Recent Events

Wednesday 7 July 2021

‘A Galway Epiphany’ by Ken Bruen

Published by Head of Zeus,
1 April 2021.
ISBN: 978-1-83893932-8 (HB)

A Galway Epiphany is the sixteenth novel featuring Jack Taylor.  The detective, who refuses to call himself one, was booted out of the Guarda Síochana even before he made his debut in the first book of the series, The Guard.  Taylor is a complicated man.  He still wears his old Garda jacket, drinks Jameson’s to excess and is laden with regret but remains the go-to fixer when residents of Galway find themselves in difficulties.  After his last case, however, Taylor wants some respite.  The self-confessed “city rat” has found a kind of solace nurturing an injured falcon and spending relatively quiet weekends on a farm owned by his pal Keefer.  Unfortunately, trouble seems to follow him around and a foray into town ends abruptly when, on the way home, he is hit by a truck. 

Taylor spends several weeks lying unconscious in hospital before he finally wakes to discover that he is being hailed as a miracle.  Two children were seen near his prone figure after the accident.  The youngsters appear to have vanished since the sightings.  Some believe that the disappearance of the children proves they were sent by God, less romantic souls think that they were trying to rob the unfortunate casualty and scarpered to avoid being caught.  Church leaders want to milk the situation if a miracle can be proved and are on the lookout for the children.  A community of nuns are just as anxious to locate them, but for different reasons.  Meanwhile an audacious and unpredictable arsonist does not want his “work” to be overshadowed by talk of “miracles.”  Taylor finds himself enmeshed within these carefully choreographed plots as they weave through the narrative.    

An eclectic mix of literary allusions and quotations enrich the well-read, self-deprecating private investigator’s storytelling.  Contemporary political and religious issues are addressed, avoiding didacticism, and never detracting from the mystery at the heart of the novel.  Bruen’s skilful use of first-person narration and emphatic dialogue as well as the detective’s solitary nature undoubtedly reflect the hard-boiled genre, but Taylor’s complexity and the sophistication of the prose defy simplistic labels.  The battles he fights on behalf of others are juxtaposed with a struggle to keep his own internal demons at bay.  This mix of social commentary, engaging storylines, crisp dialogue and a great central character explain why Jack Taylor’s exploits were successfully adopted for television in three series which ran between 2010 and 2016. 

A Galway Epiphany is gritty, violent at times and generously garnished with expletives that reflect the brutal world in which the detective lives and works.  Taylor is a thought-provoking, sometimes infuriating and always entertaining maverick.  The novel is a page-turner that can be read perfectly well as a stand-alone and recommended for all those who like a twist of Byron with their Sam Spade or Philip Marlowe.  I loved it.

Reviewer: Dot Marshall-Gent

Ken Bruen was born 3 January 1951 in Galway, Republic of Ireland. He was educated at Trinity College Dublin. He spent twenty-five years as an English teacher in Africa, Japan, S.E. Asia and South America. He is the author of The Guards (2001), the highly acclaimed first Jack Taylor novel. There are now sixteen books in the series. The most recent being A Galway Epiphany.

Dot Marshall-Gent worked in the emergency services for twenty years first as a police officer, then as a paramedic and finally as a fire control officer before graduating from King’s College, London as a teacher of English in her mid-forties.  She completed a M.A. in Special and Inclusive Education at the Institute of Education, London and now teaches part-time and writes mainly about educational issues.  Dot sings jazz and country music and plays guitar, banjo and piano as well as being addicted to reading mystery and crime fiction.  

No comments:

Post a Comment