In this mesmerizing work of crime fiction, an ex-member of The Guards--Ireland's police force--is approached in a Galway bar by a dazzling woman with a strange request and a rumor about his talent for finding things.In this mesmerizing work of crime fiction, an ex-member of The Guards--Ireland's police force--is approached in a Galway bar by a dazzling woman with a strange request and a rumor about his talent for finding things.Read Less
Rarely, if ever, do I give a series opener 5 stars, but I just couldn't help myself. I started this book last night, stayed up way too late and finished it and was totally blown away. What a great book; what a great author. I would recommend this to anyone looking for something different in the mystery field, but with a caution: the plot isn't the central focus here -- it is most definitely the characters, especially that of Jack Taylor, the main character. Jack Taylor lives in Galway, Ireland, is a serious alcoholic and has lost his job with the Gardia. He has set himself up as a private detective, knows his is prone to self-destruction, has issues with his mother, and may be one of the most darkly-tormented individuals in crime fiction. But on the other hand, he turns to reading and poetry for comfort and has a soft spot for people he truly cares about. His office a pub, he gets involved in the case of a suicidal teen whose mother hires him to prove that her daughter's death was murder rather than self-inflicted. The only real lead he has is that she worked in a place with other girls, a few of whom have also committed suicide. But as I noted above, the plot is not the real story here, so this novel shouldn't be read for the mystery storyline. Jack Taylor stands out as an incredibly fascinating character, one for whom you can't help but feel sorry. The other characters surrounding him really help to draw out Jack's personality; they are also very well drawn. And the writing ...the book is divided into very short chapters that don't always have very much to say, but what's there is to the point and absolutely necessary. I love how the author is able to be very understated yet can get Jack's story out just as if Jack was a real-life, personal friend and the author's telling you all about him. The style is very original; sparse, but yet packs a punch. I definitely, most highly recommend this book and plan to read all of the Jack Taylor series here shortly. A great read!
Mar 6, 2008
A Personal Black-Irish Odssey
A brilliant depiction of family formed hopelessness bolstered by Irish-Catholic guilt and booze aflicted judgement in continual conflict with an almost hidden heroic soul. Our hero often sees the best where most anyone else would not yet misses the worst where most would clearly see. A unique and refreshing style not too unlike Cormack McCarthy at his best. I for one will be reading more of Mr. Bruen's good works.
Publishers Weekly, 2002-11-25 Bruen flaunts genre cliches (the tough cop who loves books; the beating victim who insists on checking himself out of a hospital too soon) on virtually every page of this outstanding debut mystery. He gets away with it thanks to his novel setting, the Irish seaside city of Galway, and unusual characters who are either current or former members of the Garda Siochana, the Guards, Ireland's shadowy police force. Bruen, a teacher of English in schools in Africa and Japan, has a rich and mordant writing style, full of offbeat humor. "You don't know hell till you stand in a damp dance hall in South Armagh as the crowd sing along to `Surfing Safari,' " says Jack Taylor, kicked out of the Guards for various booze-related infractions and now working sporadically as a "finder." An attractive woman pays him to look into the supposed suicide of her teenaged daughter, and Taylor manages to stay sober long enough to do it, after a fashion. There's a tendency toward cuteness (three-line lists dot the already sparse narrative), and Bruen is determined to tell us just how well read and well listened his hero is by dropping in dozens of references to writers and musical groups. But these are minor failings. With the recent accidental death of Mark McGarrity, the American who wrote (as Bartholomew Gill) about a top Dublin cop, Bruen now has a chance to become that country's version of Scotland's Ian Rankin-and perhaps the standard bearer for a new subgenre called "Hibernian Noir." (Jan. 13) Forecast: Blurbs from T. Jefferson Parker, James W. Hall, Jon A. Jackson and James Crumley will help ensure better than average sales for a first novel import. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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