Friday, 26 September 2008
THE GUARDS BY KEN BRUEN
Ken Bruen is an author who is just getting the mainstream attention he deserves and very soon he's going to be huge. He already is in the crime writing community where he has been hailed as Ireland's answer to Ian Rankin.
This was the first time I've read any of his work and The Guards is the first book featuring his Irish PI Jack Taylor. So it's as good a jumping on point as any.
This is the first book in a long time to hit me smack on my arse. This is one harder than hard-boiled series - the Irish streets Jack Taylor operates in make Chandler's mean streets seem like Milton Keynes on a Sunday afternoon. And all the characters, even the best of them, are monstrous caricatures of hopes and failings common to us all. There seems to be a theme of redemption and faith running through the prose but it's clear that there can never be any redemption for Jack Taylor and his first person narrative takes us deep into the darkest recesses of his soul.
"There are no private eyes in Ireland. The Irish wouldn't wear it. The concept brushes perilously close to the hated "informer". You can get away with most anything except telling."
So starts this novel about Galway PI, Jack Taylor a drunken ex policeman whose life is spiralling out of control. He is given a reason to care when a woman asks him to prove her young daughter was murdered and did not commit suicide as was the official conclusion. Soon Taylor is mixed up in the disturbing world of paedophilia and his entire life goes into free-fall around him.
I won't go into any more plot details as there are several major surprises throughout the book and I don't want to give any spoilers. Suffice to say after the first big shock which comes in around a quarter of the way into the book you won't know what to expect from page to page.
The reader will soon realise that they are not reading anything predictable in any way at all. In fact this is not your standard who-dun-it but rather a novel with depth of character and a realism that is razor sharp.
Totally excellent...I have a new favourite crime author and he lives on the Emerald Isle.
Posted by Gary Dobbs/Jack Martin at 11:05