Published: John Murray, 2007
ISBN: 978 0 7195 6841 1
First line: The last case I worked, I found a sixteen-year-old girl for her father; when she told me what he had done to her, I let her stay lost.
After receiving some compromising photos of his missing teenage daughter, Emily, along with a ransom demand, wealthy Shane Howard employs Dublin private investigator Ed Loy to find her. This task is no difficulty for someone with Ed's knowledge of Dublin's darker side. However, disentangling himself from the Howard family proves more difficult.
When Emily's ex-boyfriend is found murdered in his flat things start to get very messy. Ed finds himself enmeshed in a complicated web of pornography, blackmail, gangsters and murder; not to mention a family with some deeply buried secrets that they would very much like to stay buried. The key to the current events lies long in the past, and as Ed starts making the connections that draw all the threads together, the story moves along at a rapid pace until the final dramatic scenes.
The Colour of Blood has an extremely complex plot, and it's a sign of Hughes' skill that he was not only able to keep track of all the various threads, but to untangle them so neatly by the end. The story revolves around the Howards – and a more dysfunctional family you'd never want to meet. On the surface they appear to have everything – money, success and social position, but underneath they're sinking in a veritable cesspool of deceit and secrecy. Ed's involvement in the case is further complicated by his attraction to Shane's sister, the beautiful and sexy Sandra Howard.
Ed is tough and resilient in the noir PI tradition. He has a strong moral core that compels him to search out the truth, even if that truth is sometimes an uncomfortable one. His past, particularly the death of his daughter, and his subsequent broken marriage, continue to haunt him.
The Colour of Blood is a worthy sequel to The Wrong Kind of Blood, the first in the Ed Loy series, and I look forward to reading the next book, The Dying Breed (The Price of Blood in the USA). The fourth in the series, All the Dead Voices has just been released in Britain and Australia.
For more information go to Declan Hughes' website
September on AustCrimeFiction
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