Saturday, December 08, 2007


In Ken Bruen’s novel Priest he brings Jack Taylor, his Galway based private investigator, out of the “madhouse” to solve a horrific crime.

Jack’s lack of attention has caused the death of Serena May a three year old little girl with Down’s syndrome and that drove him to a breakdown. Serena May’s parents, Jeff and Cathy, have been traumatised by their loss and drifted back into a world of drugs and alcohol.
Jack comes out to face the world, and cope with his many demons. His only friend is the Ban Gardai Ridge, and it is one of the ironies off Jack’s life that this woman is unattainable. Ridge is gay.
But she has a stalker and asks Jack to deal with that problem, which he does in his inimitable way.

Meanwhile Father Joyce, a child abusing priest, has been beheaded in the confessional. Father Mulcahy, Jack’s dead mother’s priestly “friend”, is so worried by the murderer at large he asks Jack to investigate. Father Mulcahy is a man consumed by frustrated desire for choir boys, surrounded by a haze of tobacco smoke, and concerned that he might be next for decapitation.

In the course of his investigations Jack inherits an apartment, and gains a surrogate son and partner in Cody, a fresh faced youth with a sharp line in dialogue straight from Hollywood.
Jack investigates the men who came forward when young to report their abuse by Father Joyce, and comes across some very nasty characters.

“I play golf with your old buddy Superintendent Clancy, a man who is not fond of you I’m afraid. Think of golf as our version of the Masons, those who play golf together save their arse together.”

While young Cody has success with a young lady.

“Fellas and pubs that’s what she cares about, Pity they don’t give a degree in that.”

But Jack Taylor’s Galway is a place of failure; and this novel is all about failure by the church, by the city and even by a whole country to adapt to the ferocious change brought about by new found wealth. A place so fast moving that even the Poor Clares have a website.

"Tis not that people kill themselves in Ireland Jack, that’s no mystery, with the fierce weather.
The mystery is more don’t."

This is a powerful brilliant dark book, full of insight in to the human condition, and with wonderful little vignettes about interesting characters.
Ken Bruen has a child with Down's syndrome and their inherent goodness does give you a real insight into how pathetic and scrambling the rest of humanity is.


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