After finishing “The Emerald Lie”, I wasn’t sure if Jack Taylor would be with us much longer. Yet here he is…bleary eyed & bushy tailed. But there’s something odd about him. It’s like he’s…*gasp*…happy. He’s cut down on drink & cigs, quit the PI biz & has a new woman in his life. Initially the only fly in the ointment is her pompous 9 year old son.
But who are we kidding? This is Ken Bruen & he seems to revel in putting Jack through the ringer. In the prologue, we watch as teenage twin brothers meet a horrible end. Their wealthy father approaches Jack with a job. Find the killer.
Jack has just about recovered from a recent brush with mortality & isn’t eager to descend back into the world of thugs & violence where his investigations inevitably lead. Still, it seems pretty straight forward. Oh Jack…that should have been your first clue. Turns out the twins were spoiled, psychopathic gits & the only real surprise is no one killed them sooner. Then he runs up against the man responsible & life as he knows it is over. A master manipulator, the killer proceeds to dismantle Jack’s new life from the inside. What else can he do but welcome back his dark side?
This is a quick read full of twists, violence & a kind of psychological warfare that leaves Jack reeling. He’s used to dealing with “disagreements” the Irish way. You either ignore it or get right up in its face. This time someone is getting to him by infiltrating the lives of those he loves. Jack’s not used to feeling helpless & has no choice but to return to his former life.
I suspect there’s not a lot of ambivalence when it comes to whether or not you’re a fan. You either like his stuff or you don’t. I love it. No one writes like Bruen. Bleak, gritty & darkly funny…all written with the soul of a poet who composes each book as a love letter to Galway. We see everything through Jack’s eyes & become well acquainted with the ghosts that haunt him still. The narrative is lean & light on dialogue. Instead, we listen in on Jack’s thoughts as he ponders everything from how to kill a guy to the simple pleasure of a perfectly poured pint. Galway’s streets come alive through the characters he meets & his wry observations. Liberally sprinkled around the prose are quotes & comments from politicians, authors & musicians that pertain to the central theme of silence. He’s also a prolific reader & I always enjoy his terse book reviews.
I’ve got a big soft spot for Jack & this is one of my favourites in the series. If you haven’t read Bruen before, I’d recommend starting at the beginning (‘The Guards”). That way, if you fall under his spell you’ve got a whack of books to look forward to.