Some years ago, with encouragement by my friends Jen Forbus and Corey Wilde, I finally took the plunge and dived into a novel by author Ken Bruen. I reserve the right to insert and jump the order in my TBR stack, at any time. I didn’t feel bad I preempted another of my crime fiction favorites, the next in Craig Johnson’s Walt Longmire series. I’m so glad I listened as my introduction to Irish crime fiction was the first in the Jack Taylor series, The Guards.
This was the source novel for the 2010 Irish television drama based on Ken Bruen’s novels.
I enjoyed the hell out of it. The man can write — he’s a human highlight reel with his phrasing and prose. Narrator Gerry O’Brien seemed a perfect match. His Irish brogue matching Bruen’s written words via his quality voice work on the audiobook. The fact the hero of the piece was an ex-Irish cop who does ‘finder’ work, when he’s sober that is, a unique aspect. Bruen made it clear private eyes in Ireland are looked upon with a special contempt.
Quite a character to become involved with. Not to mention, the author infused this work with all sorts of references to books, music, and even film, among the descriptions of despair and dark humor the man can muster onto a page. Early into the novel, it was this section that caught me so much so that I had to dedicated a post to it. Ken Bruen can pick a sequence of movies for me, anytime.
“I love my life. That’s the best indicator of my condition. A time later, I got the munchies and began to eye the green chicken. Luckily, a frozen pizza had somehow survived my recent campaigns, and I got stuck into that. Half way through, I fell asleep. Out for six hours. If I dreamt, it was of Hotel California. When I came to, my hangover had abated. Not gone. But, definitely not howling. After a shower, and oh so careful shave, I headed for my video shelf. It’s sparse, but has my very essentials.”
Note: That last title is not a typo. Bruen wasn’t referring to Neil Marshall’s British 2002 werewolf movie debut. Robert Stone’s seminal 1974 book, Dog Soldiers, adapted to the screen in ’78 (see Kevin’s wonderful guest post), was re-titled for its U.S. release to Who’ll Stop the Rain. Not in Britain, though. The book a masterpiece, one of the most memorable I read that decade. A novel that exemplified the 70s, and was one of the better film adaptations, in fact.