Ken McCoy Mark Bailey Reviews

Review: Ken McCoy – Dead or Alive (2016)

Ken McCoy – Dead or Alive (2016)

Dead or Alive by Ken McCoy
Dead or Alive by Ken McCoy

Severn House, Hardcover, 256 pages

Published: 1st October 2016 (UK)

ISBN13: ISBN-13: 978-0-7278-8633-0 (cased), 978-1-84751-738-8 (trade paper), 978-1-78010-802-5 (e-book)


Dead or Alive is the first in a new series of thrillers by Ken McCoy about DI Sep Black in Yorkshire, mainly in and around Leeds.

Detective Inspector Sep Black has been forced to resign from the police force following the death of a suspected paedophile in police custody and allegations of spousal abuse from his wife.

He knows that he had been set up but how can he prove it – and stay alive in the process? He is convinced that local gangster Vince Formosa has a mole within the police and sets out to expose the traitor, clear his name and wreak revenge on the men who brought him down.

To do this he must go undercover and find two missing children who the police are convinced have been abducted on their way home from school on the orders of Vince Formosa who wants land that their fathers’ property company owns.


This is a very tightly written thriller – the plot is not wholly convincing but it goes at such a rate of knots that you rarely notice the issues unless you start analysing the book, i.e. for a review.


The central character of Septimus Black is an interesting character who has flaws (and quite a lot of them – he certainly doesn’t play by the rules) but you like him and get emotionally engaged in his quest for justice and a return to something like his former life with the aid of his friend Winnie.


One of the most interesting aspects of the book for me is the timelessness of it – if you found a way around the use of mobile phones (i.e.  by making calls to designated  telephone boxes) and shifted the historical paedophile focus back beyond Saville – it could be set in the 1950s with its Maltese gangster (Vince), traditional tough but fair police man (Septimus) and a (former) tart with an heart (Winnie).


This is a really enjoyable read – you engage emotionally with the characters (especially Septimus and Winnie) and do go through the pages at a rate of knots because it is just so enjoyable.


I received a free copy of this book from the publishers on NetGalley.