Declan Hughes

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Cool people saying nice things

While this blog lay unattended for most of last year, some very cool people said some very nice things about All The Dead Voices, and I thought I would be remiss in not bringing a few of them to your attention:

Marian Keyes in The Irish Times:
I love a good thriller and there have been excellent ones this year from Michael Connolly, Ian Rankin and Val McDermid, but my favourite has to be Declan Hughes's All The Dead Voices, the fourth book starring Ed Loy and the best yet. Hughes delivers a cracking plot and although he writes with passion and humour about contemporary Ireland, in some ways his books are reminiscent of the hard-bitten noir of the likes of Raymond Chandler.

Andrew Taylor in The Spectator:
Dublin has a special relationship with fiction, which in recent years has inspired some excellent crime novels. Among them is Declan Hughes's Ed Loy series, which gives a distinctively Irish twist to the flawed private investigator of American pulp fiction. Loy has many of the classic characteristics of the breed, including the tastes for hard liquor, lovely women and lost causes. But Hughes places his protagonist in a sharply observed contemporary Dublin; and his plots erupt from the city's faultlines.

In All The Dead Voices, the fourth novel in the series, a woman hires Loy to investigate a cold case - the murder of her father, a tax inspector with a dangerous habit of asking questions about the ill-gotten gains of powerful and superficially respectable people. Organised crime and dissident Republicanism inhabit a shady underworld of drugs, clubs and guns. This is a novel about how the present struggles to come to terms with the past: 'There's a reckoning you can make with history, a reasonable settlement, ' Loy believes. 'And then there's a kind of morbid fascination that borders on obsession . . .' On one level this is Dublin Noir at its best. On a deeper level, the real subject of Ed Loy's investigation is modern Ireland itself.

And in his books of the year, also in The Spectator:
Declan Hughes’s All the Dead Voices is an exuberantly written slice of Dublin noir: a Chandleresque private eye novel set in modern Ireland that keeps within the conventions of the genre but reinvigorates them.

Margaret Cannon in The Globe and Mail:
Fans of the classic hardboiled mystery are a difficult group to satisfy. The three are often copied, but seldom do writers actually manage to combine great character-driven novels with iconic prose styling, terrific dialogue and a stellar sense of place. Dubliner Declan Hughes delivers all that and more; this series is Chandler updated and polished to hardboiled perfection.
Ed Loy once lived in L.A., but he's returned to his Irish roots. His Dublin is the city of the Celtic dream, with ex-IRA thugs transformed into pseudo-English gentry, where skinny new mothers huddle outside the Maternity Hospital sucking on cigarettes while, across town, thin rich wives head up charity drives and husbands field race horses and ride the property roller-coaster.
Ed Loy, kitted out in his handmade linen suits, cashmere coats, Dax lace-ups, French cuffs and sterling links, is literally tailor-made to be the investigator of the hour, at £1,000 a day. He has two cases going. The first is to find the killer of a local soccer star, the brother of an old friend. The boy may have been a drug peddler or worse, but he died on Loy's watch, and Loy considers himself responsible to the family.
Then there's sexy little Anne Fogarty, whose father was murdered 15 years earlier, supposedly by her mother's lover but, Anne claims, really by one of three once-powerful IRA leaders, two of whom are now equally powerful heads of crime families and the third a leader of Dublin society. Old politics and new money make very strange bedfellows in the New Ireland.
Hughes weaves all the history, background and conflict into clear, elegant prose. This isn't a wordy novel with lots of filler, food and bad sex. Every paragraph matters, and the dialogue snaps, as Loy drifts from high Irish to Dublin drawl with wit and charm. This is the fourth novel in this fabulous series, and I've loved them all. You will too.

Oline Cogdill in Mystery Scene:

Declan Hughes has become to Ireland what Ian Rankin is to Scotland. Irish playwright Hughes' evocative look at Dublin and the city's changes are just a couple of the pleasures in his exciting fourth novel. In All the Dead Voices, Hughes focuses on Ireland's violent past, especially "the Troubles," that time from the 1960s to about 1998 when Northern Ireland's political conflicts exploded across the country and beyond.

Private detective Ed Loy tackles two cases that intersect. Ann Fogarty hires Ed to find out who killed her father, a revenue inspector, more than 15 years ago. The police had arrested the lover of Ann's mother, but the man was acquitted and Ann had never believed he was the killer. At the same time, Ed is asked to keep an eye on a rising soccer star who may be involved with a drug dealer.

Ed finds that both cases involve former members of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) and Irish National Liberation Army (INLA). For the most part, these men, still hardened by their past, have tried to legitimize their business dealings. But they tend to brush off the many casualties of their violence with the mantras: "It was regrettable...It was wrong...It shouldn't have happened."

Loy is sick of the cavalier attitude that allows these former rebels to avoid responsibility for their actions. "History?" he says incredulously. "Bloodshed and glory and death." Adding to this view of Ireland's past, All the Dead Voices takes place during Easter weekend, a pivotal time of "the Troubles."

Hughes offers a vivid portrait of Ireland, depicting a country that just a few years ago was in the midst of an economic boom that has since gone bust. The excellent All the Dead Voices surpasses even last year's The Price of Blood, which earned Hughes an Edgar nomination.

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