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Harry McCoy #4

The April Dead

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When an American sailor from the Holy Loch Base goes missing, Harry McCoy is determined to find him. But as he investigates, a wave of bombings hits Glasgow – with the threat of more to come. Soon McCoy realises that the sailor may be part of a shadowy organisation committed to a very different kind of Scotland. One they are prepared to kill for.

Meanwhile Cooper, McCoy’s long-time criminal friend, is released from jail and convinced he has a traitor in his midst. As allies become enemies, Cooper has to fight for his position and his life. He needs McCoy to do something for him. Something illegal.

McCoy is running out of time to stop another bomb, save himself from the corrupt forces who want to see him fail and save the sailor from certain death. But McCoy discovers a deeper, darker secret – the sailor is not the first young man to go missing in April.

393 pages, Paperback

First published March 25, 2021

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About the author

Alan Parks

5 books179 followers
Alan Parks has worked in the music industry for over twenty years. His debut novel Bloody January was one of the top crime debuts of 2018 and was shortlisted for the prestigious international crime prize the Grand Prix de Littérature Policière. He lives and works in Glasgow.

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5 stars
339 (49%)
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285 (41%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 127 reviews
Profile Image for Maureen .
1,296 reviews7,113 followers
March 4, 2021
*4.5 stars *

4th in the Detective Harry McCoy series, and ‘The April Dead’ is another sure fire winner for author Alan Parks.

It’s 1974, and Glasgow has an ongoing reputation for violence, with opposing gangs using extreme methods in order to be top dog. The local polis aren’t beyond reproach either, with their own form of violence - heavy handed certainly, truncheons, boots and fists always at the ready.

It’s against this backdrop that an American sailor goes awol from the Holy Loch submarine base. McCoy is investigating an explosion at the time, when a piece of evidence found at the scene, suggests that the missing sailor might somehow have been involved.

With the threat of more bombs to come, McCoy follows a dizzying array of leads, whilst his continuing relationship with Glasgow thug and gangland boss Stevie Cooper, keeps the reader turning the pages with increasing speed.

Though there are some distressing scenes, it is, nevertheless, fast paced, dark, gritty and gripping, and let’s be honest, Parks sure can write. McCoy is a pretty flawed character with current health issues, but here’s the thing, I found myself really worrying about his health! - yes I know he’s fictional, but such is Parks skill as a writer. Tartan Noir it most definitely is! Great stuff, great series.

* Thank you to Netgalley and Canongate for an ARC in exchange for an honest unbiased review *
Profile Image for Paromjit.
2,505 reviews24.5k followers
January 30, 2021
Once again Alan Parks knocks it out of the park in the 4th of his hard boiled historical Scottish Noir series set in the dark, dangerous, violent, sectarian, mean and gang ridden streets of 1970s Glasgow, featuring DI Harry McCoy. His friendship with volatile crime boss Stevie Cooper goes back to their childhood days where Stevie protected him, makes him few friends amongst fellow police officers, but that doesn't stop him picking him up at Peterhead prison in Aberdeen after Stevie's 6 month stint inside. Stevie is not the same man who went inside as he returns to his past home, a council estate flat, an unforgiving man who prizes loyalty above all else, including from McCoy, as he hunts for a traitor amidst his cohorts. Harry and Wattie find themselves at the scene of a bombing in the Woodlands, hardly the kind of prominent target that would interest the IRA, so what is going on?

It turns out the only casualty of the bombing is the bombmaker, a young lad making a 'co-op bomb' the ingredients of which can be found in any supermarket, and whose remains are splattered into smithereens in the flat. Expecting the investigation to be taken over by Special Branch, McCoy is surprised to hear they are not interested and it falls to Glasgow police to investigate. Harry's worries are borne out when a bombing at the cathedral causes considerable damage, with numerous injuries and death, he is certain more bombs and carnage will follow. Additionally, Harry has been persuaded to look for the missing AWOL son, Donny Stewart, of a wealthy ex-naval captain, the American Andrew Stewart, a distraught father who has flown over to find him. Donny is based at the US naval base at Holy Loch. Wattie, and his reporter partner, Mary, now have an infant son, leaving Wattie struggling with the lack of sleep, as he implores Harry to help him. Pressure is piling on Wattie from Chief Inspector Murray who thinks little of his abilities, who puts Wattie in charge of the inquiry into the murder of Jamsie Dixon, with Stevie the main suspect. Harry's life is made even more difficult when a friendly warning to Faulds results in a meeting with a bullying Special Branch officer accusing him of IRA connections.

In a dark, tense, action packed and thrilling narrative, Harry hunts for bombers targeting drinking establishments, and loyal to their murderous and insane army leader. A search of a country home finds shocking nightmarish evidence of unspeakable torture and killing, both from the past with the despicable, illegal, acts committed by the British military as the empire began to collapse, and in the present. Army boys have been going missing around the month of April for some years, preyed upon by those they trusted, only to end up as part of the 'April Dead'. This is a stellar series that will appeal to readers who love gritty Scottish Noir, the atmospheric 1970s Glasgow setting and the characterisations, particularly that of McCoy, are particular highlights. Many thanks to Canongate for an ARC.
Profile Image for Sandy.
873 reviews215 followers
August 1, 2021
So here's the plan:

1. Pick up this book.
2. Grab your reading kit (snacks, Slanket, headlamp, duct tape, etc.)
3. Head to the nearest underground bunker.
4. Secure the perimeter.
5. Begin.

Because once you start, you really don't want to be interrupted. And yes, I am stalling. The thing is I've run out of superlatives to describe how freakin' great this series is. Pretty sure I've used them all for the previous books so until I dig out my old thesaurus, bear with me.

It all kicks off when a bomb unexpectedly explodes in a shabby flat. Unfortunately, it appears to have also surprised the bomber. Detectives Harry McCoy & partner 'Wattie" are stumped....has the IRA come to Glasgow?

They don't have long to ponder. They need to figure out who's building bombs, an American businessman begs them to find his missing son & Harry suspects his old pal Cooper may have killed a guy.

From here on, several story lines take off & develop in ways that keep you fully immersed in the story. Once again the dialogue is sharp & each character has a distinct voice you can almost hear. The plot is layered & smart, guaranteed to hold your attention. Quieter, more reflective moments give the reader a chance to take a breather & are well balanced with tense, action scenes. This is one of the reasons the series stands out in such a crowded & popular genre. Yes, there is plenty of the requisite crime, grit & suspense. But it's not constant rapid-fire. In the spaces left between, you get to know & care for these characters which ensures you're well & truly hooked from the beginning.

Harry, Wattie, Cooper, Jumbo....all the regulars are back with some intriguing twists on their current situations. The character development continues & it's been interesting to watch the evolution of Wattie, in particular. Under Harry's tutelage, he's gone from wide-eyed recruit to (semi) street savvy copper. Not sure if his partner deserves thanks or blame. Although these books can be enjoyed as stand-alones, I'd recommend reading the series in order. Relationships shift over time & knowing the history makes for a richer reading experience.

It's another great story that keeps you glued to the pages but fair warning....one of the characters won't make it to the next book. This series is the real deal. If you're a fan of authors such as Rankin, McIlvanney, McKinty or Neville & haven't read any of these books, hang your head in shame. Then proceed to your nearest book shop. Don't make me come find you. I'll bring Jumbo 🤨
Profile Image for Susan - on semi hiatus.
410 reviews109 followers
May 8, 2021
Pieces of April.

Not the Three Dog Night Love song.

A bomb detonation in a Glasgow tenement has Detective Inspector Harry McCoy at the scene. He and his partner Wattie are tasked with assessing the damage and next steps taken by the department.

However, Harry is reluctant to go up the stars to the ruined flat and is putting forth possible excuses for someone, ANYONE else, to view the scene.

You see, our grumpy youngish inspector is a wee squeamish and the first responder description of the deceased’s condition has rattled his constitution. The body is NOT intact and Harry is bracing himself for the visual.

Set in 1974 Scotland, the author again remains true to the period with music (Do the Bump anyone?) policing, and scenery. The norm being working class street decor, smoking, and greasy bars sided with a ripe dose of Scottish vernacular. Fags, arses, bugger this, pity that, didnae do anything.

The April Dead is the fourth Harry McCoy book written but only my second read. My first (and third in the series), Bobby March Will Live Forever was outstanding and this is the continuation.

It can stand alone, but I would suggest reading in order if you’re interested in the series. Prior relationships developing over time add nuance and explanations are minimal later on.

I have the first two, Bloody January and February’s Son waiting in the wings and anticipate more greatness! I love these books and would recommend to readers liking police procedurals with some added flavor.

Recently published, I purchased a hardback copy from The Book Depository.
Profile Image for Marianne.
3,272 reviews117 followers
March 10, 2022
The April Dead is the fourth book in the Harry McCoy series by British author, Alan Parks. It’s mid-April 1974 and bombs are going off in Glasgow: the first looks like an inept bombmaker has met a nasty fate; the motive for the second, in the Cathedral, is more puzzling, but Special Branch rule out Irish paramilitary.

Harry’s not quite sure how he ends up agreeing to do a favour for a retired US Naval Captain but, in the process, Andrew Stewart makes the acquaintance of newly-released-from-prison gangland crime boss, Srevie Cooper, whose recent interest in boxing strikes a chord with the American.

Andrew Stewart describes his son, Donny, now AWOL from the US Naval Base near Dunoon, and the target of this concerned father’s search, as a timid young man, but McCoy soon learns that young Stewart might be getting his hands dirty with some local colour.

Over the nine days that follow, there is an attempted murder in a posh restaurant, a brutal bashing murder of a local crime figure, more bombs explode, the death toll rises, and two individuals lose limbs. It eventually becomes clear that a charismatic ex-Highlander Colonel with a private army working under a rather bizarre manifesto may be involved. Meanwhile, Stevie Cooper suspects his lieutenant may have ambitions beyond his station, something that cannot end well.

In the course of investigations, McCoy finds himself an unwilling spectator at a boxing match, mentoring Wattie in his first in-charge case, unwittingly delivering an IRA threat, catching up with show people sharing his youthful history, and checking out a hippy commune, all while plagued by a newly-diagnosed peptic ulcer, for which he tries (and fails) to curb his smoking and drinking. It’s quite apparent by now that McCoy may not be the straightest cop on the force, but he does have standards and his heart is in the right place.

As this series progresses, the background on the characters and their history. provided by earlier books make it more difficult for subsequent volumes to stand alone: readers new to the series may find this one confusing as there is virtually no recap. Again, the prolific use of expletives may offend some readers, but there’s a bit of black humour in the banter. Portraying Glasgow at its grittiest, this is excellent Scottish Noir.
Profile Image for Raven.
713 reviews199 followers
March 27, 2021
Having read the first three books in this series, Bloody January, February’s Son, and Bobby March Will Live Forever, with all three earning a well deserved place in my top 10s of the year, now the indomitable Harry McCoy returns in The April Dead.

There is always the danger when you keep reviewing an established series that you will run out of ways to get across how good the series is. Yep. Think I’m now rapidly approaching that point. But seriously, Parks once again immerses us completely in the environs of grim 1970s Glasgow with a bombing campaign beginning, perpetrated by a new and disciplined faction, McCoy being again tied up in the nefarious activities of his criminal pal, Stevie Cooper, whilst trying to apply himself to finding the bombers and embarking on a search for an AWOL American sailor, all of which culminates in a couple of truly nail biting cliff-hangers.


It’s all going on in this one.

One of the constants of this series is the way that Parks uses McCoy to criss-cross the lines between morality and immorality, not only in the cases he is tasked with, but also in his mercurial friendship with Cooper. I absolutely love the ups and downs of this relationship, and the way that McCoy grapples with the balance between being an upholder of the law, but also bending to Cooper’s manipulative will more often than not. As Cooper is trying to thwart a potential power grab by another Glasgow criminal face, McCoy is dragged reluctantly into the struggle, trying to cover his position as a police officer, but with this also deep seated, but vehemently denied at times, loyalty to his friend. There is a wee ratcheting up of the tension between them again in this one, which adds a real colourful edge to the book, by turns darkly funny but also puts McCoy on a sticky wicket throughout. Alongside this friendship there is the usual badinage between McCoy and his colleague Wattie, with Wattie experiencing a bit of a crisis as to how good a copper he actually is, suffering the stresses of recent fatherhood, and at one point modelling a rather disturbing pair of underpants (that’s intrigued you hasn’t it?) All this gives plenty of scope in the book for gentle ribbing, and some almost touching concern from McCoy to his protégé. It’s actually quite surprising how often McCoy shows a more sensitive side to his character in this one, particularly in his dealings with the father of the missing sailor, and perhaps the stalking shadow of his own mortality has something to do with it…

As always Glasgow looms large with Parks warts-and-all depiction of a city fuelled by the blackest humour, grinding poverty, and sectarianism, suffering the effects of a bombing campaign with a particularly malevolent mastermind behind it, and a case for McCoy that may have further repercussions down the line. As always Parks perfectly navigates the line between brutal truth and undeniable affection for Glasgow and its inhabitants, as the book travels its familiar course of wry observation that also reveals deeper social fissures in the city. It’s also a good device that by incorporating the American abroad with the Andy Stewart character (searching for his missing son) this gives the reader another perception of the city from an outsider looking in, and by the same token incorporating some interesting background on the American naval strand of the story. As usual the dialogue is as slick and polished as the plot, carrying us along on a wave of ribald humour and punchy coarseness that is sharp and fluid.

Having said before that I would totally and completely recommend this series on the strength of three books, I can only say now that I would totally and completely recommend this series with the fourth included. The April Dead is a cracking addition, leaving a couple of unanswered questions at its close that will guarantee this reader will be waiting for what may come, come what may. Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Lou (nonfiction fiend).
2,771 reviews1,625 followers
March 25, 2021
The April Dead is the fourth instalment in the Detective Inspector Harry McCoy Thriller series, set in Glasgow. It's April 1974 and when an American sailor from the Holy Loch Base goes missing, Harry McCoy is determined to find him. Having been approached by US Navy Captain Andrew Stewart, he had been roped into helping him find his son, Donny, who has been missing from the US Naval base for two days now. But as he investigates, a wave of bombings, not unlike the one's that we're part of an IRA bombing campaign targeting London, Manchester and Birmingham, hits Glasgow - the first in a small flat in an inconsequential part of the city had blown up and killed the seemingly inept bombmaker - with the threat of more to come. Soon McCoy realises that the sailor may be part of a shadowy organisation committed to a very different kind of Scotland.

One they are prepared to kill for. Meanwhile, Stevie Cooper, McCoy's longtime criminal friend, is released from jail and convinced he has a traitor in his midst. McCoy will need to keep him close if he has any chance of stemming the rising tide of crime, thuggery and gang violence throughout the city. As allies become enemies, Cooper has to fight for his position and his life. He needs McCoy to do something for him. Something illegal. McCoy is running out of time to stop another bomb, save himself from the corrupt forces who want to see him fail and save the sailor from certain death. But McCoy discovers a deeper, darker secret - the sailor is not the first young man to go missing in April.

This is another seriously cracking read with a blistering plot, scalpel-sharp writing and a rich, three-dimensional character in McCoy himself. Detectives often have gut feelings, but Harry McCoy’s guts are in turmoil. At the age of 32, drinking, smoking and bad food have given him a peptic ulcer. Bring out the boiled cod and Smash. He's given the facade of a tough, no-nonsense individual but peel away the layers and there's a heart of gold behind the sometimes macho attitude. The setting is a character in itself as it comes alive as you read revealing the murkiness of Glasgow's criminal underworld, gangland factions fighting for power and turf and the dingy, oppressive atmosphere that accompanies these activities. A compulsive, enthralling and richly atmospheric read and a series that shows no sign of flagging. Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Stephen.
1,667 reviews275 followers
February 17, 2021
thanks to netgalley and the publishers for a free copy in return for an open and honest review.

This is becoming a favourite series of mine based in 1970's Glasgow it is a dark and gritty crime thriller with main character Harry McCoy dealing with a spate of bombings and a missing American and his relationship with thug Stevie Cooper. Parks keeps you wanting more with a page turner with many twists and turns and learn more about the relationship between Cooper and McCoy .
Profile Image for Paula.
620 reviews123 followers
January 18, 2022
I can't praise this series enough.Absolutely brilliant.
Profile Image for Tiger.
317 reviews5 followers
November 21, 2021
4th book in this author's Harry McCoy series set in 1970's Glasgow and although I enjoyed it, it was clearly my least favorite of this series so far. A series of bombings and a missing American soldier form the backdrop of this story and McCoy and Wattie try to figure out the connection, all the while with McCoy's best friend, gangster Stevie Cooper lurking in the background with a possible traitor in his midst. 3.5 stars rounded up.
Profile Image for Sid Nuncius.
1,128 reviews88 followers
January 29, 2021
I have enjoyed this series and I think The April Dead is the best so far.

It is April 1974 and Harry McCoy is investigating some bombings in Glasgow which seem to be the work of an amateur. He is also approached by an American who is concerned about his son, based with the US Navy at Holy Loch, who has disappeared. A connection seems to appear and some very dark secrets begin to be revealed involving secret militias, rogue elements of the British Army in Northern Ireland and elsewhere and, of course, McCoy’s childhood friend and now leading crime boss, Stevie Cooper.

It’s all very well done. It is extremely disturbing in places, but helped by the fact that it is now April and isn’t cold, wet and dark all the time, so it’s not quite so unremittingly gloomy. I even laughed once at the dialogue. Alan Parks develops an excellent sense of time and place as always and the plot is very well paced so I was involved and carried along very nicely. The character development of McCoy, Cooper, Wattie and others is well done, too. There are some unlikely coincidences and other implausibilities, but they’re not too outrageous and it was easy to forgive them for the sake of the story. I was a little unhappy with the climax and the brief coda, both of which stretched credibility a bit too far for me and seemed to be setting things up for future books in a way that looks more like a sensational novel than any sort of period realism. I’ll definitely read the next one, though.

So, not quite a five-star read for me, but not far off it. Be aware that this is not for the faint of heart in places, but I can recommend it (and the earlier books) warmly.

(My thanks to Canongate for an ARC via NetGalley.)
Profile Image for Eric.
392 reviews30 followers
April 19, 2021

The April Dead by Alan Parks is the fourth installment of the police detective Harry McCoy series based in 1970s Glasgow, Scotland.

The novel opens with the blood squeamish Harry McCoy, and his boyish partner Wattie, investigating a torn apart corpse found in an apartment after being blown up by a bomb. Information developed soon reveals even larger and deadlier bombs may be following.

McCoy, with other things on his mind, such as the imminent release of his childhood-gangster friend Stevie Cooper from jail, hopes the secretive Special Branch organization will take over the suspected terrorism-related bomb blast, but soon finds out, doing so is the last thing the group decides to do, forcing McCoy and his fellow investigators to stop more bloodshed.

At the same time, adding to Harry’s already full plate, Adam Stewart, a retired American sailor, has approached Harry and through endless pestering, is able to persuade Harry into looking into his missing and presumed AWOL son from a nearby American Naval base.

Soon, Harry finds himself being pulled in different directions at once while also learning his own physical health is rebelling due to years of his own neglect and abuse.

Parks also continues to explore the symbiotic relationship between McCoy and the explosive Cooper, which is almost like a violent version of a coin with two sides, both different, but both instrumental for the existence of the whole. Parks continues to develop the dangerous Cooper with more depth and in such a way he avoids turning him into a cliched run-of-the-mill thug.

The April Dead is a sprawling police procedural where previously introduced characters reappear alongside the introduction of new characters, one of them being a villain so vile, showing sometimes mere human mortals can be more dangerous and despicable than any supernatural creation.

Characters created by Parks evolve and develop in believable ways and from time to time continue to surprise the reader when exhibiting new characteristics, especially that of Cooper and Wattie.

Parks is also one of those writers consistently able to produce quality, urban crime novels with grit and few missteps without becoming stale or repetitive. Readers who enjoy the Aidan Waits novels by Joseph Knox, the Sean Duffy novels by Adrian McKinty, and John Rebus novels by Ian Rankin are encouraged to add the Harry McCoy novels to their reading pile.

This review was originally published at MysteryandSuspense.com.
Profile Image for Jason Allison.
Author 3 books16 followers
August 11, 2021
I’ve been a fan of Parks’s since his debut, and April is his best McCoy yet. As ever, the prose is lean, the story chugs, and the ending points to a new direction in the next novel.

Cool, muscular noir. And a bit of Abba.
1,215 reviews13 followers
May 11, 2021
Harry McCoy's life has suddenly get very complicated. His day job has him searching for a bomber in Glasgow as well as a missing US seaman from the Holy Loch base, his childhood friend (and local gangster) is out of jail and seemingly looking for revenge, his protoge has a new baby and now the Special Branch think he is an IRA agent - suddenly his ulcer is the least of his concerns.
The McCoy series goes from strength to strength with this latest episode. It feels so authentic with the setting in 1970s Glasgow and McCoy being the sort of unreconstructed, hard-living cop so familiar from original books and tv. Here the complex plots have lots of political driving - the conflict in Northern Ireland, torture by British soldiers, anti-Gypsy racism etc - yet nothing is done to death, it is just part of the excellent story.
Profile Image for Alan Taylor.
212 reviews7 followers
March 28, 2021
I never do this!
“For a bit of excellent Tartan Noir”, said my Glaswegian pal, “try Alan Parks starting with Bloody January.” So, Paul’s recommendations being highly valued, I started with BLOODY JANUARY. A couple of weeks later, I had read all four of Park’s Harry McCoy novels back-to-back.

Just released, THE APRIL DEAD. April 1974. Bombs are going off in Glasgow but, despite the city sharing some of Northern Ireland’s sectarianism, this doesn’t feel like the IRA to Harry McCoy. Meanwhile, Harry is approached by the father of a US sailor who has gone missing from a nearby American naval base.

All four novels are well plotted mystery-thrillers, Alan Parks clearly knowing how to construct a story. But it is the characters and the setting, the atmosphere that sets these books apart. Parks’s Glasgow is a dark, bleak place populated by drug dealers, prostitutes, criminal gangs, the homeless, good and bad polis, police in the Glasgow vernacular. It feels authentic, as much a character in the stories as Raymond Chandler’s Los Angeles or Lawrence Block’s New York.

McCoy is not a dirty cop, or polis, but he is conflicted. He has a strong sense of morality, knows what is right and wrong, but the dividing line doesn’t always tally with where others, particularly other polis, would consider it to be. He has allies in his boss, Murray and his new partner, Wattie, but continually tests their support. He has a complicated relationship with Stevie Cooper, to whom he has a strong loyalty due to their shared past when Cooper protected the young McCoy, often suffering in his stead. But McCoy is not blind to Cooper’s sociopathic nature. In Cooper, we see echoes of Hawk in Robert B. Parker’s Spenser novels or Mouse in Walter Mosley’s Easy Rawlins stories. Cooper is no sidekick, no gangster with a heart of gold. He is a genuinely dangerous man, one whom McCoy reluctantly allows to run, feeling perhaps that Cooper is a better alternative to his criminal rivals, but knowing that there will be a reckoning and that he will someday have to take Cooper down. The reader, and Harry McCoy, suspect that this may prove impossible.

This is simply one of the best continuing series out there at present and can stand with the best of any era. Think Raymond Chandler, Ross MacDonald, William McIllvaney, Ian Rankin. Yes, all the standard elements are there and, in lesser hands, the books could be clichéd but they transcend the genre. Violently. Viscerally.

The only real problem is that, now that I have caught up, it’s going to be a long wait for the next in the series. I can’t wait for May, whenever that might be…

My full review http://marcianosmissingmillions.blogs...
2,798 reviews49 followers
March 4, 2021
I would like to thank Netgalley and Cannongate Books for an advance copy of The April Dead, the fourth novel to feature DI Harry McCoy, set in Glasgow in 1974.

A homemade bomb goes off in a flat in Glasgow and nobody can understand why. In the meantime McCoy is approached by an American asking for help in finding his son, a sailor who has apparently gone AWOL. Then a gangland figured is murdered and McCoy’s friend Stevie Cooper comes under suspicion. When McCoy links the missing sailor, Donny Stewart, to the bomb site and a the shadowy group involved and realises there is a pending gang war he starts to feel the pressure.

I thoroughly enjoyed The April Dead which is a complicated read with several strands and much to digest. I found it compulsive reading, perhaps because it’s set in my old hometown and brought back so many memories- I’ve even drunk in some of the pubs mentioned, not all, obviously, as McCoy does a lot of drinking, mostly in insalubrious locations, but mostly because it is such an engrossing tale.

The novel is told entirely from McCoy’s point of view so the reader can get up close and personal with both his thinking and mentality. In the 70s policing was more lax in terms of rules and regulations, but even so McCoy pushes the boundaries. He shapes the story to fit his own moral code, which often deviates from the letter of the law, and yet he is an honest policeman. He helps his criminal friend, Stevie, but only as far as he deems acceptable. It’s all very grey and, at times, ambiguous but there is never any doubt about which side he is on.

The novel is broad in scope, taking on, not just various different plot lines, but wider themes as well, like The Troubles and cults among others. Things that were topical at the time and really took me back. Much of it is hinted at early on and is easy to interpret, but the novel goes further than I would have guessed and some revelations really took me by surprise.

As I said the plot is engrossing with its well researched sense of the era and it’s compulsive plot. The reveals come at a steady rate, the twists come as a surprise and the tension ramps up as the scale of what they are dealing with becomes apparent.

The April Dead is a good read that I have no hesitation in recommending.
Profile Image for Yvonne.
1,337 reviews93 followers
March 20, 2021
What a fabulously gritty crime thriller book The April Dead is. I haven't read the first two books in the series but I did read the third and loved it.

Set in 1974 Glasgow, the author transports the reader back to a time where not all police are on the right side of the law. Some are corrupt and some walk a very fine line. One fine line walker is Harry McCoy, he isn't exactly a dirty copper taking backhanders, but he does stray into grey areas.

A missing American man and bombs exploding is just the tip of the iceberg for McCoy. His colleague Wattie is trying to juggle fatherhood and the pressure of leading a case. While McCoy doesn't exactly have the time to help out Wattie, he does manage to pep-talk him.

The author really does keep the reader in the era of the story, with mentions of music and also the fact that smoking is done in every and all buildings. Add to this the murky underworld and a new threat with the bombs, McCoy really does have his work cut out.

This story is one that has a really dark side to it. Historic crimes and atrocities are explained with enough detail to make your skin crawl. I do think the author got the balance right with his descriptions and explanations.

This is a tough gritty inner-city crime thriller read, it dips its toes into gangland and touches on the historic. One for readers who like their crime to be more thriller than mystery, although the mysteries of the subplots are eventually solved. Another brilliant read and it confirms that this is an author who I will definitely be reading in the future. I would definitely recommend this one.
Profile Image for Justin Sarginson.
878 reviews11 followers
January 31, 2021
Another instalment of this period Scottish detective and it remains as entertaining and authentic as ever. This time the plot is slightly more expansive and the pace quicker, but the same grit, dirt and rawness of Glasgow in the 1970s remain and I for one are very happy for that.
The era and the terrain is as detailed and real as ever and the strong characters fade in and out with the same sense of vivaciousness and vividness. Visceral, dirty and as entertaining as ever. Here's to more and more of this, as the possibilities are endless with this author's skill and dexterity.
Profile Image for Paul.
703 reviews61 followers
April 20, 2021
Alan Parks latest Harry McCoy crime thriller has arrived, and the good news is, it is another absolute blinder. The April Dead picks up in 1974 and Glasgow’s reputation for being a dangerously violent city is splashed across the pages of every tabloid newsletter. The last thing the authorities need is the threat of bombs being added into the mix. Harry and Wattie are tasked with discovering the truth behinds the bombings. Are the sectarian troubles of Ireland finding their way to Scotland’s shores, or is there something else afoot? Meanwhile, Harry has to also deal with a missing person and the continued rise of Steve Cooper.

The constant pressure of police work is beginning to take a physical toll on Harry. The vast number of cigarettes and copious amounts of alcohol probably don’t help either. Probably not the best coping mechanism I’d imagine. It’s true that Harry remains as tenacious as ever but there are signs he is starting to unravel. Chasing down villains consumes Harry, and without that, he doesn’t know who he is. I think there may even be a part of him that doesn’t want to know. I like these little introspective moments where we get to see exactly what going on in Harry’s head. It really humanises him and adds genuine depth to the character. It’s one of the reasons I know I’m going to read every novel featuring this detective as long as Alan Parks continues to write them*.

I’m really enjoying the continued evolution of his character. Harry’s best friend/raising star of the criminal underworld is the perfect counterpoint to our protagonist. Copper exhibits a ruthless cunning paired with barely contained sociopathic tendencies. His attitude towards any potential competition is to deal with them in a brutally efficient manner. Cooper is always up to some scheme or another and Harry often finds himself having to deal with the fallout. Once again it makes me wonder just how long Harry is going to put up with Cooper’s actions. The direction each of the men are going in suggests that the boyhood friends are going to end up having to face off against one another eventually. The irony is that, outside of police work, Cooper is about the only constant in Harry’s life. You can tell Stevie Cooper is a great character because whenever he doesn’t appear in a scene you want to know what he is up to.

The April Dead feels like the darkest Harry McCoy novel to date. The subject matter starts simply enough but gets grimmer and grimmer as the narrative unfolds. It makes for a suitably tense read. Harry finds himself in a race against time and the final chapters are particularly nerve-wracking. We are also starting to see evidence of a larger story beginning to take shape. There are enough loose ends to ensure events in this novel are going to be referenced again in the future.

From my perspective, I think we’ve reached the point where Harry deserves to make the leap from page to screen. Gritty police drama set in bustling nineteen seventies Glasgow. Booze, drugs, violence and a lead character who is a bit of a mess–what’s not to love? It would make for perfect television; I’d certainly watch it. The only question I need answering – who would play Harry? Time to get my thinking cap on.

I came to these novels a bit late. I only read book three, Bobby March Will Live Forever, last month. In one respect that’s great news. I’ve only had to wait a few weeks to get my hands on the latest instalment. Now I’m going to have to wait an undetermined length of time until book five arrives. I’m not sure I can cope! Especially after that ending.

Kudos to Alan Parks for his work with this series. He continues to do a great job of bringing the darker side of Glasgow to life. It’s no secret that I’m a fan of these novels and I’m pleased to see them go from strength to strength. Each new Harry McCoy novel has successfully expanded on its predecessor. The cast of recurring characters grow and flesh out Harry’s world and the plots are never anything less than riveting.

*Based on the titles so far, I figure we have at least another eight books to go. I am totally ok with that.
Profile Image for John Watts.
108 reviews
August 8, 2022
Well, having promised myself I wouldn't be reading any more Harry McCoy books here I am reviewing The April Dead. Having just read 'The Dark Remains' co-authored by Mr McIllvaney and that nice Mr Rankin, I can own up to having had a surfeit of dark moments from Glasgow. Alan Parks's book stands up well against the effort from his two compatriots but it is unrelenting grim with a cast of characters who you wouldn't welcome as neighbours!
I suspect that this paints a pretty realistic picture of Clydeside in 1974 with the police and the criminal fraternity involved in murky areas of random violence set against a back-drop of deprivation, drink and family discord.
Not one for the faint-hearted...
Profile Image for Alison Cairns.
685 reviews5 followers
March 29, 2021
Another great story about life in the 70s Glasgow police force. The mean streets are still mean. While on a night out in Greenock celebrating Wattie's baby son, McCoy meets American Andy Stewart, over looking for his son, Donny, who has disappeared from his US naval ship in the Holy Loch. McCoy agrees to help look for Donny, and the next thing Andy is accompanying him on a journey to Peterhead Prison to pick up Stevie Cooper on his release. The American and the Glasgow hard man form an unlikely friendship. McCoy walks on the edge as usual with his friendship with Stevie conflicting with his duty as a Police Officer. As usual, stories become linked, lines are blurred and you're never quite sure how it will all work out - especially when you add in bombs and a secret army of young cadets. An explosive addition to Alan Parks' series. #netgalley #theaprildead
Profile Image for Mysticpt.
269 reviews7 followers
June 10, 2021
I wish I could say I enjoyed this one more, last year's book was very good. However I am growing very very tired of the Stevie Cooper character, please, please give him a rest, it is getting old. Also didn't care too much for the bombing storyline it was pretty boring and it didn't seem like there was too much detective work, just a lot of coincidences to wrap it up. Hopefully next year's book is better
Profile Image for Sandra.
148 reviews7 followers
December 8, 2021
Ecco l’ho finito. E pensare che ero così restia a leggere gennaio, nonostante il libro più volte mi fosse apparso nelle mie ricerche. Ricerche di nuovi autori, nuovi amori, intendo.
La quarta indagine di McCoy è molto cupa, dalla malavita di Glasgow l’epicentro si sposta nel mondo militare o paramilitare, un mondo di violenza, torture, e ancora violenza e ancora torture, bombe che scoppiano per errore e bombe che scoppiano nel luogo designato. E i due protagonisti (si, per me Cooper è il coprotagonista) sono, se possibile, un po’ più cinici e disillusi, hanno altri torti da vendicare e altri incubi con cui convivere. Questa volta il finale è semi aperto, qualcuno tornerà a maggio. Ed io lo aspetto.
151 reviews1 follower
May 29, 2021
I loved this - have have not discovered these until now?! I am now going to have to read the first three. It helps thatI recognise the setting very well, having grown up just outside of Glasgow. By the time I was regular visitor it was the early 80s rather than the 70s setting of these novels, but I can recognise the hard side of Glasgow well. Glasgow finally has a match for Rebus!
Profile Image for Sarah Smith.
Author 1 book13 followers
May 30, 2021
Brilliant. Only a year to wait till the next one!
241 reviews2 followers
May 3, 2021
4th book in the Harry McCoy series. Set in Glasgow in 1974 Harry sets out to investigate the disappearance of an American sailor from the Holy Loch submarine base, whilst currently investigating a bomb explosion. Could these two incidents be connected?
Full of violence, not just the criminals but the Scottish police as well which was quite shocking at times.
Well written crime mystery, not for the faint hearted. But enjoyed the fast pace and well written characters.
4 Stars ⭐️
Thanks to Netgalley for allowing me to read this book in return for a fair review.
Profile Image for David Mincher.
41 reviews
May 7, 2021
Brilliant work. Anyone who was born in or before the 70's will understand the grittiness of the era. A mix of trainspotting with the sweeney.
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