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Runaway

by Peter May

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2291293,357 (3.8)16
Glasgow, 2015. Jack Mackay dares not look back on a life of failure and mediocrity. The heavy-hearted sixty-seven-year-old is still haunted by what might have been. His recollections of the terrible events that befell him and his friends some fifty years earlier, and how he did not act when it mattered most is a memory he has tried to escape his entire adult life. London, 2015. A man lies dead in a one-room flat. His killer looks on, remorseless. What started with five teenagers following a dream five decades before has been transformed over the intervening decades into a waking nightmare that might just consume them all.… (more)
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Showing 1-5 of 12 (next | show all)
This is an ok easy to read book.
Set in 1965 and also 50 years later 2015.
The main character is Jack he meets up with his old School pals Maurie who is dying of cancer and Dave a bit of an old alcoholic. They with the help of Jacks Grandson Ricky decide to take a trip from Glasgow to London one last time to try and relive 1965 when they were 15 and wanted to seek fame and fortune.

It didn't all go to plan in the 60s and it doesn't really go well for them again.
There a few issues that need to be cleared up. Jack wants some answers.
In 1965 they got involved in some dodgy drugs that was classed as a type of clinic in Bethnal Green.
Jack got involved with Rachel, Maurie's cousin. One of their friends Jeff dies he jumps off a building.

They return to Glasgow and then 50 years later they take the trip to find out what really went on that night. They have a few adventures and mishaps along the way. They manage to confront the old music director who kind of used them in 1965. Maurie shoots him then himself.

At the end of the book Jack gets to meet his long lost daughter he thought Rachel had terminated all those years ago.

OK book. ( )
  Daftboy1 | Jun 13, 2021 |
Rating: 3.75* of five

The Publisher Says: "Five of us had run away that fateful night just over a month before. Only three of us would be going home. And nothing, nothing would ever be the same again."

Glasgow, 1965. Headstrong teenager Jack Mackay has just one destination on his mind--London--and successfully convinces his four friends, and fellow bandmates, to join him in abandoning their homes to pursue a goal of musical stardom.

Glasgow, 2015. Jack Mackay, heavy-hearted sixty-seven-year-old is still haunted by what might have been. His recollections of the terrible events that befell him and his friends some fifty years earlier, and how he did not act when it mattered most is a memory he has tried to escape his entire adult life.

London, 2015. A man lies dead in a one-room flat. His killer looks on, remorseless.

What started with five teenagers following a dream five decades before has been transformed over the intervening decades into a waking nightmare that might just consume them all.

I RECEIVED AN ARC FROM THE PUBLISHER. IN 2015. AM I EMBARRASSED OR WHAT.

My Review
: Aging. Yuck. No one really likes it...prostate pees for men, hot flashes for women, a general sense of "oh why bother" when confronted with la crise du jour...suddenly all those Godard films you watched to impress that cute guy make sense, ennui is one's default state.

But there are a few who, for whatever (usually external) reason, decide that this just Will Not Do. They put on their velcro-close "running shoes" (ha! like they're ever gonna run absent a fire alarm or a closing buffet) and say, "fuck this I'm outta here." In fact there's quite a little subgenre of books about old folk running away: those Swedish ones by that boring man, what was his name, anyway you know the ones I mean; long ago, Paul Gallico wrote one, Mrs. 'Arris Goes to Paris, and then M from the Bond movies was in that English one set in India...Marigold Something.

We are decidedly not, however, in any of those cute-old-folk entertainments here.

There are secrets in all our pasts. We don't tell others because they're too personal, or too painful, or too embarrassing...rare is the secret, though, that has cost lives in two centuries. Jack Mackay has one of those.

In 1965, Jack and four friends were about to defy the odds and Be Someone. Rise to their personal heights! They had to get the hell away from the dank chains of family, of course, and the mildewy environs of Glasgow. London! Music was happenin' in 1965 London! And they had what it takes, they were going there to build better than their small-time successes.

Tragedy. Humiliation. Homegoing, for some anyway. Jack spends fifty years being, well, nobody and everybody. Mediocre, an almost-was whose life has dragged on and on. Now more changes are being forced on Jack, his awful absence of success is revisiting him with its wet shroudlike envelopment. And suddenly, from the depths of 1965, the Jack of 2015 takes off back to London, his grandson at the wheel, because the siren call of unfinished business is LOUD.

The awful part is that finishing up that business could get people killed. Jack wouldn't be arsed if it was him whose "life" was the only one in danger, but the threat includes his old friends. And his grandson.

I must say that the indentity of the perpetrator of the coercive and criminal scenarios made all the sense in the world to me, and the nature of the disaster in the past was very deeply sad if not terribly unusual. The pure-D unadulterated Peter-May-ness of the resolution to the disasters past and present stems from his utter, abject inability to leave a thread to dangle. Every last end is tightly bound up.

Since Author May is a veteran of the TV mills and decades of thriller- and mystery-writing, he's developed that habit of story-telling and be damned if you, reviewer, wish for something a bit more textured, true to life. As this particular novel is a standalone and is based in part on some of the author's own lived experience, well...maybe it's all down to that specialty of the old, the tidying-up of the past.

I *do* know that, in spite of taking a thoroughly humiliating six years to write this review, I approve of the story, polished and tidied into fiction though it may be. ( )
  richardderus | May 27, 2021 |
Five of us had run away that fateful night just over a month before. Only three of us would be going home. And nothing, nothing would ever be the same again.

'Runaway' is described in the blurb as a crime thriller but is really a road trip adventure that happens to encompass a crime. Nonetheless, I enjoyed it.

-- What's it about? --

In this standalone story set in the 1960s and 2015, Glasgow and London, Peter May introduces us to Jack Mackay, a sixty-seven year old man weighed down by regrets and feeling mildly bitter about living what he considers to be a mediocre life. When Jack is summoned to meet his old pal, Maurie, in the Victoria Infirmary, he is shocked by Maurie's condition, but that shock quickly pales beside his friend's urgent revelation: a three week old murder holds the key to another murder, committed fifty years earlier, and this means they need to runaway to London. Just like they did when they were boys.

Despite his initial reservations, Jack is soon persuaded to leave behind his not especially exciting existence in Glasgow for an adventure to London, and seems to have put about as much thought into this trip as he did when he was seventeen.

-- What's it like? --

Nostalgic. Lightly humorous. Think coming of age story, but also - a coming of old age story. The older Jack is not necessarily much wiser, though he certainly has some lessons to teach his grandson, but he is at least able to recognise the mistakes made in his youth.

I enjoyed the adventures the five young men and the three older men had, though there were elements that felt seriously contrived (of course the young men will just happen to stumble upon an icon or three of the era). The shifts between 1960s London and 2015 London were well handled, with the gradual revelations aiding our growing understanding of the key characters. I like the honesty of the overall story arc. Not all mistakes can be fixed, but life carries on regardless.

The period detail was interesting and I found myself researching a few of the topics touched upon to find out more, which I always think is a good sign of an author who has said just enough to interest you in something and not drowned you in their research!

-- Final thoughts --

This is a good road trip story and I particularly enjoyed the parallels between the two trips. 'Runaway' provides an interesting glimpse into life in 1960s London and could well serve to remind us all to grasp at life, rather than allowing it to drift by.

As for being a crime 'thriller' - I couldn't have cared less about the initial murder and none of the characters cared about the decades old one, which meant the story was an enjoyable adventure rather than a gripping thriller. That said, I liked the denouement, despite the drop of unnecessary sweetness at the end! ( )
  brokenangelkisses | Jul 16, 2018 |
The story is split between two timelines; present day, and 50 years ago. Both times feature mostly the same characters, and both are absorbing adventures. It was unclear how it would end, right up to the conclusion. Definitely worth a read! ( )
  AngelaJMaher | Jun 18, 2018 |
This is my third book by this author. Flashbacks again, between the protagonist's present in his late 60's (2015) to 50 years earlier in 1965. An aspiring rock group of teenagers travel from Glasgow to London with unhappy results that need to be revisited 50 years later. Great read for anyone who grew up in the 50's and 60's - a nice nostalgia trip. This tale is a bit of a black comedy - certainly comedic anyway, as the characters are quite a mixed rag-bag who get into some funny scrapes both in 1965 and again in 2015. Good pace and action, interesting characters. Didn't enjoy it quite as much as the Lewis Trilogy but still an enjoyable read, especially the psychological side - similar themes to other of his books - a sense of loss, looking back to one's youth, regrets over lost opportunities and wasted lives, the rather accidental, or at least unplanned, events that shape one's life. ( )
  MitchMcCrimmon | Apr 27, 2018 |
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Glasgow, 2015. Jack Mackay dares not look back on a life of failure and mediocrity. The heavy-hearted sixty-seven-year-old is still haunted by what might have been. His recollections of the terrible events that befell him and his friends some fifty years earlier, and how he did not act when it mattered most is a memory he has tried to escape his entire adult life. London, 2015. A man lies dead in a one-room flat. His killer looks on, remorseless. What started with five teenagers following a dream five decades before has been transformed over the intervening decades into a waking nightmare that might just consume them all.

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In 1965, five teenage friends fled Glasgow for London to pursue their dream of musical stardom. Yet before year's end three returned, and returned damaged. In 2015, a brutal murder forces those three men, now in their sixties, to journey back to London and finally confront the dark truth they have run from for five decades. Runaway is a crime novel covering fifty years of friendships solidified and severed, dreams shared and shattered and passions lit and extinguished; set against the backdrop of two unique and contrasting cities at two unique and contrasting periods of recent history.
From Amazon.com: "Five of us had run away that fateful night just over a month before. Only three of us would be going home. And nothing, nothing would ever be the same again."

Glasgow, 1965. Headstrong teenager Jack Mackay cannot allow for even the possibility of a life of predictability and routine. The seventeen-year-old has just one destination on his mind--London--and successfully convinces his four friends, and fellow bandmates, to join him in abandoning their homes to pursue a goal of musical stardom.

Glasgow, 2015. Jack Mackay dares not look back on a life of failure and mediocrity. The heavy-hearted sixty-seven-year-old is still haunted by what might have been. His recollections of the terrible events that befell him and his friends some fifty years earlier, and how he did not act when it mattered most is a memory he has tried to escape his entire adult life.

London, 2015. A man lies dead in a one-room flat. His killer looks on, remorseless. What started with five teenagers following a dream five decades before has been transformed over the intervening decades into a waking nightmare that might just consume them all.

Runaway is a tense crime thriller spanning a half-century of friendships solidified and severed, dreams shared and shattered, passions ignited and extinguished, all set against the backdrop of two unique cities at two unique and transformational periods of recent history.
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