Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Sanctuary by Ken Bruen

Truth be told, I will probably never miss a Ken Bruen novel as long as I live. I mean, the guy writes short-ass books with lean-ass prose that take just a couple of hours to plow right the fuck through. Also, his books always have enough despair, humor, violence, and cussing to keep my interest piqued like a teenager at his first titty bar. But Jesus H Fucking Christ the Third: the Jack Taylor series is getting pretty fucking old.

If you don’t know who Jack Taylor is, get caught up like fucking immediately. He’s an ex-cop and unlicensed PI in Galway, Ireland with the rottenest luck of any PI in the history of a genre made up of dudes with rotten-ass luck. He gets clean from coke and booze only to plummet off the wagon with the speed of a skydiver sans a fucking parachute. Over and over again he manages to kill the wrong suspect or get his few loved ones hurt or killed from his own drunkenness or incompetence. Jack Taylor is a great twist on the hard-boiled PI genre…at least he used to be.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the only way this series could shock me now is if Taylor married a good woman, won a billion dollars in the lottery, had a beautiful baby and then they all moved the Cayman Islands and lived out their days on the beach in peaceful tranquility (department of redundancy department?). I mean, the dude just keeps fucking up to the point that it is becoming old hat.

Also, it seems every fucking book the dude runs afoul of some crazy ritualistic killer. It seems like Taylor’s Galway is made up of nothing but serial killers who want to get Taylor’s goat. Shit, every Bruen novel in the last five or six years features at least one serial killer. There are other crimes and other types of criminals to fuck around with - and Bruen has dealt with other kinds of villains in his earlier works - but lately it seems Taylor’s Galway is worse than Dexter’s fucking Miami - just fucking lousy with serial killers. And don’t get the Nerd wrong here, dear reader, I love me some psycho killer shit as much as the next man (Bruen’s own standalone American Skin is arguably one of the best crime novels of the decade and that has a great psycho running through its pages), but it’s getting to be too much.

But now you’re thinking, Nerd, for fuck’s sake, I get it. Get onto the new novel already you douche.
I hear you, Reader-with-an-inner-monologue-as-profane-as-the-Nerd’s-own-inner-monologue-for-some-fucking-reason, and I’ll do just that fucking thusly.

With Sanctuary we find Taylor still hanging onto sobriety and dreaming of leaving the New Ireland for the States. The only thing holding him back: his lesbian cop friend Ridge’s slow, drunken recovery following the removal of her breast due to cancer. Well, that and someone calling themselves Benedictus is sending him letters assuring him that certain deaths he’s been reading about in the newspaper are indeed, connected. And he may be next on the next name on the list…

But it’s not all Zodiac bullshit, dear reader, not at all. The most interesting plot thread in Sanctuary is that it turns out that Jack may not be responsible for little Serena Mae’s death after all. Jack Taylor’s old drug-dealer-turned-Zen-master friend Stewart gives him a heads up that Serena May’s mother Cathy admitted in rehab that she was the one who pushed her daughter out the window (because she couldn’t handle the fact that the child was born with Down’s Syndrome) and placed the blame on Jack. So now Jack is free from his soul-crushing guilt for once in a long-time, but the guilt is obviously (and rightfully) replaced with pure rage. Either one can get a man back on the Jame-o, naturally.

So it’s a pretty substantial installment in the series, with events that actually move the overall arc of the series as a whole forward quite a bit and makes the Nerd wonder if maybe the end is in sight. I’d be sure as shit be happy if it were so, if only so Bruen could give Jack (and his fans) a fucking rest already. But like I said up top, it seems I’ve got a couple hours to spare for a Bruen no matter how many fucking serial killers I have to put up with.

1 comment:

pattinase (abbott) said...

I will be so happy if the finale in THE DRAMATIST turns out to be a wrong turn.