The Wrong Kind of Blood by Declan Hughes
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
"It all goes back to Fagan's Villas": the sentence is repeated several times in Declan Hughes' "The Wrong Kind of Blood". Current events are echoes of dramatic events in the past. This 2006 Irish book reads almost like a classic Ross Macdonald novel; "The Underground Man" comes to mind. "The present is washing away the sins of the past."
Ed Loy, who spent his youth in Dublin, works as a private investigator in Los Angeles. He returns to Ireland for his mother's funeral. His former schoolmate hires him to look for her missing husband. Soon, the case explodes; there are two deaths, and connections emerge to shady business dealings and corruption among city councillors. The plot is interesting until the very end even if it has too many "twists and turns".
"The Wrong Kind of Blood" belongs to the noir genre, but in comparison with Ross Macdonald's work it is a bit overwrought. The American master was able to further the plot and convey the atmosphere with fewer sentences. Also, Mr. Hughes includes scenes of brutal beatings, and while such beating happen all the time in real life, I do not find them compatible with the somber tone of this novel.
I have not enjoyed all of Mr. Hughes' literary tricks. The passages in italics are occasionally irritating or aimed at confusing the reader. Mr. Dagg's rationing of information serves only one purpose - to slow down the progress of the plot. The climactic scene close to the ending is silly and theatrical.
Still, the positives outweigh the negatives and it is a good book. I love the little story about a guy on the Venice, California, boardwalk selling T-shirts that read "The rich are different from us - they get away with it", and no one is buying any. The very ending, while grim, is moving. And I have gotten some sense of Irishness from the novel, although I would like much more. I guess I need to read "Ulisses".
Three and a half stars.
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