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About Ken Bruen
KEN BRUEN was born in Galway, Ireland in 1951. The award-winning author of sixteen novels, he is the editor of Dublin Noir, and spent twenty-five years as an English teacher in Africa, Japan, Southeast Asia and South America. He now lives in Galway City.
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In this short work, Edgar Award finalist Ken Bruen—“a Celtic Dashiell Hammett”—takes us deeper into his character Jack Taylor, formerly of Ireland’s police force, the Garda Síochána, now a living-on-the-edge private detective (The Philadelphia Inquirer).
“Jack, as ja series know all too well, has a gift for blarney, for plain speaking, for poetic melancholy, for downing shots of Jameson’s [sic] without ice, and for pregnant one-word paragraphs.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Bruen’s storytelling style, a stream-of-consciousness mix of prose and verse, strips away Galway’s tourist-board facade and offers a darkly comic social commentary.” —Booklist
“The Godfather of the modern Irish crime novel.” —The Irish Times
“[Taylor’s] voice is wry and bittersweet, but somehow always hopeful.” —The Seattle Times
An Irishman with an ebullient love of life draws inspiration from the literature and poetry of death. A born loser with an “ex-wife, an ex-child, and no excuses” accompanies his alcoholic brother on a startling plunge into liberating despair. A self-styled vigilante avenges the death of his wife and child by waging a one-man war against the London underworld. A whiskey-sotted cleric sets out to battle his sexual demons with a resolve that borders on the malevolent.
“Nobody writes like Ken Bruen,” says the New York Times Book Review, and here, the author of The Emerald Lie and The Guards offers a taste of his wide-ranging skills. With his acrid barstool wit, literary allusions, and gut-punching twists, Bruen captures the Irish state of mind with bracing authenticity. Now, enthusiasts of his long-running series featuring Irish PI Jack Taylor—seven of which have been adapted for the screen—and new fans alike can discover Bruen’s early works in an omnibus shaded with the crazy, violent, and melancholy poetry that has become his trademark.
Hailed by the Los Angeles Book Review as one of “the most original and innovative noir voices of the last two decades,” Bruen is a two-time Shamus Award winner, an Edgar Award finalist, and a recipient of the Grand Prix de Littérature Policière.
A Fifth of Bruen includes: Funeral: Tales of Irish Morbidities, Martyrs, Shades of Grace, Sherry and Other Stories, All the Old Songs and Nothing to Lose, and The Time of Serena May &Upon the Third Cross.
Still stinging from his unceremonious ouster from the Garda Síochána—the Guards, Ireland's police force—and staring at the world through the smoky bottom of his beer mug, Jack Taylor is stuck in Galway with nothing to look forward to. In his sober moments Jack aspires to become Ireland's best private investigator, not to mention its first—Irish history, full of betrayal and espionage, discourages any profession so closely related to informing. But in truth Jack is teetering on the brink of his life's sharpest edges, his memories of the past cutting deep into his soul and his prospects for the future nonexistent.
Nonexistent, that is, until a dazzling woman walks into the bar with a strange request and a rumor about Jack's talent for finding things. Odds are he won't be able to climb off his barstool long enough to get involved with his radiant new client, but when he surprises himself by getting hired, Jack has little idea of what he's getting into.
Stark, violent, sharp, and funny, The Guards is an exceptional novel, one that leaves you stunned and breathless, flipping back to the beginning in a mad dash to find Jack Taylor and enter his world all over again. It's an unforgettable story that's gritty, absorbing, and saturated with the rough-edged rhythms of the Galway streets. Praised by authors and critics around the globe, The Guards heralds the arrival of an essential new novelist in contemporary crime fiction.
Ken Bruen's The Guards is a 2004 Edgar Award Nominee for Best Novel.
After much tragedy and violence, Jack Taylor has at long last landed at contentment. Of course, he still knocks back too much Jameson and dabbles in uppers, but he has a new woman in his life, a freshly bought apartment, and little sign of trouble on the horizon—until a wealthy Frenchman comes to him with a request to investigate the double murder of his twin sons.
Jack is meanwhile roped into looking after his girlfriend’s nine-year-old, and is in for a shock with the appearance of a character out of his past. The plot is one big chess game and all of the pieces seem to be moving at the behest of one dangerously mysterious player: a vigilante called “Silence,” because he’s the last thing his victims will ever hear.
This new novel filled with suspense and pitch-dark humor comes from a Shamus Award-winning author who’s been called “hard to resist, with his aching Irish heart, silvery tongue, and bleak noir sensibility” (TheNew York Times Book Review).
“The Godfather of the modern Irish crime novel.”—Irish Independent
Jack Taylor is walking the delicate edge of a sobriety he doesn't trust when his phone rings. He's in debt to a Galway tough named Bill Cassell, what the locals call a "hard man." Bill did Jack a big favor a while back; the trouble is, he never lets a favor go unreturned.
Jack is amazed when Cassell simply asks him to track down a woman, now either dead or very old, who long ago helped his mother escape from the notorious Magdalen laundry, where young wayward girls were imprisoned and abused. Jack doesn't like the odds of finding the woman, but counts himself lucky that the task is at least on the right side of the law.
Until he spends a few days spinning his wheels and is dragged in front of Cassell for a quick reminder of his priorities. Bill's goons do a little spinning of their own, playing a game of Russian roulette a little too close to the back of Jack's head. It's only blind luck and the mercy of a god he no longer trusts that land Jack back on the street rather than face down in a cellar with a bullet in his skull. He's got one chance to stay alive: find this woman.
Unfortunately, he can't escape his own curiosity, and an unnerving hunch quickly turns into a solid fact: just who Jack's looking for, and why, aren't nearly what they seem.
The Magdalen Martyrs, the third Galway-set novel by Edgar, Barry, and Macavity finalist and Shamus Award-winner Ken Bruen, is a gripping, dazzling story that takes the Jack Taylor series to explosive new heights of suspense.
Jack Taylor is recovering from a mistaken medical diagnosis and a failed suicide attempt. Now that he’s going to live after all, he’s going to need money, so using his ex-Garda credentials he manages to land a job as a night-shift security guard.
But his Ukrainian boss has Jack in mind for a bit of off-the-books work. He wants Jack to find what some claim to be the first true book of heresy, the famously blasphemous “Red Book,” currently in the possession of a rogue priest hiding out in Galway after fleeing a position at the Vatican. Despite Jack’s distaste for priests of any stripe, the money is too good to turn down. Then Em, the many-faced woman who’s had a vise on Jack’s heart and mind for the past two years, reappears and turns out to be entangled with the story of the Red Book, too—leading Jack down ever more mysterious and lethal pathways—in this “dark and often hilarious” series by an author who’s won the Shamus, Macavity, and Barry Awards and been an Edgar Award finalist (Toronto Star).
“Bruen is in top form, and, although everything Taylor touches seems to turn to ash, he embodies such humanity that readers will be unable to resist rooting for him.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“The most mannered prose since the glory days of James Ellroy.” —Kirkus Reviews
Kate Mitchell’s in the process of kicking her heroin addiction—with the help of alcohol—when a letter arrives informing her that her aunt in Ireland has passed away and bequeathed her a home near the ocean. This could be the start of a new and better life for Kate, far away from Brooklyn, where she and her surviving brothers are each struggling with their own dark pasts.
But Aunt Mary didn’t die peacefully—quite the opposite. The pair of thugs responsible for her murder had plans for her house: namely, turning it into a lovely seaside meth lab. One of Mary’s killers, however, finds his focus shifting when he spots a photo of the dead woman’s American niece, who bears a striking resemblance to the late opera singer Maria Callas, the beloved object of his obsession. When Kate and her brothers arrive to claim her inheritance, they’re going to find something other than a piece of paradise . . .
“Nobody writes like Ken Bruen, with his ear for lilting Irish prose and his taste for the kind of gallows humor heard only at the foot of the gallows.” —The New York Times
“Bruen has a rich and mordant writing style, full of offbeat humor.” —Publishers Weekly
In Green Hell, Bruen’s dark angel of a protagonist has hit rock bottom: one of his best friends is dead, the other has stopped speaking to him; he has given up battling his addiction to alcohol and pills; and his firing from the Irish national police, the Guards, is ancient history. But Jack isn’t about to embark on a self-improvement plan. Instead, he has taken up a vigilante case against a respected professor of literature at the University of Galway who has a violent habit his friends in high places are only too happy to ignore. And when Jack rescues a preppy American student on a Rhodes Scholarship from a couple of kid thugs, he also unexpectedly gains a new sidekick, who abandons his thesis on Beckett to write a biography of Galway’s most magnetic rogue.
Between pub crawls and violent outbursts, Jack’s vengeful plot against the professor soon spirals toward chaos. Enter Emerald, an edgy young Goth who could either be the answer to Jack’s problems, or the last ripped stitch in his undoing . . .
“Taylor is a classic figure: an ex-cop turned seedy private eye . . . The book’s pleasure comes from listening to Taylor’s eloquent rants, studded with references to songs and books. His voice is wry and bittersweet, but somehow always hopeful.” —The Seattle Times
Ireland, awash with cash and greed, no longer turns to the Church for solace or comfort. But the decapitation of Father Joyce in a Galway confessional horrifies even the most jaded citizen.
Jack Taylor, devastated by the recent trauma of personal loss, has always believed himself to be beyond salvation. But a new job offers a fresh start, and an unexpected partnership provides hope that his one desperate vision--of family--might yet be fulfilled.
An eerie mix of exorcism, a predatory stalker, and unlikely attraction conspires to lure him into a murderous web of dark conspiracies. The specter of a child haunts every waking moment.
Explosive, unsettling and totally original, Ken Bruen's writing captures the brooding landscape of Irish society at a time of social and economic upheaval. Priest is evidence of an unmistakable literary talent.
When Jack Taylor blew town at the end of The Guards his alcoholism was a distant memory and sober dreams of a new life in London were shining in his eyes. In the opening pages of The Killing of the Tinkers, Jack's back in Galway a year later with a new leather jacket on his back, a pack of smokes in his pocket, a few grams of coke in his waistband, and a pint of Guinness on his mind. So much for new beginnings.
Before long he's sunk into his old patterns, lifting his head from the bar only every few days, appraising his surroundings for mere minutes and then descending deep into the alcoholic, drug-induced fugue he prefers to the real world. But a big gypsy walks into the bar one day during a moment of Jack's clarity and changes all that with a simple request. Jack knows the look in this man's eyes, a look of hopelessness mixed with resolve topped off with a quietly simmering rage; he's seen it in the mirror. Recognizing a kindred soul, Jack agrees to help him, knowing but not admitting that getting involved is going to lead to more bad than good. But in Jack Taylor's world bad and good are part and parcel of the same lost cause, and besides, no one ever accused Jack of having good sense.
Ken Bruen wowed critics and readers alike when he introduced Jack Taylor in The Guards; he'll blow them away with The Killing of the Tinkers, a novel of gritty brilliance that cements Bruen's place among the greats of modern crime fiction.
Ex-cop-turned-PI Jack Taylor has finally escaped the despair of his violent life in Galway in favor of a quiet retirement in the country with his friend, a former Rolling Stones roadie, and a falcon named Maeve. But on a day trip back into the city to sort out his affairs, Jack is hit by a truck in front of Galway’s Famine Memorial, left in a coma but mysteriously without a scratch on him.
When he awakens weeks later, he finds Ireland in a frenzy over the so-called “Miracle of Galway.” People have become convinced that the two children spotted tending to him are saintly, and the site of the accident sacred. The Catholic Church isn’t so sure, and Jack is commissioned to help find the children to verify the miracle—or expose the stunt.
But Jack isn’t the only one looking for these children, and he’s about to plunge into a case involving an order of nuns, an arsonist, and a girl who may be more manipulative than miraculous. From the multiple Shamus Award winner known as “the Godfather of the modern Irish crime novel” (Irish Independent), this is a hard-edged, ceaselessly suspenseful mystery in the popular long-running series.
“A Celtic Dashiell Hammett.”—Philadephia Inquirer
Jack Taylor has never quite been able get his life together, but now he has truly hit rock bottom. Still reeling from a violent family tragedy, Taylor is busy drowning his grief in Jameson and uppers, as usual, when a high-profile officer in the local Garda is murdered. After another Guard is found dead, and then another, Taylor’s old colleagues from the force implore him to take on the case. The plot is one big game, and all of the pieces seem to be moving at the behest of one dangerously mysterious team: a trio of young killers with very different styles, but who are united their common desire to take down Jack Taylor. Their ring leader is Jericho, a psychotic girl from Galway who is grieving the loss of her lover, and who will force Jack to confront some personal trauma from his past.
As sharp and sardonic as it is starkly bleak and violent, Galway Girl shows master raconteur Ken Bruen at his best: lyrical, brutal, and ceaselessly suspenseful.