Sequel to The Wrong Kind of Blood, in which private eye Ed Loy returned to his native Dublin after 20 years in Los Angeles.
Loy is asked to find Emily, a teenager from the prestigious Howard family, after pornographic photos of her are sent to her father. He locates her easily, but not before he finds a body, the first of several murders that will rip the Howards apart, unearthing long-buried secrets.
Loy is a hard-boiled private eye, somewhat in the Marlowe vein: "a man of honor, by instinct, by inevitability, without thought of it, and certainly without saying it. … He is a common man or he could not go among common people. He has a sense of character, or he would not know his job."
He observes the Howards with a horrified fascination: "I realized then that I wanted, as much as anything else, to understand this family in their houses on the tops of hills, to uncover their secrets, to see the Howards plain. Once I had admitted that to myself, I knew that there was no way on earth I was stepping off this train until the end." He thrives on chaos, from a need to make patterns and establish the connections they can’t see.
Loy throws in observations on contemporary Irish society from his outsider’s perspective, skewering the post-colonial mentality wrought by the Celtic Tiger, the hedonistic mindlessness of teenage clubbers, and the man-boys of the south Dublin rugby clubs. He condemns the failures of previous generations too, notably the Catholic Church’s strangehold and their willing enforcers, the doctors.
None of these distract from a fast-paced, well-told story; they inform it and place it in a context. Hughes has a light touch with the Hiberno-English idioms, and non-Irish readers should have no problems following the dialog.
Minor quibbles: for a man who’s just come back from two decades in America, he hardly thinks about it at all. And did the two gurriers, Darren and Wayne, have to have the name Reilly?
(Per my Review Policy, HarperCollins provided me with a review copy of the book.)