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Runaway: An impressive high-stakes mystery thriller

Peter May

5 Reviews

Rated 0

Fiction, Crime & mystery

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 Glasgow and London at two unique and contrasting periods of recent history.


'Peter May is one of the most accomplished novelists writing today.' Undiscovered Scotland
'No one can create a more eloquently written suspense novel than Peter May.' New York Journal of Books


Glasgow, 1965. Jack Mackay dares not imagine a life of predictability and routine. The headstrong seventeen-year-old has one thing on his mind - London - and successfully convinces his four friends, and fellow band mates, 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 the cruel fate that befell him and his friends some fifty years before, and how he did and did not act when it mattered most - a memory he has run from all his adult life.

London, 2015. A man lies dead in a bedsit. His killer looks on, remorseless. What started with five teenagers five decades before will now be finished.

LOVED ENTRY ISLAND? Read the first book in Peter May's acclaimed Lewis Trilogy, THE BLACKHOUSE
LOVE PETER MAY? Buy his new thriller, THE NIGHT GATE

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Praise for Runaway: An impressive high-stakes mystery thriller

  • 'Peter May is a writer I'd follow to the ends of the earth' - New York Times

  • 'A writer at the top of his game' - Daily Express

  • 'Exceptional . . . May is a writer to be cherished' - Daily Mail

  • [a] heartwarming road novel, which nonetheless has its dark and violent moments - West Australian

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Reader reviews (1)

  • “Regret is such a waste of energy. You can’t undo what’s been done. But every new day offers the chance to shape it in the way you want” Runaway is the seventh stand-alone novel by Scottish journalist, screenwriter and author, Peter May. When seventeen-year-old Jack MacKay makes a sudden decision, in 1965, to escape Glasgow and head for London, he is surprised that his four friends are ready to drop everything and become a runaway too. Each has his own reasons, but all are convinced their band, The Shuffle, can make it big in the Big Smoke. But events don’t follow the script they have written: some months later, Jack and two of the band return to Glasgow to nurse their emotional (and physical) wounds. In 2015, the three lads, now in their late sixties, are brought together again by the report of a murder in London. In response to the near-death demand of one of their number, they are heading south again to face up to the shocking events that, fifty years before, shaped their lives, in Jack’s case, for the worse: “…his own sad story was so painfully stark that all the regrets of his life came flooding back to very nearly drown him. All the missed opportunities and squandered chances….. His unrealised dream of becoming a professional musician. Dropping out of university. Settling always for second best, because that was the path of least resistance. Leaving him now, in his late sixties, widowed and alone, treading the boards in the role of a non-speaking extra until it was his turn to exit the stage” May runs the two narratives in tandem: events in 1965 are told by Jack in the first person; those in 2015, in the third person. They have various elements in common: runaways using “borrowed” vehicles; pursuit by disapproving family; diversions off the A74; an inconvenient loss of goods and transport through theft; and a certain money belt. May perfectly evokes the feel of the times, both the sixties and the present day. His wide-eyed, na├»ve lads and his cranky old men are completely convincing, his pacing is faultless and his plot twists are brilliantly conceived. The banter between the characters has a genuine feel and there are plenty of laugh-out-loud moments on both road trips. May gives the reader some marvellous prose and his descriptions are beautifully evocative: “…I grew up in Glasgow in the fifties and sixties, two decades that morphed from sepia to psychedelic before my very eyes as I segued from childhood to adolescence” is one example. While readers of a certain vintage will enjoy the nostalgia, fans of May’s work will not be disappointed, and new readers are sure to seek out his backlist. Funny, moving, and thought-provoking, this is an exceptional read. With thanks to The Reading Room and Hachette Australia for this copy to read and review.

    Marianne Vincent

    Rated 5
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Peter May

Peter May was born and raised in Scotland. He was an award-winning journalist at the age of twenty-one and a published novelist at twenty-six. When his first book was adapted as a major drama series for the BBC, he quit journalism and during the high-octane fifteen years that followed, became one of Scotland's most successful television dramatists. He created three prime-time drama series, presided over two of the highest-rated serials in his homeland as script editor and producer, and worked on more than 1,000 episodes of ratings-topping drama before deciding to leave television to return to his first love, writing novels.

In 2021, he was awarded the CWA Dagger in the Library Award. He has also won several literature awards in France, received the USA's Barry Award for The Blackhouse, the first in his internationally bestselling Lewis Trilogy; and in 2014 was awarded the ITV Specsavers Crime Thriller Book Club Best Read of the Year award for Entry Island. Peter now lives in South-West France with his wife, writer Janice Hally.

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