Saturday, February 21, 2009

"The Price of Blood" by Delcan Hughes

Delcan Hughes is an Irish playwright and director. This story is billed as an Irish novel of suspense. It tells a story of a part of Dublin full of pain, loathing and deep secrets.

Ed Loy is a PI and is asked by Fr. Vincent Tyrrell to find Patrick Hutton, a jockey who has been missing for 10 years. Fr. Tyrrell's manner makes it seem that he is agonized with this man's story. Ed asks for more information from Fr. Tyrrell and the priest tells Ed that he knows more but because of the seal of confession, he cannot disclose it.

Leo Halligan is just out of prison and set on revenge against Ed for putting his brother into prison.
Ed is investigating a case of vandalism. While on that case, he comes upon a body and when he views the body and searches the man's pockets he finds record of a bet with a local bookie. The short stature of the body and betting receipt make him think he has found Patrick Hutton, he wonders at the coincidence, 10 years missing and dead as soon as Ed is asked to find him.
There is a tattoo of a crucifix and the Greek omega on the man's arm and soon after this body is discovered another body turns up with the same marks on the body. It turns out that this was another detective who had previously been hired to find Patrick.
Patrick Hutton worked for Fr. Tyrrell's brother, F.X. Tyrrell a prominent horse trainer. They had a number of successes together but as Ed investigates he finds there were a number of fixed races with horses being doped. There is indication that Patrick rebelled against holding his horse back and tried to show he was throwing the race. When Ed finds the body, the man's tongue was cut out and he thinks it is a sign that the person wanted to tell the authorities about the fix.
Ed interviews Patrick's widow, Miranda Hart. She reminds Ed of his former wife and he can't help himself from falling for her.
The story moves along and Hughes delves more into the underside of Dublin with Patrick and Leo being residents at a children's home where at least one of them may have been raped and the two boys may have been lovers. It is also revealed that Fr. Tyrrell had a room at the home. F.X. Tyrrell also had influence at the home and it may be for homosexual reasons that he hired Patrick as his jockey.
More bodies pile up including F.X. Tyrrell's former wife Jackie, who had been giving Ed some background about her former husband and fixing the races. Jackie's tongue is also cut out.
Hughes can tell a powerful, if dark story and the reader has to be willing to view this segment of society. This is a plot driven story that is a hard read with none of the characters are very likable.
Ed's friend Dave invites Ed to their home for Christmas Eve. Dave is under stress and not paying sufficient attention to his wife, Carmel. The reader may think that this is the one character with redeeming characteristics but Ed walks in on Carmel who has just been spending time with Dave's boss, Det. Geraghty, in the upstairs bedroom.
Reading this novel was like finding someones diary and seeing the hidden secrets of their life. It was a compelling story but with characters and a part of Ireland that are depressing.
Only recommended for the avid reader.

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