Mystery Books for Sale

[ Home ]
[ About | Reviews | Search | Submit ]


by Ken Bruen
St Martin's Minotaur, January 2004
244 pages
ISBN: 0312304110

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

At the end of THE GUARDS, which marked Jack Taylor's first appearance, the ex-Guard turned private investigator left for England, the taste of rank failure in his mouth. He planned to rent a flat in Bayswater and sober up; he found a bedsit in Ladbrooke Grove and the seductions of coke. Now he's back in Galway, back on the sauce, with only a new leather coat and a cocaine habit to show for his troubles. He is engaged by a man named Sweeper to look into the deaths of young tinkers, whose mutilated corpses are turning up regularly.

The job is a good fit. The Gardai are not interested in pursuing the cases, because the tinkers, known properly as travellers, are despised outsiders. Once they roamed the roads of Ireland in horse-drawn caravans, attracting a reputation for thievery and sharp horse-trading. Now they are motorized but still nomadic and the object of suspicion. Often confused with gypsies, they may be descendants of peasants dispossessed during the Famine. Whatever their origin they are both of Ireland and rejected by it. Who better than an outsider like Jack to investigate their murders?

Well, there might be better choices, but there is no private eye in fiction today with Jack's breadth of literary reference, ironic self-awareness, and habit of brilliant list-making. At a time when even the better crime novels are bloated past the point that they can be comfortably read in bed, Bruen provides a spare, tightly-focussed narrative that is not one word longer or shorter than it should be. Although in general I am not a big fan of alcholic private-eye novels, Bruen avoids the self-indulgence and self-pity that so commonly sinks the genre. Highly recommended.

Reviewer's note: This review refers to the US edition of the original UK edition, published in 2003. It has not been edited for the American market to any serious degree.

Reviewed by Yvonne Klein, January 2004

[ Top ]



Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

[ About | Reviews | Search | Submit ]
[ Home ]