Happy New Year folks. Hope you had a wonderful night of celebration and are ready to face whatever 2017 has to throw at you.
Over my Christmas break I was busy catching up with a backlog of reading and promised reviews which included the Parliament House series of books by John Mayer. Up first are my reviews of the three prequels, The Cross, The Cycle and The Boots which chart the early (and in the case of The Cross, the very early) years of Advocate Brogan McLane who rose from the gangland back streets of Glasgow to become a successful Advocate in Parliament House.
This story almost predates Brogan McLane, in fact he only really makes a cameo appearance at the end of the book. This is really centred around his father, Sam McLane, and his friendship with Big Tommy Mularkey, a man whose son will be born on the same day as Brogan and much like Tommy to Sam, will later become Brogan’s blood brother.
Set on the day of the Ibrox disaster in 1971, it charts the rising tension between warring factions in Glasgow and the eruption of violence in which the two friends are destined to become embroiled.
It is a very short and quick read, and while it does not give you any real substance to Brogan McLane himself, it does give you his origin. The events which occurred on the day he was born and which to no small extent shaped the as yet unborn Brogan’s future. What might have become of the young McLane had events on this day been different we will never know. However, this short was written with assurance and really highlighted the confusion and the tension which must have occurred on that most tragic of days.
A short and sweet 3.5 stars.
The Official Blurb
The Calton is a community which helps itself.They trust no-one but themselves and especially not the police. So when not one, but two of their widow women are brutally assaulted and robbed of their winnings won in the Grand National horse race, the whole community is cut to the core. Burning for honour to be restored, the 14 year old only sons of the widows, Brogan McLane and Big Joe Mularkey are inducted into the Council of the Calton Bar. On that day, they become men. A suspect is found and brought to Trial late at night in the closed Calton Bar. But what are the facts and will they lead to the Sentence of Solomon ?
A teenage Brogan and a ‘case’ which has such personal resonance for the young man. In this book we get the first glimpse of the man that Brogan will become, but also the strength of the community links which will ultimately keep him tied to his roots and the people of the Calton Bar.
This is an interesting short story that will take only around an hour to read. Tinged with a little of the violence that defines Brogan’s early years, there is also a clear demonstration of the strength of character and the intelligence that the young boy possesses. Capturing both the darkness of the gang or almost mafia-esque culture and the surety and justice seeking nature of Brogan, this book really set the scene for the later books and explains just how Brogan goes from rags to riches so to speak. It also defines the difference between Brogan and his blood-brother, Joe Mularkey but seals their friendship once and for all. A great set up for the future full length novels.
If I had one problem with this book, it’s that I read the full length novel before hand and there is one conflict in the story between that and what happens here. That is the history of Joe Mularkey and how he comes to be known as ‘First Place’. It’s just something that stuck with me but didn’t detract from my overall enjoyment of the story itself.
The Official Blurb
In Parliament House, Brogan McLane is Boots of Faculty, meaning he is the latest person to proudly add their name on the Roll of Advocates. After many years of prize-winning study and training for the Scottish Supreme Court, he’s thrilled. But he doesn’t yet have any cases to work on.
A senior police officer, Chief Inspector Terry Imrie, is facing a Discipline Tribunal for making a minor mistake which let a scumbag who beat and robbed an old couple in their own home, walk free. But his top lawyer is stranded in court in another case. The Dean of Faculty instructs McLane to take Imrie’s case. McLane is full of enthusiasm until he sees under the Tribunal Table a line of highly polished black police boots; waiting to boot out the guilty man.Horrified that such a minor mistake can lead to such awful consequences for an honest police officer, McLane thinks he sees a way of interpreting the Police (Scotland) Regulations his way.
But will the Scottish Supreme Court agree with him? Can McLane really get the law changed in a way that leads to his client being re-instated and the scum being re-arrested and jailed for his awful crime?
This is the third prequel and Brogan McLane’s first solo case since being called to the bar. The newest of the Advocates in Parliament House, traditionally known as ‘The Boots’, Brogan is handed a tribunal case, one which is seems the panel has already decided the outcome of. It is therefore up to Brogan to find a way to successfully defend his client, Detective Inspector Terry Imrie.
What I really do like about this book, and the main full length novel, is the attention to detail that John Mayer captures about Parliament House and the whole tradition of the Advocates. Clearly he has been through this himself so would know better than most, but really makes it live on the page and it makes a refreshing change to see the other side of the justice system.
In this book we see the makings of Brogan McLane, of his reasoned arguments and the kind of resolve, if a little rough and ready at this point, that will make him such a formidable and to some, threatening opponent in future years. Yes he has all the exuberance of a novice, and makes mistakes to boot, but you cannot question his intelligence or his commitment and passion to his job. It is a little heavy on the legal speak, but not inaccessible and is a great precursor to characters and setting in the main novel, The Trial.
A justice seeking 4.5 stars.
All of the Parliament House prequels are available to purchase on Amazon at the following links. I received an ARC of these books from the author, John Mayer.
The Cross: Amazon UK
The Cycle: Amazon UK
The Boots: Amazon UK