Ed Loy hasn't been back to Dublin for 20 years. Now his mother is dead and he has returned home to bury her. He soon realises that the world waiting for him is very different from the one he left behind all those years ago. An old classmate, Linda Dawson, pleads with him to find her missing husband, Peter. She doesn't want the police involved.
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Private Investigator Ed Loy is working on what looks like an open and shut case: the disappearance of dentist Shane Howard's daughter, Emily. Little does Loy realise that this seemingly simple case will involve delving into the world of blackmail, organised crime, and the very murky secrets of the Howard family.
Even the best private eye needs more than a name to find a missing person, but that's all that Father Vincent Tyrrell, the brother of prominent racehorse trainer F. X. Tyrrell, will offer Loy when he comes to him for help. A dwindling bank account convinces Loy to delve into the deadly underworld of horse racing, but fortune soon smiles on him: while working another case, he discovers a phone number linked to F. X. on a badly beaten body left at an illegal dump.
Ed Loy has made some changes. He has moved into a flat in Dublin’s city centre, leaving the family home behind. Maybe now he can break free from the ghosts of his past – the drinking, the dirty deals, the sleazy underworld. But when a 15-year-old murder case is reopened, Loy is hired by the victim’s daughter to investigate the suspects ignored by the first investigation: a rich property developer, an ex-IRA man and Loy’s least favourite sociopath, George Halligan.
In LA there’s a killer on the loose. He kills young and rootless girls and he always kills in threes. Back in Dublin, Ed Loy is reunited with Jack Donovan, a film director friend from LA. When the victims of the “Three-in-One Killer” are discovered in LA at locations Jack used for his movies, Loy begins to suspect Jack. He flies to LA, hoping that whatever he finds will point away from his old friend. And then, when he finally unearths the truth, it looks like it may be too late. In Dublin, the killer has broken his pattern.