Top Pick in Mystery, November 2018
Ken Bruen’s Jack Taylor series has been a mainstay of my professional and pleasure reading since the Shamus Award-winning The Guards (2001). The series follows the downfall of Galway cop Taylor and his efforts to climb out of the (very deep) hole he created for himself with his alcoholism and his exceptionally poor choices of friends and lovers. The opening pages of In the Galway Silence find Taylor a little more settled than before: There is a romantic interest that tentatively seems to be working out, a bit of money in the bank, and he has the drinking under control for the most part. When bad stuff starts happening, only Taylor’s harshest critic could assign the responsibility to him—although it goes without saying that Taylor is his own harshest critic. One child is kidnapped and brutalized, another murdered, and a killer is on the rampage. Taylor knows who the culprit is and is powerless to do anything about it. But you can push Taylor only so far, and when he snaps, he’s gonna go bat%#@& crazy, which is the high point of Bruen’s books for most readers. Taut plotting, a staccato first-person narrative, deeply flawed yet sympathetic characters and the windy, wet Irish milieu conspire to put Bruen’s novels into a class by themselves.