events that will shake Grace’s life deeply.

“The Truths and Triumphs of Grace Atherton” is a novel hard to describe in only a couple of words. It’s a love story, a story of a break-up, about the love of music and about family and especially parents’ role in the life of their children, it’s about friendship and quarrels and first and foremost about forgiving and going on in life. What I really adored is how the author manages to convey the love of music into words, the compassion for the elegant and fragile instruments can be felt throughout the novel.

All characters in the book are very well thought out, they have strengths and weaknesses which make them authentic and lovable, but most of all they are compassionate and kind-hearted and have their hearts in the right place. Even though not all that happens gives them (or you as a reader) pleasure, I’d call it a feel-good novel nevertheless and perfect for those autumns days where you long for something cosy and comfy.