The Price of Blood by Declan Hughes
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Declan Hughes' "The Price of Blood" is the third novel in the series that features Ed Loy, a private detective, who - after spending 20 years in Los Angeles - returns to Dublin, the place of his birth and youth. I have reviewed the first two books here and here. I like them more than the current book, mainly because they are more reminiscent of Ross Macdonald's work and because the writing is better. In "The Price of Blood", the sins of the past also cast a long shadow upon the present, but the plot is ridiculously complicated and the premise ends up being quite implausible.
Ed Loy is summoned to Father Vincent Tyrrell who hires him to... - neither Ed nor we are sure what Father Tyrrell wants Ed to do. He just mentions a name and implies that he is bound by the seal of the confessional. When Ed begins working the case, it quickly grows to include several murders with cruel mutilation of victims' bodies. It also involves shenanigans in horse racing and severe abuse in the so-called "industrial schools", institutions for wayward youth.
What I particularly dislike about this novel are passages that detail savage beatings that do not seem to serve any purpose. A man breaks another man's nose, and a fountain of blood erupts. They talk for a while, and then the other guy breaks the nose of the first one, and blood spurts again, along with fragments of bone. Finally, one drives the other to an emergency room. Of course we all know that there are many people who love inflicting pain on other people. It is just that the scenes of beatings in this novel do not make much sense - both parties are deeply unhappy about the incident, and no one gains anything. I hope I am not just unaware of some secret rituals of Irish culture.
I also do not like the increased reliance on Tommy Owens in furthering the plot. Tommy is not an interesting character at all. The fragments of plot with a bad cop, Geraghty, are cartoonish. I find the entire climax of the plot, including silly theatricals, and the change of narrative mode when the major parts of denouement are revealed, quite disappointing.
"The Price of Blood" has little in common with the artistry and depth of Ross Macdonald. There is almost nothing original in this novel, which reads as a weak rewrite of the previous books, with inane plot and artificial characters
One and a half stars.
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