Glasgow is a city in mourning. An arson attack on a hairdresser's has left five dead. Tempers are frayed and sentiments running high. When three youths are charged the city goes wild. A crowd gathers outside the courthouse but as the police drive the young men to prison, the van is rammed by a truck, and the men are grabbed and bundled into a car. The next day, the body of one of them is dumped in the city centre. A note has been sent to the newspaper: one down, two to go. Detective Harry McCoy has 24 hours to find the kidnapped boys before they all turn up dead, and it is going to mean taking down some of Glasgow's most powerful people to do it.
A good example of the genre, enjoyably readable, hovering on the verge of being incredible, not quite toppling over ... The violence of the novel is at times extreme, though, as the convention of the hard-boiled school of crime has it, men recover remarkably quickly from injuries that would land others in hospital for weeks. There are also scenes of repulsive torture, vile to read , nevertheless compelling, and there is a sadly convincing strand of the plot conserved with child abuse ... There is no reason why there shouldn’t be many more. He is an adequately convincing hero and Parks is a gifted story-teller. He knows when to cut a scene short and is adept at the important craft of pacing the narrative ... The plot brings in many fine things and others that are suitably grisly, and for a long novel it moves with a satisfying speed. There may be more violent deaths than is probable, but this is an acceptable convention in the rich and now crowded field of tartan noir.
Topping good ... May God Forgive is a fleet, dialogue-powered, satisfying story full of all the violence and depravity that readers have come to expect from Parks. But the novel's most devastating scenes involve McCoy's personal history, which his work won't do him the courtesy of letting him forget.