BOOK REVIEW: Elegy for April by Benjamin Black

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Elegy for April
by Benjamin Black

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

April Lavery has vanished. A junior doctor at a local hospital, she is something of a trail-blazer in the deeply conservative and highly patriarchal society of 1950s Dublin. Though her family is one of the most respected in the city, she is known for being independent-minded; her taste in men, for instance, is decidedly unconventional, as evidenced by her current boyfriend, a handsome and charismatic medical student from Nigeria.

Then April disappears, and Phoebe Griffin, her best friend, immediately suspects the worst. Frantic, Phoebe seeks out Quirke, her brilliant but erratic father, and asks him for help. Sober again after intensive treatment for alcoholism, Quirke soon learns that his old sparring partner, Detective Inspector Hackett, has been assigned to the high-profile case. This time, Hackett welcomes Quirke’s help—the pathologist’s knowledge of the darker byways of the city may allow him to uncover crucial information about April’s whereabouts. And as Quirke becomes deeply involved in April’s murky story, he encounters complicated and ugly truths about race-hatred, Catholic ruthlessness, and family savagery.

Both an absorbing crime novel and a brilliant portrait of the difficult and relentless love between a father and his daughter, this is Benjamin Black at his sparkling best.

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Book review: All The Dead Voices by Declan Hughes

Book review: All The Dead Voices by Declan Hughes

Many years ago, I was introduced to Ed Hoy in Declan Hughes’ debut novel “The Wrong Color of Blood”. Hoy immediately became one of my favorite male protagonists in the thriller genre. Hoy is a fallible man with a strong moral compass who has friends on both sides of the law. Although he may not agree with the actions or the mindset of the criminal syndicates that were spawned from The Troubles,…

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Book review: All The Dead Voices by Declan Hughes

Many years ago, I was introduced to Ed Hoy in Declan Hughes’ debut novel “The Wrong Color of Blood”. Hoy immediately became one of my favorite male protagonists in the thriller genre. Hoy is a fallible man with a strong moral compass who has friends on both sides of the law. Although he may not agree with the actions or the mindset of the criminal syndicates that were spawned from The Troubles, he has a deep understanding of the reasons for and against the IRA (Catholic paramilitary group that waged war against the ruling Protestant British establishment for religious and socio-economic reasons; renowned for being one of the forerunners of domestic terrorism). Hughes’ Ed Hoy novels are set in modern day Ireland and America and superbly capture a sense of both locations. The older you become, the more you understand how little life is black and white, and Hoy navigates life intent on living as honorably as possible in the grey.

In “All The Dead Voices”, Hoy, a private detective, is working two separate cases that are linked by strands of violence resulting from the days of and just after The Troubles. Hoy is tasked by a daughter, Anne, with looking into the long ago murder of her father, Brian Fogarty, a tax collector who was investigating three known criminals at the time of his death, and whose wife was having an affair with the man convicted of his murder. A conviction that was later overturned on appeal. A man whom the daughter, Anne, does not believe is guilty. In addition, Hoy is also looking into the murder Paul Delaney, a rising football star who may have been dealing heroin for one of the three men that Fogarty was investigating at the time of his death. The initial request of Paul’s two older half-brothers, Dessie and Liam, was for Hoy to check in with Paul and report back. Hoy has a history with Dessie Delaney – he saved his life by getting Dessie off drugs and getting him to go to Greece to live with Liam. Paul was murdered on Hoy’s watch or at least that’s how Hoy views it. Because of the deep entrenchment of drug culture and related turf wars, both of these crimes involve similar players.

A surprise resolution of the murder of the tax man, along with the most fitting end to the mystery of who orchestrated young Paul’s death, and the reasons why both deaths happened earn a 4 star recommendation.Hughes is not only an excellent writer, but he excels at weaving a suspenseful & intelligent story that pulls you in from the start and holds you there to resolution. The combination of historical facts and fictional storylines result in novels that are deeply enjoyable as well as informative. A surprise resolution of the murder of the tax man, along with the most fitting end to the mystery of who orchestrated young Paul’s death, and the reasons why both deaths happened earn a 4 star recommendation.

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