Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Pg. 69: Declan Hughes' "The Price of Blood"

The current feature at the Page 69 Test: The Price of Blood by Declan Hughes.

About the book, from the publisher's website:
What's in a name? Apparently everything for Ed Loy, because that's the only information Father Vincent Tyrrell, brother of prominent racehorse trainer F. X. Tyrrell, offers when he asks for Ed's help in finding a missing person. Even the best private eye needs more than just a name, but hard times and a dwindling bank account make it difficult for Loy to say no.

He is not without luck, however. While working another case, Loy discovers a phone number that seems linked to F.X. found on an unidentified body. Thinking it more than a coincidence, he begins digging into the history of the Tyrrells—a history consumed with trading and dealing, gambling and horse breeding—and soon realizes there is more to the family than meets the eye, a suspicion confirmed when two more people with connections to the Tyrrells are killed.

On the eve of one of Ireland's most anticipated sporting events, the four-day Leopardstown Race-course Christmas Festival, all bets are off as Loy pursues a twisted killer on the final leg of a reckless master plan.

In The Price of Blood, Declan Hughes once again paints an arresting portrait of an Ireland not found in any guidebooks. Deadly passions beget dark secrets in a chilling story that will have readers on edge right up to its shocking conclusion.
Among the early praise for The Price of Blood:
"Hired by Father Vincent Tyrrell to find Patrick Hutton, a jockey missing for 10 years, Ed Loy quickly finds himself investigating not one but two grisly murders in playwright Hughes's stellar third novel to feature the Dublin PI (after 2007's The Color of Blood). At the same time, Loy must stay on his guard against members of the Halligan family, who blame him for the incarceration of one of their own. An innocent fling with the mysterious Miranda Hart leads Loy ever deeper into the heart of a complex drama that spans decades and involves several members of the powerful Tyrrell family. At least one murder turns out not to be what it seems. Beaten up, warned off and yet undaunted, Loy uncovers a horrible series of secrets, leading to a violent and labyrinthine conclusion at a famous Irish horse-racing festival. This intelligent, often brutal thriller will have readers' hearts racing from start to finish."
--Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Hughes, a former playwright, is a veteran at establishing mood, pace and tone at an early stage, and the Christmas period during which the events swiftly unfold is as much a player in this story as any of its flesh-and-blood characters. He’s also very good at weaving together a number of diverse sub-plots, and here touches on a number of hot-topic issues of recent Irish history: corruption in Irish horseracing; neglect and abuse in Church-run industrial schools; the declining influence of the Church when juxtaposed with the inexorable rise of Mammon; the infiltration of all levels of Irish society by illegally amassed wealth. The style, which is of the tough, hardboiled variety, owes as much to Raymond Chandler as it does Ross Macdonald, with Hughes showcasing a deft hand at leavening the grim tone with flashes of mordant wit: 'Neither had been a jockey; the plasterer sounded amused at the suggestion, the solicitor mysteriously outraged, as if I’d accused him of being a sex criminal, or a DJ.'"
--Declan Burke

"Hughes's abilities to craft a 'Dublin noir' crime novel and to expand the character of Ed Loy combine to make this a welcome addition to an eminently readable new series. Highly recommended."
--Library Journal

“Tough, ironically self-aware, loyal, Ed [Loy] is the perfect Chandleresque hero. But the book’s various twists, including rumours of Catholic abuse at a now-closed home for boys, wrap themselves around a dense core of Irish authenticity, all the voices pitch-perfect, all the developments dark,”
--P.G. Koch, Houston Chronicle

"This dark mystery manges to be quintessentially, unsentimentally Irish - and as twisty and nasty as The Big Sleep and Chinatown ... atmospheric and tough, with a lot of excellently described drinking."
Learn more about Declan Hughes and his books at the publisher's website, his website, and his blog. Read Kevin Burton Smith's June 2007 interview with Hughes at January Magazine.

Hughes has worked for more than twenty years in the theater in Dublin as director and playwright. In 1984, he co-founded Rough Magic, Ireland's leading independent theater company. He has been writer in association with the Abbey Theatre and remains an artistic associate of Rough Magic. His novels include The Wrong Kind of Blood and The Color of Blood.

The Page 69 Test: The Price of Blood.

--Marshal Zeringue