The Guards – Ken Bruen

This is a patchy but interesting crime novel, set in Eire, and featuring an all too realistically alcoholic ex policeman, Jack Taylor.

The central story – apart from Taylor’s battle with the bottle – is about a series of suicides by young girls. Except somebody doesn’t think they are suicides and recruits Jack to look into matters. Thus starts the somewhat rocky adventures of the reluctant, but dogged, private investigator. He faces obstacles in the shape of the law, a powerful local businessman, and his poisonous relationship with his mother and the church.

There is a touch of humor  in places, but mostly this is a gritty and dark and painful story. The writing is good in the sense that it carries the reader along, but some of the pacing is off (that’s the ‘patchy’ aspect) as sometimes I felt things were just standing still for no good reason. The climax is well put together, however, and drew a sharp intake of breath from me with its unexpected twist.

I had never heard of this writer until I stumbled across the television series based on the books. The TV programs were OK, but I suspected the books might be better, and to my mind they are.

I would rate this as a good solid start, promising more, so I’ll be delving further into the life and times of another damned defective detective.