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The Colour of Blood

Shane Howard, a respected dentist from Dublin's legendary Howard medical family, asks Loy to search for his missing daughter. The only clue to her disappearance is a set of pictures portraying nineteen year old Emily in a series of very compromising positions, and a ransom demand. Seems like a straightforward case to Loy, however sordid... until people start dying. The same day Loy takes the case, Emily's mother and ex-boyfriend are brutally stabbed to death—and Loy discovers the boyfriend's body mere minutes before the Guards.

Keeping one step ahead of the law, Loy tracks the pornographic pictures of Emily to a house run by organized criminal Brock Taylor. When he finds Emily, she is with her cousin Jonathan, with whom she is involved in a casual sexual relationship. Jonathan is linked to the pictures, which in turn link to a pair of Ukrainian sisters trafficked by Brock Taylor's gang.

The Color of Blood

Meanwhile, the disturbing behaviour of the younger Howard family members is a harbinger of further revelations to come. Loy becomes sexually involved with his mother, Sandra... but soon begins to suspect that she doing her best, whether through deception or denial, to keep buried the secrets Emily has begun to uncover: what was the precise nature of the relationship between pillar of society Dr. John Howard and his daughters and son? Was there another daughter... Emily's aunt? And if so, what became of her? Just as Jonathan has become a furious and violent defender of the family's legacy, Emily forges ahead in pursuit of the truth.

Loy, assisted by his wayward lieutenant Tommy Owens, must withstand capture and torture by Brock Taylor and his brutal thugs, who have been exploiting the Howards for years, clearing the path, as the Howard family mansion blazes, for Emily to bring the truth to light:

As she brought her hand up and threw away the pinafore and held the tiny bones of Marian Howard's baby in her outstretched hands, her rings skimmed the water and the dawn flushed deep red as the sky all over Dublin turned The Colour of Blood.

First chapter

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"Irish playwright Hughes follows up his successful contemporary crime debut, The Wrong Kind of Blood (2006), with another gripping and gritty whodunit set in his native Dublin. PI Ed Loy, who's still adjusting to his return to Dublin after two decades in Los Angeles, gets hired by affluent dentist Shane Howard, the son of a legendary local doctor, to locate Shane's errant teenage daughter, Emily. Loy quickly tracks down Emily, but the sordid intimate relationship she's enjoying with a cousin proves only to be the tip of the iceberg for the Howard family's dysfunction. After several murders, including that of Emily's boyfriend, Loy finds that the roots of the violence may be in the distant past. The sharp writing and strong local color distinguish this novel from the common run of thrillers."
   —Publishers Weekly

"rish playwright-turned-novelist Hughes, who burst onto the Irish noir scene with The Wrong Kind of Blood (2006), returns with another seedy thriller. Private eye Ed Loy, lately returned to Dublin after 20 years in Los Angeles, is hired by a rather obnoxious dentist to find out what happened to his teenage daughter (pornographic pictures of whom were recently sent to the father). Ed has little trouble locating the missing girl, but matters are complicated when the girl's ex-boyfriend—and porn filmmaker—turns up dead. The list of suspects is lengthy, from the girl's parents (although neither of them seems to care too much what happens to her now), to her new friends, to people with whom the murdered man had unsavory business dealings. As with his debut novel, Hughes makes the mean streets of Dublin come alive, making us smell the fetid air and walk the trouble-laden sidewalks...this one positively steamrolls through from beginning to end."
   —Booklist (Starred Review)

"Declan Hughes's private detective Ed Loy once again treads in the footsteps of his famous predecessors in The Colour of Blood. The mean streets he walks are in Dublin, but his investigation could have come from the casebook of Marlowe or Archer—kidnapping, extortion and murder involving a distinguished, wealthy and wildly dysfunctional family... action packed... a dramatic finale. The story goes at a fast pace, with a cast of vividly-drawn characters, and, above all, a great sense of place."
   —Sunday Telegraph

"Hughes racks up a body count to rival that in the last scene of Hamlet in order to expose the hypocrisies of a certain privileged class of Dublin society, but the overheated theatrics are a proper fit for tough-guy hero Loy, whose stern moral code and haunted personal history lend credibility to Hughes's recurring theme of 'the sins of the fathers' and the 'legacy of tainted blood' they pass on to their children."
   —New York Times Book Review

"Hughes is a gifted and poetic writer... who can construct sentences of subtle beauty that drive the narrative... a talent of full display in his chilling The Colour of Blood... it's a complex and involving mystery Hughes weaves, more James Lee Burke than Ian Rankin, where a sense of place and the unforgiving landscape of memory are the contested territory."
   —Las Vegas City Life

"The action moves on impressively from chapter to chapter... and the characters themselves defy convention by being multi-layered and difficult to pigeonhole... filled with surprises, the ending, when it comes, is both unexpected and contains an element of Victorian gothic that is very satisfying. It should certainly appeal to fans of the genre and leave them looking forward to the next."
   —The Irish Times

"Hughes has a gift for narrative and a real gift for dialogue, too. This sinister and graphic thriller will draw you in from the first page... Hughes brings the city of Dublin to life in all its gritty glory. A picaresque voyage through Dublin's mean streets, it will startle and amaze you right up to its shocking conclusion."
   —Irish Voice

"Hughes writes well and he has created a memorable character."
   —Sunday Times

"Hughes is the James Lee Burke of Ireland, melding literary writing with intricate plots to create a world that broods as only the Irish can do, without becoming maudlin. As good as he is, look forward to him getting better."
   —New Mystery Reader

"If you like your detective fiction written with smarts, this is the book for you."
   —Sunday Tribune

"A gritty, riveting tale... redolent with moody atmosphere, vivid characters, and a fine dramatist's keen sense of pacing... The Colour of Blood is compelling and entertaining and well worth the reading."
   —Boston Irish Reporter

"Readers who enjoy their mysteries gritty, bitter and decidedly dark will undoubtedly enjoy this literary pint of extra stout noir."
   —Chicago Tribune

"A classic hard-boiled detective story, adding an Irish twist to the archetypal Chandler/Macdonald style."
   —Seattle Times


The Wrong Kind of Blood (2006)
The Colour of Blood (2007)
The Dying Breed (US: The Price of Blood) (2008)
All the Dead Voices (2009)
City of Lost Girls (2010)
All the Things You Are (2014)