Runaway by Peter May

This is the fourth novel by Peter May that I’ve read in the last twelve months or so: he’s definitely on my ‘must read’ list.

Runaway by Peter May

‘I’m thinking as straight as I’ve ever done,’ I said.  “I’m going and I’m going tonight.’

In 1965 Jack Mackay is seventeen.  When he’s expelled from school in Glasgow after a school dance, he decides that running away to London is a good idea.  Jack and his friends, Maurie, Luke, Dave and Jeff are members of a band called ‘Shuffle’, and together they decide to abandon Glasgow for musical stardom in London.

In 2015 Jack Mackay is sixty-seven, living back in Glasgow, and haunted by memories from 1965.  His friend Maurie, terminally ill, sees a report of a brutal murder in the local newspaper.  Returning to London to face the past is what he wants to do, and that is what he does, together with Jack, Jeff and Jack’s grandson Ricky.

‘Settling always for second best, because that was the path of least resistance.’

So what happened in 1965?  And what is the point of their trip in 2015?  The novel moves between 1965 and 2015, between young confident men who learn that the world is not as nice a place as they thought, and older men trying to face up to events they’ve spent half a century running away from.  And while the older men learn, Ricky is also finding his own place in the world.

I’ve read four of Peter May’s novels so far, and enjoyed each one of them.  There were a few twists that I didn’t work out in this novel until close to the end: I suspect that I was too busy reading to find out what would happen next rather than paying close attention to the detail.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith



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