Mysterious Press, $24.00, 278 pages, ISBN 978-0-8021-2607-8
Once the envy of the entire world soon after the millennium, the Celtic Tiger has died in Ken Bruen’s 2013 novel Purgatory, and been replaced with an Ireland that can only be described as circling the economic drain. With jobs non-existent, crime is rampant, the young professionals are emmigrating and real estate has sunk to such low prices that vulture investors are busy buying distressed property from the near bankrupt lending institutions as fast as the paperwork is finished. In Galway, an outcast Jack Taylor has physically healed from the wounds that left him deaf, limping and missing two fingers. He’s trying to move on with his life, to make the most of his remaining time on earth and exorcise the triple demons of alcohol, tobacco and prescription painkillers that’ve tormented him for most of his days. He’s moved and changed his habits as well as his old haunts in a heartfelt attempt to make the changes stick, but Galway isn’t big enough for a man as notorious as Taylor to find anonymity. Someone’s always recognizing the irascible, long-suffering, ever perspicacious detective and beseeching him to take on their anguishing case, or reopening old wounds with “Hey aren’t you the one who . . .” Taylor’s reply is always short and to the point: “I don’t care.” But when a vigilante starts to systematically murder the city’s low-lifes, and leaves enigmatic notes signed C33 taunting Jack to ‘join the fun’ and help cleanse the gene-pool . . . he can’t ignore the case. Nor can he ignore the fact that his celebrity causes an eccentric billionaire who’s in the process of buying most of Galway on the cheap to seek him out for all the wrong reasons. Taylor’s life begins spinning out of control again as his legions of personal demons, both past and present, threaten to push him into a well of darkness that has no bottom . . .
Jack Taylor is one of my favorite literary characters and author Ken Bruen is in a class all its own. Don’t miss your chance to make his acquaintance. He’s one of the best contemporary mystery and crime fiction writers alive.