Still stinging from his unceremonious ouster from the Garda Síochána—the Guards, Ireland’s police force—and staring at the world through the smoky bottom of his beer mug, Jack Taylor is stuck in Galway with nothing to look forward to. In his sober moments Jack aspires to become Ireland’s best private investigator, not to mention its first—Irish history, full of betrayal and espionage, discourages any profession so closely related to informing. But in truth Jack is teetering on the brink of his life’s sharpest edges, his memories of the past cutting deep into his soul and his prospects for the future nonexistent.
Nonexistent, that is, until a dazzling woman walks into the bar with a strange request and a rumor about Jack’s talent for finding things. Odds are he won’t be able to climb off his barstool long enough to get involved with his radiant new client, but when he surprises himself by getting hired, Jack has little idea of what he’s getting into.
Stark, violent, sharp, and funny, The Guards is an exceptional novel, one that leaves you stunned and breathless, flipping back to the beginning in a mad dash to find Jack Taylor and enter his world all over again. It’s an unforgettable story that’s gritty, absorbing, and saturated with the rough-edged rhythms of the Galway streets. Praised by authors and critics around the globe, The Guards heralds the arrival of an essential new novelist in contemporary crime fiction. The Guards is a 2004 Edgar Award Nominee for Best Novel.
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There's something about the job that leads (fictional) cops and PIs to drink, which is why booze always seems to be a minor character in the genre. This is certainly the case in Ken Bruen's debut thriller about melancholy Irishman Jack Taylor, whose luck at finding things keeps him in beer money after he's kicked out of Ireland's Garda Siochna. When the mother of a young suicide victim asks him to investigate her daughter's death, Taylor discovers that Sarah Henderson isn't the only teenager to take a long walk off a short Galway pier. His search for the perpetrator gets his best friend killed, destroys his nascent relationship with his client, and sets him up for a final betrayal few readers will see coming. This promising writer doesn't need all the tricky punctuation and excess quotations from other writers to punch up his sharp, lyrical prose, but these are minor quibbles--he's a newcomer to watch. --Jane AdamsFrom the Back Cover:
Advance Praise for Ken Bruen and The Guards
“The Guards blew me away. It’s dark, funny, and moving—just for starters. With a sharp eye and a lyrical voice, Ken Bruen takes us on a powerful odyssey through the mean streets of Galway, straight into the Irish heart. Bruen’s tale is a potent draft of desire and hopelessness, conviction and surrender, inadvertent heroism and unexpected grace. This is mystery writing of a high order.”—T. Jefferson Parker, author of Black Water and Silent Joe
“The Guards is a wonderful book, wrenching and real, fast, funny and wise in every sense. Why the hell haven’t I heard of Ken Bruen before? He’s a terrific writer and The Guards is one of the most mesmerizing works of crime fiction I’ve ever read. I’m going to read the rest of his work now, so don’t bother me for a while. And when he’s got a new one, send it to me quick. This guy is the real thing.”—James W. Hall, author of Blackwater Sound
“The Guards is raw, hard, bitter, and amazing. It’s got that ancient feel to it, as of a primal story being retold with a fine, careless Irish swagger. It’s as if Bruen made up his mind to tell us this story whether we wanted to hear it or not. Oh, we do. For sure.”—Jon A. Jackson, author of Badger Games
“The Guards is an astounding novel, a poetic account of a desperation as deep and cold as the North Sea, retribution, and resurrection. It’s so good I can’t think of it as a crime novel. It’s a fine book with some crimes.”—James Crumley, author of The Final Country
“The Guards is a pint and a half of perfect book. Make it this year’s specialty of the house.”—Boston Teran, author of The Prince of Deadly Weapons
“The Guards kicked my ass—it’s up there with the best. If Elmore Leonard got together with James Joyce to write a Spencer novel, this is what you’d get!”—David Means, author of Assorted Fire Events
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