Another fine opening from Declan Hughes
His third, The Price of Blood (The Dying Breed in the U.K.) does not get to the heart of things quite so quickly. One has to wait until the end of the paragraph for the comic payoff:
"Two weeks before Christmas, Father Vincent Tyrell asked Tommy Owens to fill in for George Costello, who has been the sacristan at the Church of the Immaculate Conception in Bayview for thirty years until he was rushed to the hospital with inoperable stomach cancer. A lot of Father Tyrrell's parishioners were outraged, to put it mildly, since Tommy was known as a dopehead and a malingerer and a small-time drug dealer, one of the die-hard crew who still drank in Hennessy's bar, and not a retired Holy Joe shuffling about the church in desert boots and an acrylic zip-up cardigan like George Costello, God have mercy on him. And fair enough, the first time I saw Tommy on the altar in cassock and surplice, it was a bit like something out of a Buñuel film."That's not a bad way to begin a story, I'd say. In fact, it's a little story in itself, complete with buildup and payoff. So far, I can report that the story also involves tangled family secrets, that blood in several senses figures prominently in Hughes' books, and that this book contains at least one dubious priest. Did I mention that Hughes is Irish?
The novel also explores the world of Irish horse racing in some detail. Between Hughes and Peter Temple in his Jack Irish novels, crime writers are proving that there is territory left to be explored in that old sport.
More to come.
© Peter Rozovsky 2008
Irish crime fiction