|Publisher:||St. Martin's Minotaur|
Still stinging from his unceremonious ouster from the Garda SÌoch·na—the Guards, Ireland’s police force—and staring at the world through the smoky bottom of his beer mug, Jack Taylor is stuck in Galway with nothing to look forward to. In his sober moments Jack aspires to become Ireland’s best private investigator, not to mention its first—Irish history, full of betrayal and espionage, discourages any profession so closely related to informing. But in truth Jack is teetering on the brink of his life’s sharpest edges, his memories of the past cutting deep into his soul and his prospects for the future nonexistent.
Nonexistent, that is, until a dazzling woman walks into the bar with a strange request and a rumor about Jack’s talent for finding things. Odds are he won’t be able to climb off his barstool long enough to get involved with his radiant new client, but when he surprises himself by getting hired, Jack has little idea of what he’s getting into.
Stark, violent, sharp, and funny, The Guards is an exceptional novel, one that leaves you stunned and breathless, flipping back to the beginning in a mad dash to find Jack Taylor and enter his world all over again. It’s an unforgettable story that’s gritty, absorbing, and saturated with the rough-edged rhythms of the Galway streets. Praised by authors and critics around the globe, The Guards heralds the arrival of an essential new novelist in contemporary crime fiction.
There’s something about the job that leads (fictional) cops and PIs to drink, which is why booze always seems to be a minor character in the genre. This is certainly the case in Ken Bruen’s debut thriller about melancholy Irishman Jack Taylor, whose luck at finding things keeps him in beer money after he’s kicked out of Ireland’s Garda Siochna. When the mother of a young suicide victim asks him to investigate her daughter’s death, Taylor discovers that Sarah Henderson isn’t the only teenager to take a long walk off a short Galway pier. His search for the perpetrator gets his best friend killed, destroys his nascent relationship with his client, and sets him up for a final betrayal few readers will see coming. This promising writer doesn’t need all the tricky punctuation and excess quotations from other writers to punch up his sharp, lyrical prose, but these are minor quibbles—he’s a newcomer to watch. —Jane Adams