Wednesday 22 November 2017

The IRA, gangland and another long Good Friday

Myles McWeeney

Dublin, the IRA, organised crime and one of our best crime writers make for a potent mix.

Easter week turns out to be a busy one for private detective Ed Loy. On Spy Wednesday, he's watching football in Tolka Park keeping an eye on Paul Delaney, a talented footballer and younger brother of a friend of his, when a balaclava-wearing youth interrupts the match by spraying machine-gun fire.

Later, Loy makes enquiries in a tough part of town about what has happened and he gets beaten up for his trouble. Plus two young men are stabbed to death with a knife he has handled. What's more, Paul Delaney is slain in a gangland-style killing.

The next day, Loy gets a new client, a beautiful woman called Anne Fogarty. She wants him to take another look at the 1991 murder of her tax official father. Her mother's lover, a local Sandymount teacher, was convicted of the crime, but was released five years later, when a court held his conviction to be unsafe. Just before he was killed, his daughter tells Loy that her father wrote letters to three men he knew detailing their assets on which no tax had been paid. She is convinced one of them killed him.

Loy knows the men only too well -- one of them is a former IRA man, the other a notorious criminal whose brother he helped to send to jail and the third is an outwardly respectable developer with contacts in the corridors of power, but a suspected former Sinn Fein supporter.

By Good Friday, Ed Loy realises that by asking a few questions in the wrong places of the wrong people about his two cases, he's going to have to move quickly and think even faster if he is to stay alive. Trouble is coming from all directions and just about everyone would prefer him dead. As events spiral almost beyond control, the body count rises alarmingly but, by Easter Sunday, driven by his sense of duty and a visceral hatred of so-called freedom fighters, the battered private eye wins the day -- just.

This is the fourth Ed Loy mystery and Declan Hughes, a playwright and co-founder of the Rough Magic Theatre Company, continues to up the Irish noir ante with this assured and gory examination of the relationship between IRA splinter groups and crime in Dublin.

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