Someone is scraping the scum off the streets of Galway, and they want Jack Taylor to get involved. A drug pusher, a rapist, a loan shark, all targeted in what look like vigilante attacks. And the killer is writing to Jack, signing their name: C-33. Jack has had enough. He doesn’t need the money, and doesn’t want to get involved. But when his friend Stewart gets drawn in, it seems he isn’t been given a choice. In the meantime, Jack is being courted by Reardon, a charismatic billionaire intent on buying up much of Galway, and begins a tentative relationship with Reardon’s PR director, Kelly. Caught between heaven and hell, there’s only one path for Jack Taylor to take: Purgatory.
Ken Bruen, being a personal favourite of mine, would mean that I could wax lyrical for hours about Purgatory, the tenth outing for Jack Taylor, a man destined for melancholy punctuated by acts of random violence. I could draw attention to the pitch perfect characterisation of Jack, with his regular mounting and dismounting of the wagon of physical pleasures, the booze and the fags, and his less than harmonious forays into the pleasures of the flesh. Always the wrong woman Jack. I could highlight the intrinsic morality buried deep in his soul, that manifests itself at times in observations of an almost lyrical beauty and his steadfast engagement with books, culture and current events that Bruen effortlessly weaves into the plot. At the same time it would be foolish to ignore the dark side of our erstwhile hero though, and the black places he inhabits mentally, and gets taken to, in the demands of this case all beautifully rendered by the sparsity yet richness of Bruen’s language which ebbs and flows with laconic perfection throughout Jack’s travails. I could mention the twisted, yet ultimately affectionate, relationship between Jack and his native Galway, as the seedier aspects of this community and those that wish to exploit it, come to bear in this tale of avarice and murder…
Or I could keep it simple in a homage to Jack himself with his honest, sweary nature and gravitation to the simple pronouncement. Purgatory? Feckin’ great.
Ken Bruen was born in Galway, Ireland. After turning down a place at RADA, and completing a doctorate in Metaphysics, he spent 25 years as an English teacher in Africa, Japan, South East Asia and South America. An unsheduled stint in a Brazilian prison where he suffered physical and mental abuse spurred him to write and, after a brief spell teaching in London, he returned to Galway, where he now lives with his daughter.
(With thanks to Transworld Ireland for the ARC)