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The Price of Blood: An Irish Novel of Suspense    by Declan Hughes Amazon.com order for
Price of Blood
by Declan Hughes
Order:  USA  Can
William Morrow, 2008 (2008)
Hardcover, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Tim Davis

Another Irish writer is making quite a name for himself in the world of crime-mystery writing. Declan Hughes, already having given readers The Wrong Kind of Blood and The Color of Blood, now distinguishes himself in The Price of Blood. Alert readers will notice something of a trend in this talented author's titles; the word blood, of course, features prominently, and in The Price of Blood, readers will want to give careful attention to the denotations and connotations of the word blood.

At the outset of this new novel, Father Vincent Tyrrell of Dublin turns to private investigator Ed Loy and asks him, in a rather abbreviated and cryptic way, to take on a special job. Father Tyrrell simply says to Loy: 'Patrick Hutton was ... is his name.' Implicit in the priest's statement, in a strange way, is the request that Loy find out everything there is to know about the mysterious Patrick Hutton.

Although only somewhat interested initially in the priest's enigmatic challenge, Loy is more than a little encouraged by the 5,000 pound payment. After all, Loy, as it turns out, has had few jobs lately (since coming back home to Dublin after having spent some time in Los Angeles), he is being overwhelmed by debt, and he spends too much of his time either in churches or in pubs; so, haunted by his past (which seems to be standard background for fictional PIs) and facing dim prospects for his future, Loy agrees to take on what turns out to be a long, difficult, and disturbing case.

Early into his investigation, Loy learns that Patrick Hutton, a racehorse jockey, disappeared ten years ago, which obviously makes the trail for finding him a bit cold; next, while investigating a seemingly unrelated case, Loy discovers a strangely mutilated dead body that had been dumped in a trash heap near a reservoir; then Loy next tracks down Patrick Hutton's wife, the seductive and mysterious Miranda Hart. Putting the small and slowly accumulating pieces of the puzzle together, Loy finds himself looking into a case that seems to revolve simply around the corrupt world of horse racing. But more dead bodies begin to clutter up the murderous trail to the truth, and Loy finds himself repeatedly confounded by any number of characters who seem to know more than they are willing to admit about some very closely guarded secrets.

Readers looking for a challenging mystery in which colorful characters, gritty dialogue, and strong Irish urban color dominate will enjoy The Price of Blood. Writing with a distinctive style (that has been compared to Chandler, Hammett, Woolrich, and Macdonald), Declan Hughes knows how to sharpen and wield the razor-sharp edge of modern noir detective fiction (in some ways transcending even Ian Rankin), and in The Price of Blood, this talented Irish author's commendable skills are on full display in a virtuoso performance.

2nd Review by Mary Ann Smyth:

Pay close attention whilst reading The Price of Blood. The plot is convoluted, and at times hard to follow, but it's well worth the effort. After the reader has come to terms with the 'F' word being used in every context as verb, adjective, noun, adverb, and in any other way possible to interject it into the story it soon becomes old hat and registers as just another word.

When Ed Loy, a PI working in Dublin, is asked by a Catholic priest to find a missing person, he is pulled into a case with broad repercussions. He finds a dead body that has links to the missing man. When confronting that man's wife, he walks into a real hornet's nest, one that will keep the reader guessing 'til almost the last page. More deaths occur (with signs suggesting a cult is involved) and the horse racing society is brought into the mix - as well as sexual practices at a local private boy's school.

The highways and byways of Dublin and environs brought Ireland alive to this reviewer, bringing back many memories of time spent in Eire. The characters almost seem too intense to be true, but are perfectly believable, whether they are men or women of questionable character or one of the few who wear a white hat. There are shady characters doing good things and good characters doing despicable things, so that you're not quite sure who to root for.

The Price of Blood by Declan Hughes is the third in the Ed Loy series. Hughes has also written plays that have been seen in the UK and Europe, and holds big screen credits - a talented man who writes it as it is.

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