Mysterious Press/Grove Atlantic, $25.00, 345 pages, ISBN 978-0-8021-2546-0
For the past few reviews the MBR has had a string of first time authors . . . so we thought a change of pace was in order for this week, and we’re going with an old favorite, an Irish writer with more than thirty books to his name and a boatload of awards and accolades as well. He’s been called The Godfather of the modern Irish crime novel, and he’s created one of the most iconic characters in modern literature: the irascible, beat-down, alcoholic and drug-addicted, world-weary ex-cop turned vigilante and pop-culture enthusiast named Jack Taylor. He’s one of my personal, all-time favorite protagonists—who’s played to absolute perfection by Ian Glen on Netflix.
In his newest caper called The Emerald Lie, author Ken Bruen has the rain-lashed streets of Galway aflame with the hunt for a homicidal maniac the tabloids have named The Grammarian. He’s an Eton and Cambridge graduate from a privileged family . . . and a budding serial killer . . . who’s murdered several complete strangers on the city streets because they used bad grammar. While the cops are trying to figure that one out, Jack Taylor is handed an envelope, stuffed with high denomination Euros by a grieving father who wants Jack to find and kill whoever raped, tortured and murdered his daughter. Jack refuses, saying, “I don’t do murder for hire. I’m not in the contract killing business,” but the man tosses the envelope on the table and walks away. Money to Jack is like catnip to a cat . . . no way will the giver get it back. As he starts looking into the young woman’s death however, another young female named Emily reenters Taylor’s life. She’s the crazy one from Bruen’s last novel, code named Emerald, who is brilliant, maniacal and homicidal—utterly amoral and as changeable as high-altitude weather. Jack Taylor, friendless and at rock-bottom emotionally, doesn’t seem able to handle it all . . . doesn’t care . . . may be at the end of his rope. You’ll have to find out for yourself by reading The Emerald Lie and becoming a Ken Bruen aficionado. He is without a doubt in my mind one of the best living authors working in modern crime fiction. A one of a kind treasure!