A transplanted Irishman goes home to find that Thomas Wolfe pretty much had it right.
Ed Loy had been doing okay as an L.A. shamus until a shattering personal tragedy put paid to his career, converting him into a lost, embittered husk who spent too much time seeking answers in a bottle. But now he’s suddenly back in Ireland, a stranger in a land that’s become strange, attending his mother’s funeral and trying with limited success to pick his way through a thicket of ferocious hatreds ancient and modern. At the outset, his involvement is deceptively low-key. His professional services are requested by an old friend whose husband has gone missing. Loy, eager to dust off his neglected detecting skills, is easily persuaded to sign on. The old friend’s kisses are persuasive, too, while causing Loy to wonder in less tempestuous moments just how deeply she regrets her husband’s absence. Whatever the actual measure, a murder makes it academic—a murder that presages more to come and involves Loy in an investigation unsettlingly close to home. Warned off by thugs and Garda alike, knocked about at every turn, Loy persists, and in the time-honored Yank/shamus tradition takes his lumps and cracks his case.
An overload of backstory burdens long stretches of dialogue in an otherwise promising debut.