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"We need to make books cool again. If you go home with someone & they don't have books, don't fuck 'em."--John Waters

I'm the author of more than twenty novels including SHADOW SEASON, THE COLD SPOT, THE COLDEST MILE, THE MIDNIGHT ROAD, THE DEAD LETTERS, and A CHOIR OF ILL CHILDREN. Look for my next one THE LAST KIND WORDS due out May '12 from Bantam Books. Contact: PicSelf1@aol.com

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Headstone by Ken Bruen

I just finished HEADSTONE, the latest Jack Taylor novel from Ken Bruen, and my friends it's a serious rip-snorter. In this one JT goes up against a group of youths who are devoted to the idea of killing off "misfits," including homosexuals, alcholics, the mentally handicapped, and pretty much anybody they just don't like. And, as you might guess, they really don't like Jack. After he and his two companions--Garda Ridge and the erstwhile ex-con Stewart--all receive miniature headstones in the mail, they know they're on the list of undesirables. Meanwhile, the cold and calculating Father Gabriel hires Jack to chase down another priest who absconded with certain church funds set aside for a satellite group of priests called the Brethren who are apparently up to no good.

Jack trudges through his cases even while he makes plans to meet with his current lady love, an American he had a whirlwind affair with in Paris and who might just be able to lift the darkness from Jack's heart, at least for a while. He's at the whim of his own history, constantly thinking about his sins and his life's small graces. The lessons of his late father spur him on, and friends and enemies from the past seemingly come out of every piece of woodwork.


All the JT books are savage reads but HEADSTONE goes to very wild, deep crevices. Bruen almost gleefully tortures his protagonist, giving him a ray of hope and happiness before quashing it. He falls into the clutches and traps of his enemies time and time again, only to survive with greater scars. It's a tremendously brutal and bleak read, but you're not reading Ken Bruen for butterflies and giggles. You want him to take you to that stinging knife-edge, and he does so with skill, poetry, and honesty, and without reservation.

2 comments:

Lou Boxer said...

Not sure what a "rip-snorter" is, but what I do know is Ken Bruen is magical in a way that bites right to the bone!

Dan said...

Just finished tearing through this one myself and yep he certainly knows how to put JT, Ridge and Stewart through their paces in this boiler.
It is no holds barred writing, some of the best Bruen has churned out in the Taylor series.
Indeed, tis a rip-snorter....but let me match your hand with another descriptor..a humdinger