Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Ken Bruen's "Green Hell": Book Review

As a loyal reader of the Jack Taylor series, I feared that he would not survive the batterings and beatings meted out to him in Galway's alleys or penthouses. But Ken Bruen keeps his protagonist going. Like the later installments, a young person of Goth tendencies surfaces, This time it's Emerald--she's a welcome presence to keep the plot moving as hard-bitten but tender prose.

Bruen is in fine form even if Jack is beaten down. Some of his allies have not survived the past few books, and this one makes our anti-hero feel more isolated in his home city, as it changes along with the economic boom not gone bust--but not for everyone. The critique of Irish society in more materialistic, secularized, and rueful times cuts as always, and is leavened by Bruen-as-Taylor's nods to real songs. And books, by his crime writing comrades, whom he praises through Jack's choice of entertainment.

Also we find an American student, abandoning his thesis on Beckett to tell Jack's story. This I like. For the first time in these books, we get a substantial portion of the narrative conveyed from another point-of-view. This enables audiences to see Jack as seen through the newcomer's fascinated eyes, and it's very entertaining. It runs more smoothly than a few of the recent installments, too.

Visits to bars, to charity shops, to Charlie Byrne's (real) bookshop where Ken Bruen's books are sold (always a nice touch) reoccur. The Church as usual via Fr. Maurice comes in for some harsh repartee, and the ex-colleagues on the Garda as usual regard their former colleague with delightful disdain. Academia at the local university comes in for its own depiction, and drives the plot here.

The summation provided on Amazon's site sets up the background efficiently. It's difficult to review these books in depth, as much depends on the rush of the action, the rueful reflections of Jack, and the intricate wrongs done by those often higher up in the corrupt port city. It's fun to imagine Jack taking out baddies across from the Claddagh and the chapel on Galway's docks, isn't it? (6/22/15)


Ken Bruen said...

Thank you so,much John andGod bless your warm heart
Bean nacho leat

John L. Murphy / "Fionnchú" said...

Ken, this made my day and more. Mahagony gaspipe agatsa from a son of a Salthill-born mother. John