Harry McCoy hasn’t really recovered after his latest case but is back to work as the whole city is mourning the loss of five women and children who were killed after somebody set fire to a hairdresser’s. The atmosphere in the city is hot when the three young men are arrested for the crime, but just outside the courthouse, the police van is attacked and the three of them are kidnapped. It does not take too long until the first shows up again: severely mutilated and killed. Police need to find the hiding place before the other two are massacred, too. Yet, this is not the only case Harry has to work on, a young unknown girl has been strangled and dumped on a cemetery. The police detective does not have the least idea where this case will lead and what it will demand of him.
The fifth instalment of Alan Parks’ series cantered around the Glasgow detective Harry McCoy again combines brilliantly the mood of the 1974 Scottish city with McCoy’s personal life. “May God Forgive” repeatedly challenges morals and ethics and raises the question if something as a fair trial and sentence can exist.
I have been a huge fan of the series from the start and I still have the impression that it is getting better with each new novel. This time, it is several cases that drive the plot. First of all, the case of the burnt down hairdresser’s which seems to be connected to the city’s gang rivalries. McCoy wanders between the world of law and order and the illegal underworld thus getting closer to what has happened. He ignores his health which would much rather confine him to his home, but what should he do there?
His private life is also addressed in several ways thus granting more and more insight in the complex relationship he has with his father and his upbringing. Loyalties going far back in to his childhood now force him to question his very own place as a representative of the system, much more than it did before even though his friendship with Stevie Cooper put him in tricky situations before. Can you ever really overcome where you come from? Obviously not, but on the other hand: aren’t the institutions responsible for law and order sometimes as corrupt as the underworld?
A lot of suspense and food for thought as you as a reader quite naturally also ponder about the question how you would have reacted in McCoy’s place. Another great read of one of the best contemporary crime series.