This is the second book in Ken Bruen's series about ex -Garda (Irish policeman)Jack Taylor,who earns a living now as a sort of private eye ,although this is not a profession recognised by Irish law.when the book opens he is returning to his nataive Galway ,after a stint in London.In the interim he has married a German mature student ,Kiki .although she has been left behind in London. What he has returned to Galway with however are his major league alcohol and cocaine habits ,recurrent evils in his life.He quickly hooks up with old friends Jeff )a tavern owner )and Jeff's partner ,Cathy.
Before too long he finds work as an enquiry agent ,being recruited by Sweeper,the head of the local itenerant community ,the tinkers.to investigate the brutal murders of several young men from that community ,murders being given a low priority by the Garda.The victims are all male ,in the early 20's and their naked and mutilated bodies have been dumped on waste ground near the Simon Community, an alcohol treatment centre .He is warned against pursuing his enquiries by the local Garda commander ,his old partner Clancy, and is also savagely beaten up by anti-tinker thugs.(Please note that the violence in this book -and others in the series-is graphic and realistic,Jack's injuries being extensive and described in detail .The book is not for those readers who object to violence and profanity -the books are loaded with them )He is aided in his search by a friend from London ,the old style tough copper Keegan -a dinosaur in methods and attitudes but an effective policeman and stalwart friend
Suspicion falls on a worker in the Simon Community-a supercilious young Englisman ,Ronald Bryson ,a man who seems a few bricks short of a load.He taunts Jack and threatens him through his girlfriend ,Laura ,to an extent that Jack is forced to resort to vigilante acation against him.There is however a twist in the tale -a cruel and bitter one ,that sickens Jack to his very soul.
This is a very bleak book .Violence haunts its pages and even seemingly dapper and poetic souls like Sweeper have apenchant for violent revenge.It is also a very literary book -Jack seeks solace in books and the novel is studded with references to and quotations from ,the author's favourite writers ,such as Pelecanos ,McBain, ,Chester Himes and the mystic Thomas Merton.Music is also important to Taylor and there are frequent refernces to his musical heroes (and villains).As before Galwat itself is a potent force in the experience of the book and it is acity which both delights and angers Jack .The thriving local economy has meant yuppieficationn and the loss of any sense of community as migrants flock into the city and crowd the impoverished locals to the margins of society,
It is marketed as a crime novel and surely there is some merit in this -it is about murder and the ramifications that come in its wake .However detection is not at the core of the book which is more about Taylor's own personal odyssey .It is a study in a dislocated society and of a man enduring rage ,loneliness and displacement
Read only if you can tolerate pessimism and if you insist on neat ,tidy resolutions to problems you should avoid the book .It is not your bag.For those who love noir fiction however this is manna of the first magnitude