To Die In June by Alan Parks

May 25, 2023

Please note, To Die in June is book six in an ongoing series. It’s possible this review may contain minor spoilers for those of you who haven’t read books one to five. Consider yourselves duly warned. 

A woman enters a Glasgow police station to report her son missing, but no record can be found of the boy. When Detective Harry McCoy, seconded from the cop shop across town, discovers the family is part of the cultish Church of Christ’s Suffering, he suspects there is more to Michael’s disappearance than meets the eye.

Meanwhile reports arrive of a string of poisonings of down-and-outs across the city. The dead are men who few barely notice, let alone care about – but, as McCoy is painfully aware, among this desperate community is his own father.

Even as McCoy searches for the missing boy, he must conceal from his colleagues the real reason for his presence – to investigate corruption in the station. Some folk pray for justice. Detective Harry McCoy hasn’t got time to wait.

Working on the assumption that each Harry McCoy novel is going to contain a month of the year in the title, with To Die In June we have reached the halfway point in this series. Alan Parks’ latest slice of 1970s-flavoured Scottish crime fiction is another exceptional addition to the existing catalogue. I’m pleased to report there are no signs of things slowing down yet. Glasgow remains a chaotic melting pot of organised crime, religious intolerance and good old-fashioned violence. 

Six years down the line from when we first met him, Harry McCoy is still a reasonably, dedicated cop and a shambles as a human being. The traumas of his childhood continue to cast a long shadow. Each new case heightens the realisation that the past will continue to hold sway over his life until he confronts it. I suspect that when this inevitable moment comes it is going to be particularly explosive. McCoy isn’t always the subtlest of men when it comes to resolving problems. 

We’ve reached the point where there is a well-established continuity and a sense of familiarity with the characters. Harry, Wattie, Stevie Cooper and Jumbo all feel well-rounded, fleshed out and human. It’s a credit to the author that I can picture each one of them so easily. I love that Stevie Cooper is an out-and-out villain but you can’t help but like him. I’m sure we’d get along famously over a pint of Tennent’s, as long as I stayed on his good side.  

I think I can now confidently say that this my favourite series of novels at the moment. It might sound funny but even though To Die in June falls squarely into the crime genre it still makes me look back at my shabby, old home town through rose-tinted spectacles. Every reader needs to find a series of books that make them feel like this. Parks’ visceral, evocative writing gets me in the gut every time. He just has to mention a shop or a pub and memories come flooding back. Each new Harry McCoy novel is a dark-themed love letter to the places and people that make Glasgow the unique place that it is. 

The story ends on a suitably downbeat note as threads from other books are woven expertly into the narrative. I’m left with the question, what do the fates have in store for the Detective Inspector? I can’t wait to find out. 

To Die in June is published by Canongate and is available now. I cannot recommend it enough. I would suggest checking out Harry’s previous cases before though,  if you haven’t already.

Regular readers of The Eloquent Page are aware that I like to suggest a musical accompaniment to partner with every book I read*. For this series, I’ve taken that one step further. Not only does every novel in the Harry McCoy series get a recommendation they are also decade appropriate and, if that was enough, the artists are also all Scottish. 

Here is the full list so far…

Book Title


Album Title

Bloody January

Stone the Crows

Teenage Licks

February’s Son

Stone the Crows

Best of

Bobby March Will Live Forever

Frankie Miller

Once in a Blue Moon

The April Dead

Humble Pie


May God Forgive

The Sensational Alex Harvey Band

The Impossible Dream

To Die in June


Hair of the Dog**


*Like some sort of crazed, fiction-fuelled book sommelier. 

**Trust me, this latest addition to the list is a real winner. Track one has Harry’s name written all over it. Heck, it was even released in the year the book was set. Never let it be said I dont go the extra mile for you guys. 

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