Sunday, July 25, 2010

Declan Hughes in the news

My review of Declan Hughes' fifth Ed Loy novel, City of Lost Girls, appears in today's Philadelphia Inquirer.

Here's part of what I had to say about this bracing Dublin/Los Angeles P.I. story:
"In his fifth novel featuring Dublin private investigator Ed Loy, Declan Hughes:

  • "Sets major parts of the story in Los Angeles, complete with breathtaking and melancholy scenery.
  • "Gets inside a serial killer's head.
  • "Sends great torrents of yearningly romantic prose tumbling onto the page.
  • "Offers up any number of wisecracks and world-weary observations.
"Crime writers have done all that for years, so how does Hughes keep it fresh?

"By the sheer exuberance of his prose, including some gleeful stomping on Bono's reputation.

"By the angry topicality of his observations ... And mostly by the high respect he has for mystery."
Read my Inquirer review of Hughes' The Price of Blood and a whole lot about Hughes, including the fourth Loy novel, All the Dead Voices, right here at Detectives Beyond Borders.

© Peter Rozovsky 2010

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24 Comments:

Blogger seana said...

Good piece there, Peter. And a nice nod to the talented Irish crime writing scene thrown in to boot. Alan Glynn is excellent in this vein as well.

I just happen to be in the middle of the third Declan Hughes myself. It will be awhile before I have time to get to the fourth and fifth Ed Loys but I am definitely looking forward to them.

July 25, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Thanks. I think I have Winterland lying around the house. Since the newspaper unreasonably refuses to give me all the space I want, I try to work in a boost for related crime writers when appropriate. I mentioned a number of South African authors when I wrote about Roger Smith's Wake Up Dead, for example.

July 25, 2010  
Blogger solea said...

You had me at "melancholy scenery" until "Gets inside a serial killer's head." I'm so tired of serial killers (and being inside their heads).

July 25, 2010  
Blogger Susan said...

I just picked up the first one in this series, The Wrong Kind of Blood, from the library, to try reading! So I read your review with great curiosity. I think I'm going to like this series. I am just discovering the new generation of Irish mystery writers, also bringing home from the library Borderlands by Brian McGilloway. I'm very curious to see what they bring to the mystery genre.

I like your review in the Inquirer too. Congrats!

July 25, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Solea, I'm no fan of serial killers or what's inside their skulls either, especially ones who organize their killings according to some weird pattern, and the serial-killer bits were not my favorite parts of this book.

But they're not the biggest part of it nor the area of Hughes' greatest interest. And, since Hughes likes to take crime-fiction tropes over the top (as in the long P.I.-meets-client scene in All the Dead Voices), I'll grant him this one as a kind of lark on his part. If that is the only thing stopping you from reading the novel, don't let it.

July 25, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Thanks, Susan. Hughes' first and third novels are good, his fourth and fifth better than that (I haven't read the second.)

Borderlands opens with a body found on the border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic, and if that doesn't grab your attention, nothing will. McGilloway has some interesting things to say about his work, if you'd care to take a look.

July 25, 2010  
Blogger Old Bry said...

Thanks for the excellent review. I'll start with the first Hughes novel today.

I'm also very grateful for being turned onto the Detectives Beyond Borders site, as I really enjoy foreign crime novels. I've been into Nordic stuff for a long time, since I saw the movie 'Man on the Roof' and devoured the entire Martin Beck series (which is, mercifully, back in print).

You seemed to be a bit dismissive of the Nordics in your review, but I love their connection with social issues and the relative sparseness of series like Beck and the Indridason and Fossum novels.

Looking forward to keeping up through your blog. Thanks again.

July 26, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Thanks for the kind words. I hope you enjoy Hughes and this site.

I'm not dismissive of Nordic crime writing, but I am of the Nordic crime-writing phenomenon -- rather of the ramshackle critical and marketing attempts to piggyback such a phenomenon on Stieg Larsson's commercial success. Critics and marketers strain for explanations for the phenomenon without reaching the obvious conclusion that Nordic crime fiction is of high quality because of good Nordic crime writers. I have long regarded Arnaldur Indridason as one of the world's best crime writers and enjoyed Hakan Nesser's deadpan wit and observation. The first Sjowall/Wahloo novel was one of the highlights of my crime-reading life, as was Karin Fossum's "He Who Fears the Wolf."

(If you like Nordic crime writing, let me put in plugs for my interviews with Nesser and with Jo Nesbo. You might like this as well.)

July 26, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

This, too, perhaps.

July 26, 2010  
Blogger Photographe à Dublin said...

I really like your reference to "writing chops".
It sounds suitably vehement.

I have spent much energy wondering why the Irish writers are so taken with Noir, to the point that there is a new genre...
"Emerald Noir".

It seems to offer a social corrective in a time that is increasingly violent.

The nice thing about a blog is that one can keep going forever and editoral questions of space are not an issue.

Alan Glynn has repaid attention and he is very worth reading.
Dublin comes to life very beautifully and there is even a reference to Joyce, which I'll not spoil by mentioning it here.

It would be lovely if your newspaper found space for a review of "Winterland".

July 29, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

There are all kinds of noir these days: Celtic noir, tartan noir ... I'm not sure I was being vehement so much as I was recognizing the zest with which Hughes took up the challenge of writing a yearningly romantic PI novel without going over the top.

One school of thought is that the murder of Veronica Guerin and the advent and then the end of the Celtic Tiger sparked the boom in Irish crime writing. For Northern Ireland, the Troubles and their afterlife are fertile ground for crime writers.

Yep, one can keep a blog thread going forever in infinite directions. Hmm, Alan Glynn. That's two recent recommendations. Maybe I'll read him next.

July 29, 2010  
Anonymous kathy d. said...

All should read Rob Kitchins' "The White Gallows," a very good police procedural--interesting protagonist and plot. It takes place in Ireland is a a page-turner.

I completely agree on Indridason's writing quality, on Sjowall and Wahloo and on other Scandinavian writers, like Nesser.

And I also can't stand the "Who's the next Stieg Larsson," being promoted by publishers, booksellers, advertisers, book reviewers.

My answer is: No one is the next Stieg Larsson. A writer may be a phenomenon of his/her own but none of the Nordic writers I've read write like Larsson or like each other, for that matter. And some are better writers than others. (I won't name names here.)

August 08, 2010  
Anonymous kathy d. said...

Sorry, meant to include Johan Theorin, who just won the Dagger for "The Darkest Room." He is seen as an excellent writer.

Although I haven't yet read this book, it's on my soon TBR list.

August 08, 2010  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

Peter, I'm just a hundred pages into my first Ross Macdonald (and Lew Archer), 'Sleeping Beauty'
(which is also, coincidentally, quite topical with its background of an offshore oil spill).
Even on the evidence of only 100 pages, I'd be certain that he was a strong influence on Declan Hughes
(and that Raymond Chandler was a strong influence on him).

But its interesting that a possible sub-plot, which might be connected to the main mystery, is of an unsolved murder/killing of some 25 years previously,.........
does that remind you of anything?

I'm also convinced that that great 70's film, 'Night Moves', has a decided Ross Macdonald influence
perhaps 'Chinatown', also, as I think your correspondent Elizabeth might have suggested

August 08, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I'd be certain that he was a strong influence on Declan Hughes (and that Raymond Chandler was a strong influence on him).

I suspect that statement will meet with little disagreement. I have read that Macdonald's middle-period novels were, in fact, efforts to break away from explicit Chandler homages in the earlier ones.

a possible sub-plot, which might be connected to the main mystery, is of an unsolved murder/killing of some 25 years previously,.........
does that remind you of anything?


A lot of things, actually. It's a flipping archetype.

I'm also convinced that that great 70's film, 'Night Moves', has a decided Ross Macdonald influence

I wish I could remember all these movies when I happen to be near a store where I can rent them.

August 09, 2010  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

A lot of things, actually. It's a flipping archetype.
I'm thinking, specifically, of the first Declan Hughes novel
(and didn't his latest also have long-unsolved crimes suddenly becoming relevant to a current crime?
And based in the general Santa Monica area?)

I think I picked up the 'Night Moves' DVD for cheap; you can certainly get great bargains in DVDs these days, not least because of the growth in popularity of Blu-Ray

August 09, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

You're right about the most recent Declan Hughes novel. Crimes from long ago become relevant in the present day, and based in the general Los Angles area (I don't remember if it was Santa Monica.)

I'm sill not used to the idea of "owning" movies.

August 09, 2010  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

You might not remember all of the details of the first DH novel, but a skeleton was uncovered buried in foundations of demolished building by workers on a major new construction project which was linked to Ed Loy's past and most of the major characters in novel
(the murder may have occurred some 20-25 years earlier).

I suppose 'owning' movies is just like owning books, records, etc.
But 'Night Moves' is highly recommended.
One of the great PI novels

August 09, 2010  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

"One of the great PI novels"
I meant 'films' of course!

August 09, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

You might not remember all of the details of the first DH novel, but a skeleton was uncovered buried in foundations of demolished building by workers on a major new construction project which was linked to Ed Loy's past and most of the major characters in novel
(the murder may have occurred some 20-25 years earlier).


That also would serve as a good capsule description of Arnaldur Indriðason's Silence of the Grave.

I suppose 'owning' movies is just like owning books, records, etc.

Yes, it is. I can't get used to it, though. I don't know why. Maybe because VCRs and DVDs have robbed moviegoing of so much of its communal aspect that I want to preserve what pathetic scrap remains.

Owning a book is worthwhile because you can carry it and read it anywhere. I have yet to see someone watching a movie while being jostled on a crowded commuter train.

August 09, 2010  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

Two other similarities I forgot to mention last night: 'Black Beauty' also has seafront protesters, - about the offshore oil-spill, - although its conservationists in the case of the DH book.
Also, there was a dead body turned up on the shorefront, early on, in each.

Do you think this one could be DH's favourite Ross MacDonald novel??

'unpingst' is my 'wv', this time: sounds like a useful onomatopoeic word!
(can you suggest a usage?)

August 09, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

"What is the opposite of `pingst'?"

I don't know if Hughes would have a favorite Ross Macdonald novel; I am almost entirely Macdonald-illiterate. If you remind me as Bouchercon draws nearer (Oct. 14-17), I could try to remember to ask him.

August 09, 2010  
Blogger The Celtic Kagemusha said...

isn't 'ping' the sound a 'silenced' bullet makes hitting wood?.
So perhaps 'unpingst' could be the result of the wood being treated, or 'soundproofed' so that you couldn't even hear the 'ping'.

But try and time your checking out 'Night Moves' with reading your first MacDonald/Lew Archer.
Far more than 'Chinatown', I think it has the whole sense of MacDonald's world, even if most of it is set in South Florida

August 09, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I dunno; lemme grab my gat and shoot up a counter.

"Pingst" would have meaning in Dutch, as the superlative of "ping": Ping, pinger, pingst.

August 09, 2010  

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