In a recent interview, Irish author Declan Hughes talks about his Ed Loy mystery series. The books, he says, are family gothic. "Despite the impression Irish people give that we're open and friendly and candid, there's a lot we don't want to tell you -- a lot of skeletons in our closets."
In this third Ed Loy P. I. novel, Hughes relates a family saga full of family blood, betrayal, and secrets. Keeping the secrets is THE PRICE OF BLOOD. (The UK title THE DYING BREED expresses the content well, too.)
Ed Loy, a private investigator, is asked to solve the disappearance of a jockey who worked for the prominent racehorse trainer, F. X. Tyrell. The Tyrells are well known in the region around north Wicklow and the Dublin Border. They, two brothers and a sister, are the usual rich Irish Catholic family: elder brother inherits the farm, younger becomes a priest, and unmarried sister comes home and keeps house for her older brother. Along the way Ed works closely with boyhood friend Dave Connelly, a detective sergeant with the Garda, as they try to solve three murders by the Omega Man, a vicious killer who cuts out the tongues of his victims. (Dave and Ed's trip to the morgue in Chapter Seven explains their camaraderie with a bit of humor.)
This powerful tale takes the reader into the midst of contemporary Irish life in Dublin and features one of Ireland's most anticipated sports events, the four-day Leopardstown Racecourse Christmas Festival.
And reveals the secrets of the industrial schools of yesterday. It seems F. X. Tyrell recruited his jockeys from the lads at the not-quite-an orphanage for wayward boys. After a chilling contemporary visit to the remains of one such school, Hughes comments:
...The basic components were all in place: half-educated Christian Brothers, some of whom had themselves been physically and sexually abused, inflicting that abuse on others; abuse among the boys themselves as the old turned on the young; a collective disbelief among the wider community, including priests, teachers, the Guards, a justice of the peace, and even journalists on the local paper, that amounted to denial...
Hughes has indeed written another Irish tale of family secrets. You'll enjoy reading his previous Ed Loy books, too.
The Wrong Kind of Blood
The Color of Blood