Ken Bruen is an Irish treasure. His noir protagonist Jack Taylor is an ex-cop from the Galway Guard wrestling with a host of addictions. Among his few friends are Stewart, a drug dealer turned Zen master, and Ridge, a tough, gay sergeant of the Guard. In Bruen's nine previous Taylor novels, Jack's been around, been jacked up and beaten down, but has remained "always the hard arse" and "a cocktail of self interest, self-doubt, and of course self-harm." As he says, "That doesn't make me bad so much as Irish."

In Purgatory, a serial vigilante killer using the pseudonym Oscar Wilde sends cryptic notes to Taylor trying to get him to help in eliminating Galway's unpunished criminals freed by shady defense lawyers. But Taylor doesn't bite. Instead, he takes on a simple investigation into a church statuary theft and reluctantly accepts a lucrative assignment from Reardon, an expat American dot-com billionaire who's out to buy all the city's depression-priced property and suspects an employee of selling information to his competition. On the wagon, but with frequent lapses, Taylor lets Stewart pursue the vigilante while he pursues Reardon's attractive, smart-mouthed American assistant, Kelly. But violence won't leave Taylor alone: Ridge is beaten nearly to death and Stewart pushes his vigilante hunch one shotgun blast too far. And Kelly... well, she turns out to have a psychopathic past and an obsession with Oscar Wilde.

Bruen's dazzling Irish storytelling voice has its roots in the descriptive wit of Robert Parker and the lowlife dialogue of George V. Higgins. In Purgatory, Ken Bruen brings his A game. --Bruce Jacobs, founding partner, Watermark Books & Cafe, Wichita, Kan.

Powered by: Xtenit