Ghosts of Galway

Ken Bruen is a singular voice in crime fiction with his ear for lilting Irish prose and his taste for the kind of gallows humor heard only at the foot of the gallows” (New York Times Book Review). In The Ghosts of Galway, he brings those elegiac talents to bear on a case involving a famously blasphemous red book and Bruen’s equally profane antihero Jack Taylor. As well-versed in politics, pop culture, and crime fiction as he is ill-fated in life, Jack Taylor is recovering from a mistaken medical diagnosis and a failed suicide attempt. In need of money, and with former cop on his resume, Jack has been hired as a night-shift security guard. But his Ukrainian boss has Jack in mind for a bit of off-the-books work. He wants Jack to find what some claim to be the first true book of heresy,The Red Book, currently in the possession of a rogue priest who is hiding out in Galway after fleeing a position at the Vatican. Despite Jack’s distaste for priests of any stripe, the money is too good to turn down. Em, the many-faced woman who has had a vise on Jack’s heart and mind for the past two years, reappears and turns out to be entangled with the story of The Red Book, too, leading Jack down ever more mysterious and lethal pathways. It seems all sides are angling for a piece of Jack Taylor, but as The Ghosts of Galway twists toward a violent end, he is increasingly plagued by ghosts – by the disposable and disposed of in a city filled with as much darkness as the deepest corners of Jack’s own mind.”

This is another installment in Bruen’s Jack Taylor series so I think you’ll enjoy this more if you’ve read the previous books which would have given you a more thorough understanding and appreciation for the characters plus Bruen’s writing style which can be on the rough side with lots of ‘colorful’ language. For non-UK people: he uses words and phrases common to Ireland and the area so if you aren’t familiar with them you might feel lost. If you haven’t read him before, particularly his previous Taylor novels, hopefully you’ll cut Bruen some slack and if you aren’t familiar with the different phraseology look at this as an adventure, a chance to expand your vocabulary and appreciate a culture different from yours.

Bruen returns in his typical brilliant fashion to provide another nail-biting plot that combines some great action sequences with Taylor’s wonderfully written emotional trauma that is his life. Fans of Taylor will love this book as you get dive back into the type of humor only an Irishman can write with settings that somehow still jump off the page as if you’re there taking in the beauty and grit around you.

Bruen is not for the faint hearted as he doesn’t pull his punches and seems to revel in graphic details which comes out full force in this novel. Whether his plot devices contain politics (after all with Trump president who is NOT wading into those waters these days?), bloody violence, disturbing psychological behavior, or seemingly impossible actions for a man who at his age should be spending his time having a pint of the black stuff while telling rousing tales in the pub Bruen is going to hit a nerve and that edginess is what makes him worth reading.

Thank you to Netgalley and Mysterious Press for allowing me to review this book.

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*synopsis and pic from

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