Grant me a moment here, but Ed Loy is well and truly back and I'm more than a little bit happy about that! ALL THE DEAD VOICES is a really tense, investigative novel with a just a touch of the thriller about it. The action is swift, the tension carefully ramped up and the plot nicely complicated. The details are carefully laid out, allowing the reader to keep up, sort it out, decide for themselves, pick up the clues along the way. Provided you're concentrating.
In 1980 two IRA men are hiding beside a roadway, ready to detonate the bomb destined to kill a hated judge. Just as well this is a carefully planned operation, as the two killers do not get on - much to the amusement of their colleagues.
Current day and Ed is moving on, by moving house, clearing his head, getting his edge back. He's doing a little low key watching of an up and coming footballer - Paul Delany. His half-brother Dessie's a bit suspicious that Paul might be dealing heroin on the side, and living in Greece there's not much he can do about it himself. A threatening moment at a football match and Paul's reaction reassures Loy something's going on; the couple of young hoods that have a go at him in an alley late at night reinforce that. But Loy had just left them a bit bruised and battered - their turning up dead is definitely not down to him, even if the police aren't so convinced.
Meanwhile, Loy is approached by Anne Fogarty, who thinks that the police have got the wrong man for the killing of her father, fifteen years ago. Anne's father had been a revenue inspector, involved in the investigation of some very dodgy people: Jack Cullen, ex-IRA now gang leader; Bobby Doyle, ex-IRA now property developer, and George Halligan - Loy's least favourite sociopath. Oh, and because it never rains but it pours, something is brewing in the Cullen camp and Comerford is convinced that somebody is leaking information about drug smuggling to the police, and he wants Ed to find out who.
One of the things that I really like about the Ed Loy books is that the plots are crowded, complicated and not always made up of obviously intersecting threads. ALL THE DEAD VOICES has that lightening pace, as well as the swirling list of links, possible links, gangs, impending violence, past violence and secrets. It's that wheedling out of secrets that Ed Loy does best of all, well that along with juggling all the goings on, surviving the occasional beating up and reluctant, but efficient, dishing out of the occasional thumping. Ed's style of investigating is very much the "prod something a bit and wait for the ripples to spread" methodology, but it's effective, partly because he's not too afraid to prod where others may not dare, and he's well aware of the circles in which he is moving.
After being slightly less enthusiastic about the last Ed Loy outing, ALL THE DEAD VOICES is not only a return to the standard of the first books in the series, it has a touch of the moving on about it. Loy's not standing still, and neither should readers - regardless of whether you're already a fan, or this will be a new encounter for you.
The earlier books in the series are:
The Wrong Kind of Blood
The Colour of Blood
The Dying Breed