Ken Bruen
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Buy *Sanctuary* by Ken Bruen online

Ken Bruen
208 pages
April 2010
rated 4 of 5 possible stars

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His life weighted with years of private guilt, P.I. Jack Taylor has sold his Galway apartment with plans to leave for America. His plans are given short shrift, however, when his friend Ridge begins a brave fight with cancer.

Tempted daily by the bottle, Taylor is battle-scarred and angst-ridden, an acerbic man of few words shocked to find himself blessed with even one friend. Itís hardly surprising, then, when an anonymous letter arrives at Jackís office bearing a list of intended murder victims. Unfortunately, Jack has no idea who has written this list or the reason for these potential deaths. One thing is certain: the killer is serious.

When the police ignore Jackís entreaty to heed the letter as well as a recent death that may not be a suicide, he takes matters into his own hands. No novice to detective work, Jack has plenty of contacts and no shortage of courage. In short, staccato chapters, Taylor moves from one eccentric character to another, always a few steps behind the killer, to the P.I.ís chagrin.

Taylorís struggle with the bottle is a daily event and one he often loses, given his temperament and worldview. But Jackís hard-bitten approach is part of his charm, a man with no expectations and a chronic shortage of hope: ďDonít count on anything being over. No matter how bad itís looking.Ē

Blindsided by his own shortcomings, Jack pays dearly for his past mistakes. Still, he has an instinct for finding this particular killer, following the meager clues until a final violent confrontation. Spare and ironic, Taylorís personality defines the mystery, the long attrition of alcohol-fueled self-destruction in conflict with a good heart.

Jack is a complicated man and a fascinating character, stubborn enough to stare death in the face yet forced by circumstances to entertain forgiveness, a son of Ireland to the core, including his struggle with the bottle. Bruen writes an engaging mystery - concise, unsparing, a fine Irish noir.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at © Luan Gaines, 2009

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