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Jack Taylor is my BFF

Is there anything better than settling in for the evening, pouring yourself a stiff drink, and finishing a new Ken Bruen novel?

In Headstone, Ken’s latest Jack Taylor novel – and the first of his to be published with Otto Penzler’s revitalized Mysterious Press (see the awful jacket ARC version at left) – Jack has worked out an equilibrium with the pints and the Jameson (the Jay) and the cigs and his battered, half-deaf, limping self. He’s gotten himself a ladyfriend – they even spent a week together in Paris, in a decidedly un-Jack turn of events. Life is good… But lest we forget, this is Jack Taylor. Brace yerself, for right on Jack’s turf there’s a group of Galway kids methodically beating, murdering, and 
“…ridding the city of:
the misfits,
the handicapped,
the vulnerable,
the weak, 

the pitiful.”

It’s only a matter of time before Jack gets involved, being a misfit and all. Not to mention, de facto defender of the pitiful. Of course, as usual, he gets in over his head, at least at the start of things, and ends up – forgive me – getting his ass handed to him. But there’s no keeping auld Jack down for long…

The thing I love about Bruen’s novels is that they sort of help me reset my reading compass. As I read book after book of “serious” fiction – Eugenides, Ondaatje, Denis Johnson, Ron Hanson, etc, etc, blah, blah – it helps me to regroup & recenter a little bit with a healthy dose of Jack Taylor from time to time. The books only take me a matter of hours to get through – not because of anything but the machine-gun fast pacing and ripping-quick, brilliant dialogue. Jack holds a lot of disdain – mild hatred, even – for pretty much everyone he meets, with the exception of a select few friends. He’s without a doubt, THE best guy to have in your corner. But whether he stays in that corner from day-to-day, is another matter. 

I’ll leave you with this little bit from Headstone, which I particularly enjoyed – I think it gives you the perfect sense of what kind of a fellow Jack is. (He’s not particularly a fan of Catholic priests, I’ll have you know.)

“I’m Father Gabriel.”

Like I should know?

I asked,

“Like the Archangel?”

Too easy, but what the hell, how often do you get a Dan Brown moment, especially when he said,

“You know your angels?”

I countered,

“And my demons.”

The smile vanished. Just folded its tent and fucked off. He asked,

“Is there somewhere…less public we might talk?”

I bit down, asked,

“The confessional?”

He was seriously tiring of me, so I said,

“The River Inn, across the road, does a rather good lunch.”

I added the rather just to keep him off balance.

Some of the smile slithered back. He said,


I mean, outside of Booker nominees, who talks like that?

He added, 

“My treat.”

My cup fucking overfloweth.

See? Quit wastin’ time & get reading. 

3 comments on “Jack Taylor is my BFF

  1. Naomi Johnson
    September 21, 2011

    I can hardly stand the wait!

  2. Ben
    September 21, 2011

    I gotta get into Bruen. He's way up on my radar.

  3. Seth Marko
    September 22, 2011

    Bruen's the bomb, Ben. You'll love him.
    Naomi, the wait is over – Headstone hit shelves this week. Whatever you're reading right now isn't as good and you know it!

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This entry was posted on September 21, 2011 by in Bruen, Jack Taylor.
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