The mood is pretty grim in Scottish writer Alan Parks’s version of Glasgow in 1973. The poverty, dreary weather, 24-hour drinking, casual heroin use, organized crime, and a creepy gang of Clockwork Orange re-enactors give the impression of a city that’s given up and caved to its worst instincts.
But they’ve still got rock ’n’ roll, so it’s all the more depressing when Bobby March, a homegrown, if has-been, rock star, overdoses in a hotel room and the jaded populace barely blinks an eye. Instead, that collective eye is firmly fixed on the unfolding saga of young Alice Kelly, who has been kidnapped and is feared dead by thousands of mesmerized Glaswegians. Trying to sort this out, along with a few other problems, is Detective Inspector Harry McCoy of the Glasgow Police, who’s not assigned to the Kelly case but keeps his hand in nonetheless. McCoy is a classic noir cop, basically decent but well acquainted with the city’s underground and comfortable operating in the shadows to bring about an acceptable result. Moral ambiguity is baked into his job and his character.