Saturday, 19 June 2021

The Guards - Ken Bruen


The Guards is the first novel in Bruen's Jack Taylor series - hardboiled Galway noir laced with grim humour.  Taylor is an ex-garda, alcoholic, who has slid into becoming an ad hoc investigator for hire.  One day Anne Henderson hires him to investigate the supposed suicide of her teenaged daughter.  This brings Jack into conflict with his former police colleagues, the wealthy entrepreneurs who have crossed the Irish Sea to ride the Celtic Tiger, and the most deadly enemy of all, alcohol.  Several beatings, collapses and cures later, he discovers the truth, which is bleaker and blacker than even he supposed.

I quite enjoyed the TV movies with Iain Glen as Jack, but the novels are far better.  Bruen has the style of Chandler, the darkness of Ellroy and a punchier drive narrative drive than either.  His story proceeds in short, tightly-packed chapters, many of which are not even a page in the e-book version.  Interspersed are quotes and oneliners from some very jaundiced but always appropriate commentators.  The story is something and nothing but the character development is captivating, especially of Jack himself and his associate Sutton.

I am a convert to the series.  Only another fourteen - so far - to go.

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