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Headstone (Jack Taylor #9)

3.99 of 5 stars 3.99  ·  rating details  ·  662 ratings  ·  91 reviews
Acclaimed Irish crime writer Ken Bruen has won numerous awards for his hard-charging, dark thrillers, which have been translated into ten languages. In Headstone, an elderly priest is nearly beaten to death and a special-needs boy is brutally attacked. Evil has many guises and Jack Taylor has encountered most of them. But nothing before has ever truly terrified him until h ...more
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published October 4th 2011 by Mysterious Press
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Shadow Roll by Ki LongfellowGood Dog, Bad Dog by Ki LongfellowThe Girl in the Next Room by Ki LongfellowAmerican Tabloid by James EllroyCaught Stealing by Charlie Huston
Best Noir of the 21st Century
26th out of 140 books — 279 voters
Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead by Sara GranThe Sentry (Joe Pike #3) by Robert CraisCrooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom FranklinHeadstone by Ken BruenFeast Day of Fools by James Lee Burke
Bast Books of 2011
4th out of 16 books — 10 voters

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Community Reviews

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The most brutal and brilliant of the Jack Taylor series, HEAD STONE, the 9th book in the series elevates Taylor to a whole new level - one where his demons escape his maddened mind and find their way towards the surface.

Jack is pursued by a gang calling themselves Headstone, their purpose to eradicate the perceived ‘weak’ in Darwinism like fashion – targeting special needs people, drunks, druggies, and homosexuals. For Jack, his inner circle all feel the brunt of this senseless violence, natura
Gloria Feit
What could be more fitting on the eve of St. Patrick’s Day than to read the ninth book in the Jack Taylor series, perhaps as good as they come. It is a kick-off novel from a new imprint of Grove/Atlantic, Otto Penzler’s Mysterious Press, and serves well as a guide to the future.

As in the previous volumes in the series, the troubled Irish PI wallows in drinks and drugs, violence and evil. It begins with the brutal beating of a priest, where no love is lost between Jack and the victim. Then Jack,
Kealan Burke
I was thrown a little by the supernatural ambiguity of DEVIL, but there's none of that here, and HEADSTONE is a return to the sleek, balls-to-the-wall staccato noir Bruen does so well. This is one of my favorites in the series.
Ken Bruen has redeemed himself with this addition to the Jack Taylor series after the experiment with the over the top previous book in the series.

Once you introduce "the devil" as the antagonist into a detective series it could have been a struggle to recover. Mr. Bruen blames it on the Xanax.

In this installment of the series the antagonist calls himself "Headstone", a character that Jack Taylor had a run in with in his past.

Taylor is an Irish PI who loves his whiskey and loves Ireland he is
This book was really brilliant in the ways that count in a book like this. Jack Taylor was a strong voice,great black humor,the social commentary on Ireland which is common in this series and his friends Stewart,Ridge was great as supporting cast. I also liked that for the first time in this series, you read the story from POV of other characters than first person Taylor. That was fresh,different take.

It feels weird to think he wrote the best book in this series in the 9th book. I rate this one
Ozzie Cheek
In HEADSTONE, like other novels by Ken Bruen, the prose lifts off the page and sings for the reader. Bruen is a great stylist. If Cormac Mccarthy co-wrote a book with James Lee Burke, it would come out a Ken Bruen novel. Bruen is easy to read, but his stories and his characters always leave me feeling slightly soiled, like I've just peeked in the dresser drawers while visiting a friend's house. And that is the lighter side of a Ken Bruen book. Bruen's main character, Jack Taylor, is an alcoholic ...more
No one writes a flawed character better that Ken Bruen. Jack Taylor is an alcoholic, pill popping ex Guard in Galway, Ireland. He has a caustic tongue but a heart of gold. His nemesis, Father Malachy, is assaulted and ends up in a coma. Soon after, Jack is assaulted and two of his fingers cut off. Someone is mailing his friends tiny tombstones identical to one Jack had received. He realizes someone is targeting what they consider to be social misfits: Jack’s friends, Ridge and Stewart who are ga ...more
Another violent and mind bending book by Ken Bruen featuring the down and trodden Jack Taylor. In this book Jack continues his downward spiral into his own soul. He is once again forced to make decisions that have dire consequences. Bruen pushes this book further than any of his other Jack Taylor books when he puts Jack into a situation where he is forced to walk with evil or save his own life. Drink, drugs and self-remorse for so many of the events in Jack's past are the continuing theme in thi ...more
Robert Intriago
Oct 25, 2011 Robert Intriago rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Mohammed, Larry
Shelves: crime-noir, 2011
After I finish a "Jack Taylor" novel by Ken Bruen, I say to myself: the next novel can not get any darker. This one does and is probably one of his better ones. It has everything a "crime noir" novel needs to have to be great. Great dialogue, truly evil bad people, a truly flawed and screwed up good guy, a great setting and a couple of great sidekicks: Ridge and Stewart.

In this story a former nemesis of Taylor reappers to carry out his own version of Darwinism. Along the way Taylor deals with a
Minty McBunny
I'm afraid this series may be........................
past its sell-by date.

First off, what on earth is up with...................
all the ellipses? It took enough to grow accustomed to Jack's


list-making. But now, 9 books in, Bruen's finger has got stuck on the period key. It's not charming.

The Headstone group came off as unrealistic and the lack of Guard or media interest in the killings (or at least the lack of mention of a ame) felt off. Jack had some fine moments
Kasa Cotugno
It's been a while since I've sought out and read an entire series back to back -- not since the Banks noels of Peter Robinson. These Jack Taylor novels, with one exception, were totally addictive. By setting them in Galway, Bruen gives us witness to its change from a remote Irish community to one fully in the 21st century, changes not aways to the good. With big city problems. Jack Taylor, approaching 50, lifelong resident, does not aways wrap up cases at the end of each book, rendering the seri ...more
May 16, 2012 Tuck rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: noir
pretty creepy that author bruen presaged the norwegian slaughter of 2011 (or did he?, i'd be curious to know which came first, "head stone" or breivik) and yes yes, i know some hold bruen with a certain amount of disdain as a great author and story teller, but i just eat it up like a jay and a pint, puts me where i can be, if not happy, at least numb. galway is in the grip of a homegrown terror group who use charles darwin as their text and colombine killers as their antecedents. so out to kill ...more
I almost didn't finish this one. Ken Bruen's style of writing is abrupt and hard to follow. I'm glad I did though, because the story was good, if frustrating. He never really reveals everything, so you're left to fill in a lot by yourself. There are about 20 different languages he throws in there for reasons I'm not sure of. However, I enjoyed the characters. I only wish I had read some of the other Jack Taylor novels first. That seems to always be a problem for me. When I go to the library, I w ...more
Felix Zilich
Джек Тейлор готов навсегда покинуть Ирландию. Она - американка, литератор, пишет детективы. Любит его, дурака; он её тоже. Но перед отбытием в Лондон сыщик приезжает к себе в Голуэй, чтобы завершить дела. С сентиментальной фотографией в портмоне и цепочкой из Междугорья на шее.

Неизвестные гопники забили здесь на днях до полусмерти отца Малахая. Он живой, но в коме. Неизвестные гопники, тем временем, дальше проповедуют свой примитивный социал-дарвинизм. Называют свою банду “Headstone”. Нападают
Kat Duncan
An excellent thriller, dark and totally scary. The writing is so understated and the prose so expertly done that it leaves you reeling in shock at what's happening in the story. A fantastic read if you love dark, thrillers. Not gory, bloody, but psychologically scary and riveting. The language of place and the insights into local world view are bonuses on top of the great characters and story.
Jack Taylor, PI, is a colorful rogue, a drunk who has weathered the incongruencies of his own life and collected his share of enemies. Knocking back his whiskey of choice, Taylor provides no end of insights into Irish culture, troubled history and the pervasive influence of Holy Mother Church on the population. For all the enemies he has made along the way- and they are many and bitter- Jack remains the go-to investigator, formerly on the force, whose wily methods and willingness to do harm when ...more
A. Mary
Jack returns to form, getting duped on a case and the outcome is a dead priest who does not deserve to be dead. He gets duped elsewhere and as a result, he crosses his own lines, does something he would never have done, no matter how low he sank. But in between his terrible mistakes, is the central case of the novel. There's some terrorising going on, a tiny cult taking shape, planning something that will make them famous, and Taylor has to fit it all together before it happens. He has a very te ...more
Chris Lytle
Ken Bruen delivers a classic anti-hero in the severely flawed, yet resilient, Jack Taylor. Although I may have picked up this now well-established series further along and was unfamiliar with Jack's full backstory, Bruen thankfully shares just enough info to set stage. The dialogue heavy text moves the plot along very quickly, a style that while uncomfortable at first, eventually becomes easy to appreciate. The themes of a corrupt priesthood, police force and youth in a now sedated Celtic Tiger ...more
Amanda - Go Book Yourself
Jesus, I thought I'd never finish this book. Everything got in the way. Well not everything, just work.

I picked this book up during a random Tesco shopping trip. I sometimes find random gems among the shelves. However I hate when you buy a book and then realise that it's the millionth book in the series. Still, I wanted to give it ago as I haven't read any crime by an Irish author before.

After finishing read some reviews and thought that I must have been reading a completely different book. I th
Quite a few of us like hanging out with Jack Taylor, and have done so for many of the nine novels in which he has featured. We like Jack – Galway’s limping, half-deaf, alcoholic, occasional detective – for being a battler, for the pain he's suffered (the lost surrogate son, Cody, the childhood beatings), and for the code he follows, of the ‘law being for courtrooms and justice being for alleyways’. But how many of us would really enjoy having him as a friend?

Because Jack has a dark side, as this
Ann Collette
If you're a fan of Ken Bruen's work, even knowing how erratic his books are, you still automatically read whatever he writes. Though the plots may be lightweight or strain credulity, his work is addictive, thanks to the great terse prose, the dry wit, the distinctive formating that gives the writing such immediacy, and the keen awareness of the changing face of Ireland. The Jack Taylor series itself may be undependable but the character is consistent in his self-sabotaging, brutal ways. In this ...more
HEAD STONE. (2011). Ken Bruen. ****.
This is the latest in Bruen’s Jack Taylor series of crime/mayhem novels. In this episode, Taylor and several of his friends receive a card with the word “Headstone” on it. They soon find out that this is the name of a new organization whose aims are terror and death, but we don’t yet know how. We soon learn that the Headstone group is composed of their leader, Bine, a Goth girl, and two stooges. They start their campaign by badly beating a priest, who ends up
Dark, disturbing, different, and depressing. I'd heard much about Ken Bruen and his Irish mysteries. Very different. They make Ian Rankin's Rebus series set in Scotland look positively sunny and cheerful. Jack Taylor of Galway is a former cop, an alcoholic, and a guy you can usually rely on in a crisis. He's got a flip sense of humor and has anti-hero written all over him. He does good. He does bad. There's the usual Irish stereotypes brought up to date to contemporary Ireland plus all the frict ...more
Kathy Davie
Ninth in the Jack Taylor suspense series based in Galway, Ireland and based on an alcoholic, drug-addicted, good-hearted private investigator tossed out of the Garda years ago.

My Take
This is the most depressing one yet of Bruen's Jack Taylor series with the losses surrounding Jack and the warped interpretation of Darwin's survival of the fittest by the Headstone gang. It's also a pretty good reason to reinstate the death penalty!

As usual with Jack, it's a mess of drugs and alcohol throughout
"I'm almost afraid to voice it but I think he's close to happy"

The words on the title of this review were said by Stewart, and he is talking about no other than Jack Taylor, our beloved main character, who is always battling inner demons and seems to have the worst luck anyone has ever had. Jack has finally given up on going to America and is enjoying a relationship with a lovely woman from that country. Things are looking up, but as readers of the series probably can guess, there is trouble in
What is a former cop to do when he gets a medical discharge off the force? Become a private investigator, of course. Jack Taylor is one of the best, always was, but his gimpy leg and hearing aid have left him with a thirst for adventure and a bottle of Jameson.
Taylor seems to have annoyed everyone he ever came in contact with, from the clergy and the nuns to his former employers, to the criminals he helped put behind bars, all who seem to go out of their way to great him as maliciously as possib
Ken Bruen's latest (at the time of writing) Jack Taylor novel is good but not great. Former member of the Garda Taylor has been much abused in prior entries in the series, and this abuse does not stop here (at one point, he is tortured by having fingers removed).

In this novel, Taylor is pitted against a group of thugs who call themselves 'Headstone': a trio of disaffected youths led by a Charles Manson-like figure. The group set themselves against those who they perceive as weak, whilst Taylor
Am besten ist es, die Jack Taylor Romane von Ken Bruen in chronologischer Reihenfolge zu lesen. Daran habe ich mich in diesem Fall nicht gehalten, sondern nach dem vierten nun gleich das neunte Buch Headstone gelesen. Es gibt mehrere Verweise auf die vorhergehenden Bände. Der Schwan-Killer aus The Killing of the Tinkers spielt hier eine Rolle. Jack Taylor ist nach seinem letzten Fall mit dem Teufel körperlich nicht unversehrt geblieben, doch er hat sich in eine amerikanische Krimischriftstelleri ...more
Jack Taylor is not your average P.I. 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 losses 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
Tim Niland
Jack Taylor is back! I am thrilled to no end to see one of my favorite crime fiction series continue, because with the amount of abuse and torment Jack receives in each book, I expect it to be his last. This time the drug addicted, demon haunted, alcoholic unlicensed private eye faces one of his toughest foes. A group called Headstone, inspired by the Columbine massacre, decides to rid Galway of what they consider undesirables: priests, homosexuals, the developmentally disabled and alcoholics. A ...more
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Ken Bruen, born in Galway in 1951, is the author of The Guards (2001), the highly acclaimed first Jack Taylor novel. He spent twenty-five years as an English teacher in Africa, Japan, S.E. Asia and South America. His novel Her Last Call to Louis Mac Niece (1997) is in production for Pilgrim Pictures, his "White Trilogy" has been bought by Channel 4, and The Guards is to be filmed in Ireland by De ...more
More about Ken Bruen...

Other Books in the Series

Jack Taylor (1 - 10 of 11 books)
  • The Guards (Jack Taylor, #1)
  • The Killing Of The Tinkers (Jack Taylor, #2)
  • The Magdalen Martyrs (Jack Taylor, #3)
  • The Dramatist (Jack Taylor, #4)
  • Priest (Jack Taylor, #5)
  • Cross (Jack Taylor, #6)
  • Sanctuary (Jack Taylor, #7)
  • The Devil (Jack Taylor, #8)
  • Purgatory (Jack Taylor, #10)
  • Green Hell: A Jack Taylor Novel

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“He was in his mid-thirties, with a posture that suggested a hundred.” 1 likes
“By the holy, Jack Taylor. I was beginning to think you were a rumor running around as a fact.” 0 likes
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