Ken Bruen
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Buy *Headstone* by Ken Bruenonline

Ken Bruen
Mysterious Press
288 pages
September 2012
rated 5 of 5 possible stars

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Jack Taylor is not your average PI. Forced from the Garda, he has since spent years back in his native Galway, sunk in alcoholism, drugs and depression. Such is life with losses, and Jack has had more than his share. Fiercely loyal to his few friends and unexpectedly kind to those suffering, he is also capable of enormous rage and violence. Taylor is the man you go to when something has to be done and the law just doesn’t seem adequate to the task.

Galway is suffering from a new kind of criminal. The weak and helpless--a boy with Down’s Syndrome, a homeless man, an old retired priest--are being targeted and savagely murdered on the streets. The murderers seem to be a new breed of mindless violence: young people who have everything to live for and no desire to do anything more than destroy all around them. The victims are sent miniature headstones, and Jack is an early recipient. When the gang attacks him, they mark him for life but leave him alive to watch as they carry out their plans. Finding and stopping the gang is a race against time for Jack and his friends.

Bruen is an amazing writer, and readers who have not yet discovered him have a rare treat in store. Taylor is an anti-hero, but one whom the reader cannot help but cheer for. To offset his violent ways, he is also a reader, a music and art appreciator, and his unsparing assessment of himself is full of clarity. When one sees one’s faults but still rises to the occasion when something needs to be done, there is something heroic about them. The prose is short, choppy at times, full of insistence that the story move onward, ever onward to a stunning conclusion. Headstone is one of a series of Jack Taylor novels, and those new to this author will close the last page and rush out to find the others.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at www.curledup.com. © Sandie Kirkland, 2012

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