Ayo Onatade is an avid reader of crime and mystery fiction. She has been writing reviews, interviews and articles on the subject for the last 12 years; with an eclectic taste from historical to hardboiled, short stories and noir films
Slaughter’s Hound sees the welcome return of Harry Rigby whose acquaintance readers first made in Declan Burke’s excellent debut novel Eightball Boogie back in 2003.
Having spent time in a mental institution for killing his brother Gonzo, Rigby is now back at home driving a cab whilst also doubling as an occasional drug courier. He soon finds himself entangled with republican criminals, dishonest solicitors and an exceedingly dysfunctional family who use their wealth as a smokescreen. His problems start when he sees his old friend Finn a member of the said family plunge off the top of a building. So what happened was he pushed or did he jump and why do the police want to pin the death on him? Determined to find out what really happened Rigby begins his own investigation.
The story is narrated from Harry’s point of view and from the start do not mistake him for someone who is culturally aware despite the fact that he effortlessly talks about Marx, Engles and William Gaddis. Harry Rigby is a thug who will easily and without remorse, deal in a brutal manner with any of the lowlife’s that cross his pass or get in his way. Teenager Grainne says it all when she calls him a “horrible human being”. This is because he is without a shadow of doubt a thug, but it is because of this behaviour he is still alive.
Slaughter’s Hound will have you turning pages over rapidly in an effort not only to soak up the intenseness but also to finish the story. Putting Rigby’s atrocious behaviour aside, Slaughters Hound is a wild read that will at times have you shaking your head with astonishment. Harrowing but also with a snappy dialogue the belies the powerful and intense incidents that take place, you will at times be lost for words.
Slaughter’s Hound is not only strong on plot but also on character and these elements are what make it stand out so much. His sense of place is also first-rate and Declan Burke has portrayed a modern Ireland as very bleak with a harshness that would be heart rendering if it were not depicted in such a capricious manner. With the black comedic asides, it has everything that one has come to expect from the brilliant mind of Declan Burke. His writing is such that it is tight, witty, sharp as a nail and stunning with a decadence that makes you think of a pint of Guinness. In essence, Slaughter’s Hound is just an absolute pleasure to read but not for the faint-hearted. One hopes that we have not seen the last of Harry Rigby because I would like to see a lot more of him. As someone who loves noir this is right up my street.