MysteryPeople’s Pick of the Month: ‘The Galway Epiphany’ by Ken Bruen

Crime Fiction Coordinator Scott M.  reviews The Galway Epiphany by Ken Bruen, MysteryPeople’s Pick of the Month for November. Read more below.

 
9780802157034_ee1dbThere were reports last year that Galway Girl would be the last last novel in Ken Bruen’s Jack Taylor series. Luckily, that was a rumor. The misanthropic Galway detective is back in one of his best yet with The Galway Epiphany. And while Taylor may have found a better outlook on his life, but it’s still a bleak life.
 
We find Jack possibly at his most peaceful, living on the country estate of his friend, ex-Rolling Stones roadie and hawk trainer, Keefer. A trip of personal affairs brings him back to Galway where he is hit by a truck and robbed by two children as he passes out. He awakens in the hospital unscathed and is soon hired by a questionable order of nuns to find the two kids, who Jack learns are two refugees from Guatemala deemed “miracle children.” The trail puts him up against an arsonist and he is also hired to avenge a young girl’s suicide caused by a cyber-bully. As Jack learns more about the children, he discovers two kids who were molded into sociopaths, particularly the girl, Sara. To say more would ruin the emotional jolts the author designed.
 
Bruen uses all of the tropes he has established in the series to deliver something in relationship to the progress Taylor has made. He knows we don’t want a chipper Jack. The sudden brutal violence, black humor and the dark journeys to the heart are all there. Now they become a bigger threat to Taylor, who has a newfound and fragile sense of himself. He has become less victim and more survivor. All of it is put in a precarious position as he is pushed to a hellish decision.
 
Many look at Jack Taylor as an anti-hero, but his world is making him a hero. Much like Sara, circumstances have hardened him to do the dirtiest of jobs. However, probably due to being an avid reader, they have not not obliterated his heart or empathy to be the Chandler tarnished knight when the chips are down as his cases in The Galway Epiphany run along the backdrop of Trump and Brexit news barreling near the COVID-19 discovery. Let’s hope Ken Bruen keeps Jack around for our time.

The Galway Epiphany and other titles mentioned in this post are available at BookPeople in-store and online now.
 
About the Author: Ken Bruen imagereceived a doctorate in metaphysics, taught English in South Africa, and then became a crime novelist. The critically acclaimed author of twelve previous Jack Taylor novels and The White Trilogy, he is the recipient of two Barry Awards and two Shamus Awards and has twice been a finalist for the Edgar Award. He lives in Galway, Ireland.

REVIEW OF IN THE GALWAY SILENCE BY KEN BRUEN

In The Galway Silence is the first book in the Jack Taylor series–it’s a follow up to “The Emerald Trilogy” where the character was involved with a Gaelic femme fatale. We find the semi-functioning Irish “finder” picking up the pieces that Emerald left in her wake in a life that is different. As dark as those three books were, Bruen finds ways to take Jack and the reader further down into the abyss.

In the Galway Silence Cover ImageYou know it is going to be dark when Jack tells you he has found a good point in his life. An inheritance has him flush and he is in a stable relationship. Saving a drowning man and being asked of two things puts him on his new road to Hell. An Irish version of the Trump brothers are drowned and their father wants to hire Jack to locate the killer. He refuses, but finds himself drawn into the case. His girlfriend asks him to look after her bratty son while she is in America for a couple weeks. These events and the return of a lover from the past tie Jack to a killer who calls himself Silence and makes him an opponent in a dark chess game.

Bruen uses the idea of silence as a dual theme. One is the quiet life that Jack struggles to attain, particularly after the chaos with Emerald. Jack follows current events as much as his case, connecting it to our own need for solace from the noise of a Brexit/Trump world. Silence also expresses the death that circles around Taylor as events close in. One great example is Bruen’s use of one small sentence after long rambling paragraph describing the day he spent with someone he gets to know and love. That sentence makes it clear there will never be another day they’ll have.

Bruen follows Taylor as someone attempting to retreat from the damage he’s been a part of. The only problem is, it keeps coming. He wonders if he is drawn to it, his penchant for self destruction only destroying others. He struggles to find a way to connect with anyone if fate always forces him to tap into the darkest part of himself.

In The Galway Silence is both Ken Bruen and The Jack Taylor series at it’s best. Bruen examines his hero and his city with a styles that cuts to the marrow of both. Jack Taylor may not always be a likable character, but we wouldn’t like him any other way.

 

Hard Boiled Poets: MysteryPeople Q&A with Ken Bruen, Peter Spiegelman and Reed Farrel Coleman

  • Post by Crime Fiction Coordinator Scott Montgomery

Many may not see poetry in the hard boiled crime fiction genre created by the likes of Dashiell Hammett, James Cain, and Mickey Spillane. That said, many of today’s best writers in that field come of poetry. Both forms rely on style and word craft. With April being National Poetry Month, I contacted three of my favorite poet/novelists to explore the relationship between the two.

Reed Farrel Coleman’s two main series, featuring protagonists Moe Prager and Gus Murphy contain an emotional immediacy associated with poetry. He examines the facets of emotions in a crystal clear manner and his phrasing has a lyrical quality. “Meter is often overlooked, but the rhythm with which I write helps propel the reader forward. I don’t count out iambs, but I can hear the rhythm of my words in my head.”

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Scott’s Top Five International Crime Novels

As we begin our celebration of International Crime Fiction Month, we’ll bring you top lists of world crime writers all week, leading up to our panel discussion on the highly debatable topic of what international crime fiction is the “best.” Join critic Hopeton Hay, authors Janice Hamrick and Mark Pryor, and booksellers Scott and Molly for our Crime Fiction Around the World event, coming up this Sunday from 2-4 PM. The event takes place on BookPeople’s 3rd floor, and we’ll have giveaways galore!

Scott Montgomery’s Top Five International Crime Novels

magdalen martyrs1. The Magdalen Martyrs by Ken Bruen

This is Bruen’s third book to feature Jack Taylor, the drug and alcohol addicted, self-loathing, and poetically bleak Galway “finder” (the term detective if not looked on favorably by the Irish). To get out from under the thumb of a local gangster, Jack has to track down the nun who helped the hood’s mother escape the infamous Magdalen Laundry,  where the Church put unwed mothers into indentured servitude. Dark, uncompromising, with a unique style. You can find copies of on our shelves and via bookpeople.com

the thief2. The Thief by Fuminori Nakamura

A robber-turned-pick-pocket’s simple life of crime gets overturned by a kid, his sex worker mother, and his old partners in crime who pull him into one last score. Nakamura uses his minimalist style to create a heist novel that surprises you with its humanity and gives you a great look at Tokyo’s underbelly.  You can find copies of The Thief on our shelves and via bookpeople.com

gbh3. GBH by Ted Lewis

A great example of British nastiness in crime fiction. Told in two time frames, we follow the fall of a London porn king, and his search for who set him up as he licks his wounds in a sea side town during the winter. The book is blunt with a cast of irredeemable, yet human, characters, and uses violence like a guillotine hanging over every one’s head.  You can find copies of GBH on our shelves and via bookpeople.com

97819355542024. Happy Birthday, Turk! by Jakob Arjouni

Picture a German Rockford Files with Jim Rockford as a Turkish immigrant and you basically have series character Kemal Kayankaya. This second book has him looking into the stabbing of a fellow Turk that the police have ignored, His investigation keeps getting him roughed up, gassed, and occasionally getting chased down by a Fiat. Hardboiled and humorous with an insight into immigrant life in Germany.  You can find copies of Happy Birthday, Turk! on our shelves and via bookpeople.com

total chaos5. Total Chaos by Jean Claude Izzo

The fist in Izzo’s Marseille trilogy has cop and criminal hunting down their childhood friend’s killer. This book beautifully languishes in its grungy corrupt setting and the emotional ennui of its protagonist. A tough poetic look at male code and camaraderie.  You can find copies of Total Chaos on our shelves and via bookpeople.com

Three Picks for March

  • picks from Crime Fiction Coordinator Scott Montgomery

97800623445881Hard Cold Winter by Glenn Erik Hamilton

 

Former thief and soldier Van Shaw is asked to locate the sister of one of his old running buddies. When he finds her and the son a prominent Seattle family murdered, he’s caught between the cities power brokers, organized crime factions, the law, and his personal code. Hamilton is creating a series that truly defines modern hardboiled. You can find copies of Hard Cold Winter on our shelves and via bookpeople.com.


Speakers Of The Dead by J Aaron Hamilton9780143128717

In 1843 New York, young newspaper reporter Walt Whitman is on a crusade to clear the name of a friend hung for murder. The mystery involves grave robbers, city corruption, and the clash of religion and medical practice of the time, as Whitman has to face cops and criminals alike on the city’s streets that were as dangerous and gritty then as they were then as they are now.. Great for fans of Caleb Carr’s The Alienist. You can find copies of Speakers of the Dead on our shelves and via bookpeople.com.

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PIMP by Ken Bruen and Jason Starr

Max and Angela are conniving again. Their life story has been turned into a bestselling book and now there is a TV show in the works. You know both will do anything to get a piece of the action. Throw in some gang members, a screenwriter out for vengeance, a new designer drug, and a Kardashian or two, and you have a wild, violent, satire that drops more than a few recognizable names to crime fiction fans, poking fun at many of them.You can find copies of PIMP on our shelves and via bookpeople.com.

Hard Word Book Club Discussing THE MAGDALEN MARTYRS by Ken Bruen, Followed By Screening

magdalen martyrsThe Hard Word Book club will meet to discuss Ken Bruen’s Gaelic Noir masterpiece, The Magdalen Martyrs, Wednesday, March 25, at 7 PM, on BookPeople’s Third Floor. We will follow the book discussion with a special screening of “The Magdalen Martyrs” episode of the Jack Taylor series, starring Iain Glenn. Books for book clubs are 10% off in the month of their selection.


The Hard Word Book Club continues to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with its latest discussion of one of Ireland’s finest. The Magdalen Martyrs is considered to be Ken Bruen in top form. The Magdalen Martyrs proves Bruen a master of Gaelic Noir on two counts: the novel is very Irish and very, very dark.

The Magdalen Martyrs is Bruen’s third book to chronicle Jack Taylor. Taylor is an ex-gardi (Irish police) with a major drink and drug problem, issues with his mother, a love of books, and a lot of self loathing. To make ends meet, he hires himself out as a “finder” in Galway; detective being a dirty word in Ireland.

Jack has two jobs in The Magdalen Martyrs. A young man hires him to find out if his mother murdered his father like he believes. This taps into Jack’s toxic relationship with his own mother. The second involves a favor called in by local badman Bill Cassell. Taylor’s second case quickly connects to the dark history of the Magdalen Laundry: a place where, for decades, the Catholic Church took in unwed mothers, adopted out their babies, and kept the unwed mothers for years as slave labor. A woman helped Cassell’s mother escape decades ago before she met his father and wants Jack to find the lady to thank her. Both cases turn up dark history that folks want left alone and some are willing to kill to keep secret.


The Magdalen Martyrs provides a lot to talk about, including Ken Bruen’s style of writing and what his subject matter. Join us on the 25th of March at 7 PM, on our third floor. The book is 10% off to those who attend. Following our discussion, we will also be viewing “The Magdalen Martyrs” episode of the Jack Taylor series staring Iain Glenn from Downton Abbey and Game of Thrones.

The Hard Word Book Club Celebrates Springsteen

trouble in the heartland

The Hard Word Book Club meets Wednesday, February 25, at 7 pm, on BookPeople’s third floor, to discuss Trouble In The Heartland, edited by Joe Clifford. Clifford calls in to make this a special Hard Word occasion. All book club books are 10% off in the month of their selection.


Bruce Springsteen is one of the most influential artists out there. Not only has he inspired his fellow musicians, he’s done the same with painters, illustrators, film directors, and writers. Trouble In The Heartland, edited by Joe Clifford, and this month’s subject of discussion at the Hard Word Book Club, meeting Wednesday, February 25, at 7 pm, shows modern crime fiction’s debt to The Boss.

All forty stories, many under five pages, are inspired by Springsteen titles. Authors consist of the likes of Dennis Lehane, Hilary Davidson, and brilliant newcomer Jordan Harper; while most are crime fiction, there is a touch of western and sci-fi as well. Some follow the songs closely; others take the title in a different direction like Lincoln Crisler’s “Born To Run”. All have Springsteen’s working class pathos and raw emotion.

Joe Clifford has agreed to call in to discuss the book with us. He’s a world class author in his own right with books like Lamentation and his collection of shorts, Choice Cuts. On top of that, he’s just a great guy.


We’ll be meeting on the third floor, Febraury 25th, 7PM. The Hard word Book Club meets the last Wednesday of each month. Trouble In The Heartland is 10% off to those who attend. Our book for March 25th will be Ken Bruen’s The Magdalen Martyrs. You can find our book club selections on our shelves and via bookpeople.com.

Five Great Irish Crime Fiction Authors

For St. Patrick’s Day we thought we’d spotlight some authors who have done their country and their genre proud. Here’s some great reading to go along with your green beer, corned beef and cabbage.

1. KEN BRUEN

Many have tried to capture this man’s machine-gun style prose, yet few get the master’s magic. His ex-cop-turned-finder, Jack Taylor, is an addict who hates his mother, pisses off tourists, and is one of the most engaging characters to come down the road in the past couple of decades.

Stand Out Titles – The Guards, The Magdalen Martyrs

 

2. GENE KERRIGAN

Kerrigan has drawn comparisons to Elmore Leonard with his sharp characterizations, naturalistic dialogue, and his loose Rube-Goldberg style plotting. He also gives you the social map of his country, particularly in it’s post-recession years, and explores their institutions. Completely human yet hard-boiled to the core.

Stand Out Titles – The Midnight Choir, The Rage

 

3. STUART NEVILLE

While one can see the influence of one his favorites, James Ellroy, this author has a voice all his own that he uses to tackle the shadowy parts of Irish history. Many of his books deal with Fagin, former IRA, and Lennon, a copper, who both love the same woman. His flawed heroes often find themselves up against corrupt politics in stories that are good, hard, and dark.

Stand Out Titles – Ghosts Of Belfast, Ratlines

 

4. ADRIAN McKINTY

McKinty’s Troubles trilogy follows DI Sean Duffy, a Catholic copper in Thatcher-era Belfast. Needless to say, he has few allies. However we love him for his sense of humor and justice that combats the weariness of violence in that era.

Stand Out Titles – The Cold, Cold Ground, In the Morning I’ll Be Gone

 

5. JOHN CONNOLLY

Even though most of his books are set in the States, Connolly’s tales of Maine private detective (and possible fallen angel) Charlie Parker have the melancholy and supernatural flavor to rival any of his countrymen. With meditations on loss, redemption, good & evil, and tragic love, can you get more Irish?

Stand Out Titles – The Black Angel, The Burning Soul

MysteryPeople Q&A with Douglas Corleone

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Douglas Corleone’s Good As Gone is a great thriller with a hard-boiled detective edge. We asked Doug a few questions about his new book and new character, Simon Fisk

purchase here

MYSTERYPEOPLE: How did the idea of Simon Fisk come about?

DOUGLAS CORLEONE: My inspiration for Good As Gone came from a one-page article I’d read online about a private investigator in Tampa, Florida, who specializes in retrieving children kidnapped by their estranged parents and taken overseas to countries that don’t recognize U.S. custody decisions. Fortunately, I printed the article and saved it for two years at the bottom of my filing cabinet.

When my agent said that my editor would like to see something new from me, I immediately went digging and had a one-page synopsis for Good As Gone a few hours later.

MP: While Good As Gone has some comic relief in it, it is more somber than your Kevin Corelli series. Did you welcome the change in tone?

DC: I have mixed feelings. It’s fun to write funny, but it’s also very difficult to sustain a significant level of humor for 350 pages. I also love to challenge myself when writing, and I was happy for the opportunity to write a novel substantially darker than my Kevin Corvelli books.  So I did welcome the change in tone in many ways, but that’s not to say I don’t miss Kevin Corvelli’s quirks and his unique worldview.

MP: One of the things I loved about Good As Gone was that Simon has a sidekick for almost every country he’s in. How did you approach writing these characters?

DC: Simon Fisk is very much a loner like Lee Child’s Jack Reacher. But, I knew he’d need help along the way. You can take a number of risks with a sidekick that you can’t take with a main character, especially the hero of a series.

So, I tried to be fearless in creating characters like the Berlin Private Investigator Kurt Ostermann and the Warsaw lawyer, Anastazja Staszak. I allowed Ostermann to be as hard and as brutal as he seemed to want to be. Ana, well… Ana is based on someone I knew well and who was very special to me.  I permitted Ana to be herself, and she was every bit as smart and funny, and courageous and stubborn as I expected her to be.  If the real Ana reads the book – and I suspect she might, since it was translated into Polish, and is being released in Poland this fall – I think she’ll immediately recognize herself.  And then she’ll insist that I got her all wrong, simply because she’s a contrarian.

MP: There is a lot of globe trotting in the book. How do you go about bringing out the personality of each setting?

DC: I let the characters bring out the personality of each setting. If I accomplished what I set out to, then the reader won’t notice me at all.  When I read a thriller, I dread lengthy descriptions of setting.  I think the setting’s personality is best established through the hero’s interaction with the place and time he’s in.

If an author knows the place he’s writing about well enough (through firsthand experience and/or rigorous research), then the setting shines through as brightly as the characters and the author’s hand is invisible. Simon doesn’t stop to smell the roses; he can’t afford to.  But he may spot them from the corner of his eye, and if they’re relevant he’ll tell you about them.  If not, he won’t.

MP: Fisk has gone through hell in his back-story. What keeps him going?

DC: What keeps Simon going is empathy. He’s experienced the pain of losing everything; and if he can prevent someone else from experiencing that kind of suffering, he’ll risk life and limb to do so.  He’s also keenly aware that he doesn’t want to die without knowing what happened to his daughter.  He wants to know who took her and why; and he’ll never stop looking.

MP: Your books are a unique mix of sub-genres. Does a writer as unique as you have any influences?

DC: I have many influences and they come from a variety of genres and sub-genres.  Readers might catch the reference to Patrick Bateman, Bret Easton Ellis’ anti-hero from American Psycho. Charles Bukowski and Hunter S. Thompson were major influences on Kevin Corvelli’s sense of humor.  Lee Child’s Jack Reacher is a major influence on Simon Fisk. Other influences of mine are Ken Bruen for his Irish noir, Jeff Abbott for his jet setting, David Rosenfelt for his wisecracks, and the late great Elmore Leonard for his dialogue, just to name a few…

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We have several copies of Good As Gone with signed book plates available on our shelves and via bookpeople.com