THE DYING BREED - Declan Hughes
THE DYING BREED is the third book in the Irish PI Ed Loy series from Declan Hughes, Ed being an Irishman who went home after living in the US for many years. A broken marriage and the tragic death of his young daughter are events that shaped him there, but his childhood in Ireland shaped him even more firmly, and a large number of the characters that he works with on a daily basis are connections from the past. But he's a PI (in a place where that's still a bit of a novelty) and he's ready for his next case (and pay cheque), so he takes on a very odd investigation in THE DYING BREED. Father Vincent Tyrrell wants him to find a missing man, although there's not a lot for Ed to go on. It takes him into the world of horse racing, and a rapid build up of dead bodies and family skeletons.
Ed Loy is the very epitome of the classic Private Investigator. A loner, a tough man, a man who always manages to pick the wrong woman, Ed's very reminiscent of so many of the well-known PI's of the genre, although with a very Irish twist. There's a constant tension between Ed and the Catholic Church - very much a love / hate relationship, complicated in earlier books by his difficult relationship with his very devout mother - and her confessor priest.
There's something not quite right about the early stages of THE DYING BREED, which made the first half of the book a struggle. It was hard to get involved, hard to be engaged; the story just seemed to float along with no connection to the society in which it was happening. The long-term characters held up their parts fairly well, but there were too many new entrants - part of the horse world - who were underdone. The action does ramp up later in the book, and things do get more interesting, but the resolution lands on the reader, told as opposed to revealed or shown, leaving the reader feeling rather short-changed.
If you haven't read any of the Ed Loy series, you'd be well served starting out with the first two books - they give you a lot of background to why Ed is where he is (which is just nice to know, not necessary). For this avowed fan of the first two books, THE DYING BREED simply wasn't as good as them.
Find a missing man with a single name? It's not much to go on, even for the best private eye. One name is all Ed Loy is given by the family of a prominent racehorse trainer FX Tyrrell, and he has no choice but to take the case.