Created by Declan Hughes
“I said a prayer, or something like a prayer, offering it up to theclear, starry sky, then slipped and nearly fell on an early frost outside McGoldrick’s pub.”
— from The Price of Blood
Award-winning Irish playwright, and the co-founder of Dublin’s Rough Magic Theatre Company, Declan Hughes’ The Wrong Kind of Blood (2006) was, without a doubt, one hell of a debut, the first book in a proposed trilogy, and it heralded the arrival of what now looked like a major new voice in P.I. fiction, even nabbing a Shamus Award for Best First P.I. Novel.
No, really. It’s got its flaws, but this sucker has a real kick to it. There are echoes of everyone from Ross Macdonald to Ken Bruen in this sad but moving tale of EDWARD LOY, a once-successful Los Angeles private investigator who returns to his native Dublin for his mother’s funeral, and gets dragged into looking for an old friend’s missing husband. But the deeper he gets into the case, the more it seems to point to his past, and the disappearance of his own father years ago.
Coyly subtitled “An Irish Novel of Betrayal” (downgraded to “An Irish novel of suspense” for the paperback reprint) the book has an emotional drive to it that tears into the guts of all the carefully constructed lies we tell ourselves about the past so we can go on living and suggests that no matter what you tell yourself, ultimately you can’t go home again.
Or maybe that you can’t NOT go home again. Or at least not easily.
And blood always tells.
If that first Loy outing was a warning shot fired across the bows of a genre that too often settles for a sort of anemic predictability, its sequel, The Color of Blood (2007) is no tentative warning — it’s a direct hit, an audacious, full-blooded scream in the night, a bruising, ferocious assault on the evil that families do. It starts as a seemingly simple wandering-daughter job but turns very bad very quickly, culminating in a particularly brutal conclusion — a prolonged pummeling as each piece of the Byzantine plot snaps firmly into place, every new revelation another blow to the reader.
Imagine Macdonald with blood on his hands. Not for the faint of heart, but highly recommended.
In fact, it was hard to see where Declan would go after Color — and indeed, 2008’s The Price of Blood suffered from following too closely the pattern of its predecessors. Not that’s its weak, or poorly written — I doubt Hughes has a bad book in him at this point, but it does suffer a little from familiarity; as though he’s rewriting the same book again and again. But, Macdonald fan that he is, he should appreciate this thought — it’s one hell of a book.
Then, in a move right out of the sci-fi/fantasy genre, that once-promised trilogy has series, become a series, followed by All the Dead Voices (2009) and City of Lost Girls (2010).
Even better, though, is that in 2016, after a six-year absence, Ed Loy returned in a short story in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, hopefully signalling the return of the Dublin gumshoe.
Hope, on this lovely St. Patrick’s Day in 2019, springs eternal…
- “Declan Hughes has an unparalled grip on the parallel uiniverses of contemporary Dublin, and his Ed Loy series just keeps getting better … (All the Dead Voices) has an elegiac post-Tiger, post-Troubles feel – which just turns Hughes’s stylish noir an even darker shade of black”
— Irish Times
- The Wrong Kind of Blood (2006) | Buy this book | Kindle it!
- The Color of Blood (2007) | Buy this book | Kindle it!
- The Price of Blood (2008; aka “The Dying Breed”) | Buy this book | Kindle it!
- All the Dead Voices (2009) | Buy this book | Kindle it!
- City of Lost Girls (2010) | Buy this book | Kindle it!
- “Upon the Stair” (March/April 2016, EQMM)
The 2007 January Magazine interview with the author, conducted by yours truly.
- Irish Eyes, Smiling or Otherwise
Private eyes of the Emerald Isle.