Review

City of Lost Girls

by Declan Hughes

Dublin private investigator Ed Loy is good at his job. While his line of work might not make him wealthy, he has the satisfaction of knowing he is doing what he enjoys in an honorable way. That wasn’t always the case. Not when he worked for Irish film director Jack Donovan, “a carouser extraordinaire, professional Irishman, the life and soul of the all-night party…howling at the moon, raging once more against the dying of the light…”

Decades ago, Ed and Jack had been friends in Los Angeles, where Jack and his gang of four were making films. Ed had a small role in one of Jack’s movies, and he also tied up loose ends off camera for Jack. One day, after once again dispatched to gently dismiss another of Jack’s young lovers, Ed stopped being Jack’s friend and eventually returned to his Irish home.

Over the past 20 years, Ed has tried to distance himself from his past with Jack, but he realizes, “The past is always out there, a land mine buried and forgotten about, ready to blow the present apart at any moment.” So, when Jack contacts him with a desperate plea to find out who is behind the threatening letters he has received while filming in Dublin, Ed reluctantly takes the case. The source of the letters could be anyone --- including the gang of four --- even Jack himself.

In the famous Irish filmmaking gang of four, Jack gets top billing. The four men are a group of friends who started making no-budget movies almost 20 years earlier. Mark Cassidy is Jack’s director of photography. Producer Maurice Faye is Jack’s “diplomat, scammer, fixer extraordinaire.” Connor Rowan, Jack’s first AD, is charged with “waging total war for the good of the group.”

Shortly after the threatening letters arrive, lovely young women Jack has hired as extras vanish. Their disappearance reminds Ed of an alarmingly similar case that occurred two decades ago. Three beautiful extras working on one of Jack’s films in Los Angeles also vanished. To solve the case of the missing women in Ireland, Ed must travel to LA and dig into the past. But while he’s out of the country, he puts his loved ones at risk.

Award-winning writer Declan Hughes’s latest work is an intelligent mystery with a lot of heart, soul and class. Ed Loy is a clever, warm and determined private investigator troubled by his shaky past and trying to build a solid future. In addition to the intriguing story, engaging characters and haunting voice, the novel is rounded out with its lively Irish setting and persona, complete with Irish-Catholic guilt, fierce political rants, sexual repression and abuse, and singing and drinking in pubs.

Lovers of literary mysteries, readers fascinated by the Irish people and their culture, or anyone with a curiosity about the film industry should enjoy CITY OF LOST GIRLS.

Reviewed by Donna Volkenannt (dvolkenannt@charter.net) on December 27, 2010

City of Lost Girls
by Declan Hughes

  • Publication Date: April 1, 2010
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow
  • ISBN-10: 0061689904
  • ISBN-13: 9780061689901