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The Magdalen Martyrs (Jack Taylor #3)

4.07  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,421 Ratings  ·  94 Reviews
Jack Taylor is walking the delicate edge of a sobriety he doesn't trust when his phone rings. He's in debt to a Galway tough named Bill Cassell, what the locals call a "hard man." Bill did Jack a big favor a while back; the trouble is, he never lets a favor go unreturned.

Jack is amazed when Cassell simply asks him to track down a woman, now either dead or very old, who lon
Paperback, 288 pages
Published February 21st 2006 by Minotaur Books (first published 2003)
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The Big Sleep by Raymond ChandlerThe Maltese Falcon by Dashiell HammettThe Long Goodbye by Raymond ChandlerFarewell, My Lovely by Raymond ChandlerThe Postman Always Rings Twice by James M. Cain
Best Hardboiled PI & Noir
151st out of 527 books — 653 voters
St Patrick's Day Special by J.J. TonerIn the Woods by Tana FrenchPriest by Ken BruenThe Guards by Ken BruenThe Long Game by J.L. Fynn
Irish Crime Fiction
14th out of 87 books — 63 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,182)
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Mar 02, 2015 Josh rated it it was amazing
"I feel the guilt and recriminations still. The line of the dead who accuse me at every turn of sleep, they come in silent dread, the eyes fixed on me as I twist and moan in vain hope of escape.
So I drink."

If there is one author I turn to when I want to read a readers book, it's got to be Ken Bruen. His Jack Taylor series is poetic poison in a purely positive way. His perennial drunk and drug addled private investigator is a book junkies binge of choice. Not only are the Jack Taylor books lace
Mar 23, 2014 Sandy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is book #3 of the Jack Taylor series. If you read the reviews, you'll see they are polarizing novels. Some see them as a celtic noir take on pulp fiction, others find them unrelentingly grim & derivative.
Jack's past is well established & informs his situation & choices. Hopelessly addicted to booze & anything else that blurs his reality, this is a man desperate to forget the past while trying to decide if he wants a future. The books are narrated in the first person, full of
Jan 15, 2015 Daniel rated it really liked it
Ken "Will I ever write a long book? Only if there's a cat in it." Bruen interview snippets:

Probably the best example of a rage-fuelled novel is The Hackman Blues. It's my favourite of your standalones. A wounded animal roar of a book, but you had real trouble getting it published, didn't you?

My agent dropped me because I went ahead with publication, said it would kill my career. I had a letter from her last year saying she was retiring and I wrote back, "Who's going to notice?"

One can't go far i
Nov 29, 2010 Electric rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2010, crime
Auch der dritte Jack Taylor Roman hat alles was ich an dieser Serie so mag: einen ständig am Leben verzeifelnden "Ermittler" der permanent mit dem eigenen Suff, seiner Vergangenheit und den Auswirkungen seiner Taten kämpft. Es wird zwar nie besonders viel ermittelt aber trotzdem schafft es Ken Bruen wieder dass wir alle mit Jack mitfiebern und hoffen dass er sich doch endlich mal auch erholen kann. Sieht aber nicht so aus. Diesmal inklusive: Sadistische Katholiken, enttäuschte Mütter, flüssiges ...more
Nigel Bird
Dec 05, 2013 Nigel Bird rated it it was amazing
Talk of the town just now is Philomena, the movie. It tells the story of a woman who was a victim of one of the wicked manifestations of the Catholic Church. The film looks OK. I may see it one day, perhaps on DVD. However it plays out, I’m pretty sure it won’t be able to shine a prayer-candle to Ken Bruen’s The Magdalen Martyrs.

I loved Jack Taylor before arriving at this novel. It’s difficult not to. He articulates his inner workings with charm, humour and a good deal of learned profundity.

May 20, 2015 Ammar rated it really liked it
Jack Taylor is back. Investigating the death of a rich husband ? Could the wife have killed him ? Jack has to pay back Bill's favor from the last book. Who are those Magdalen girls and why is Bill interested in one of them.

Jack is still at Mrs Bailey hotel. Reading crime fiction. Using drugs more designer stuff this time and pints of beer and double Jameson.

Enjoyable. .smooth and book 4 should be awesome.
Kasa Cotugno
This is the first time in a long time that Ive read three in a row by one author. These are addictive mysteries, with the usual flawed, haunted main character, but this guy lives in Galway, is a former member of the Guards (police), and doesn't always solve the problems put before him. They are so well written and don't follow any formula. Lots of humor. Jack loves to read -- books play a large part in all his stories. As does contemporary music. Well, contemporary to those of us of a certain ag ...more
Jul 27, 2014 Yvonne rated it really liked it
Excellent hard boiled mystery, book 3 in the Jack Taylor series. I found Jack really hard to like in this one, he is on such a course of self destruction I couldn't find anything redeeming about him. But redeem himself he does eventually, in his small acts of kindness and his awakening (again), to what a nasty prick he can be.
He's hooked on booze and pills, hanging by a thread. He's hired to find a woman who worked in the Magdalen laundries, where Irish girls and women were abused and tormented
Sep 29, 2009 Mohammed rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: noir, ken-bruen
The Third Jack Taylor book show Bruen is still brilliant,lyrical,lean,mean. This series is so bleak but also grimly hilarious. I laughed at the dark humor.
Jack Taylor is sad,pathetic because you care for him.

Its far from any PI Noir there is, more like a Jim Thompson book if he wrote so much about a city,its people. The personal history of Jack Taylor,Galway are what the books are about much than a PI that solves cases.

Jul 31, 2014 Fanficfan44 rated it really liked it
I love Ken Bruen’s character, Jack Taylor, and have watched all the episodes available to me on Acorn TV, including the Magdalen episode. There were a few differences from the book and the TV show but I enjoyed them both. I liked the literary references that seem much more prominent in this book than the previous ones in the series. There is even reference to this being a pathology of Jack’s, retreating into examination of the literary world. This book centers on the infamous Magdalen laundry, t ...more
Mar 10, 2016 Laura rated it really liked it
I LOVE Ken Bruen. If you read these things for the actual mystery, these might not be for you, but if you read for character and atmosphere, they should most definitely be for you. Jack Taylor is one messed up guy and, to be honest, when I started this one, the third in the series and the third I've read, I worried that I might be tired of living for a few more hours with a laconic Irish former-cop multiple substance user but I love him. He's funny, reads widely and knows music and pop culture ( ...more
Felix Zilich
Feb 18, 2014 Felix Zilich rated it really liked it
Shelves: crime, irish-luck
В первой книге Джек Тейлор бухал по-черному, во второй – сидел на коксе, в третьей – начал употреблять вещества и теперь окончательно потерял связь с реальностью. Бродит по Голуэю, разговаривает с несуществующими людьми, раздумывает над суицидом.

В начале романа Джек приходит в сознание на больничной койке после приступа белой горячки. Врачи говорят: бросай пить – иначе подохнешь. Билл Касселл говорит: с тебя должок, Джекки, найди для меня человечка. Старую монахиню из всем известного приюта свя
Jan 16, 2016 Daniela rated it really liked it
Shelves: crime
Another classic Jack Taylor. This is perfect Irish crime noir, with a great ear for dialogue. It's about a very dark and sinister chapter in Irish history, the Magdalen laundries, and about revenge for what's happened there. My only criticism would be that Jack lets other people do ALL his detective work for him, himself being constantly high on various drugs. He even misses out on some crucial information because of this, and as a reader you're more than one step ahead of him. Makes you wonder ...more
Jun 17, 2015 JAC rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Your life is in some bizarre state when priests are throwing abuse at you on the street

If Charles Bukowski had been a cop, he would have been Jack Taylor. Drunk, nihilistic, charming and highly unpredictable; Taylor is back on the scene in Galway and is, as the blurb describes, 'walking the delicate edge of sobriety', when Bill Cassell calls up that favour Jack owes him from the last book. Cassell gets Jack caught up in the horrible, traumatising legacy of the Magdalen laundry that only closed
Sue Mccormack
Feb 28, 2016 Sue Mccormack rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
This is my third Jack Taylor story by Ken Bruen. The length is closer to that of a novella and you can read one in one sitting. The style is spare and not much on scene - they are dialogue driven. Jack is a self-actualized drunk - he is aware of his limits and his pain - but he is also a dangerous man with almost no impulse control. But the man does have a certain style - I am intrigued by his reading choices - I like the Merton but not the Pelicanos so much - Block is a toss-up; it is also fitt ...more
Heidi Gonzalez
Sep 18, 2012 Heidi Gonzalez rated it it was ok
I thought I would spend a little more time with Jack Taylor and I'm not sure I'm happy I did. This series is dark and not in a spooky, creepy kind of way, just a sad, lonely depressing kind of way. I'm not sure how much longer I can stomach this series but I have two more books so I will tackle those and hope there is some redemption.

Jack is a broken man, and if the alcohol doesn't kill him, someone else surely will. He used to be a good cop now he just stumbles through life making drastic mist
Nancy Oakes
Apr 22, 2008 Nancy Oakes rated it really liked it
Third in the series featuring Jack Taylor, Magdalen Martyrs continues the story of the ex-Guard. In this installment, his old nemesis Bill Galway, a local tough guy no one wants to mess with, is calling in his debt (you had to have read the earlier books to understand what I mean). Cassell didn't ask for payment from Jack when he did him an earlier favor, but now he's calling in his marker. It seems he wants the whereabouts of one Rita Monroe, who used to work in a Magdalen laundry (read about t ...more
Apr 26, 2010 Maddy rated it liked it
Shelves: 2005-reads
RATING: 3.25
SETTING: Galway, Ireland

THE MAGDALEN MARTYRS is the third in the Jack Taylor series, a superbly well-written set of books by Irish author Ken Bruen. At one time, Jack was a member of the Irish Guard ("Garda"), but his own self-destructive impulses led to his expulsion from that organization. He is constantly battling with his own demons and his addictions to alcohol and various drugs. At times, he is successful and cleans himself up; but it seem
Kathleen Hagen
The Magdalen Martyrs, by Ken Bruen, A-minus. Narrated by Gerry O’Brien, produced by Isis Audio, downloaded from

Jack Taylor is embittered, sober but just barely keeping sober, and has decided to give up the “finding” business. But he is asked by the local “hard guy” to whom he owes a favor, to find a nun, referred to as a saint, who helped women prisoners assigned to the laundry. But the nun was a sadist who greatly hurt people. Jack feels he is being set up because the nun was not t
Mark Desrosiers
Feb 25, 2010 Mark Desrosiers rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
These Jack Taylor novels are relentlessly grim, fueled by drugs and booze, a blinkered antihero, and no clear purpose other than to reflect life's general lack of deeper meaning. In fact, Jack's constant citing of books he loves -- basically fronting Ken Bruen's own geeky enthusiasms -- often becomes the sole "moral" anchor of the plot. Well, let me tell you something, this book's nutzoid plot starts out with obvious demons, but toward the end Bruen is enthusiastically quoting both Kahlil Gibran ...more
Nov 13, 2013 Tim rated it it was amazing
It's been a while since I finished this and I always find it a little difficult for some reason to express my feelings about Ken Bruen's Jack Taylor books. Maybe it's because Jack Taylor shouldn't be likable, yet he is. Or maybe it's because I can't fathom why anyone would come to Jack and pay him money to solve a problem, yet they do. (And let's ot even mention the attractive women who get caught up with such a loser!) Or maybe it's because Jack is such a total,screw-up he should never be able ...more
May 09, 2012 Monica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the third book in Ken Bruen’s Jack Taylor series. And I am addicted to these books! Fast paced, full of suspense, laced with despair, hard-core crime, and the dark side of humanity. Wrap all of this up together and you have a Ken Bruen book that you don’t want to put down once you read the first page. This series is my new go-to when I just want to read and be fully entertained.

Jacket notes: “In the third Jack Taylor novel from acclaimed crime writer Ken Bruen, Jack has sunk to all new l
Tim Niland
Dec 17, 2013 Tim Niland rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2013-reads
At their peak, the Magdalen laundries in Ireland housed/detained thousands of "fallen women" and were famous for their brutality toward their inmates. Jack Taylor is tasked to find one of the most sadistic of the wardens, by a crime boss whom you cannot say no to under the pretext of finding the woman that had helped his mother. Jack's mind is quickly focused by a brutal game of Russian roulette in the dingy basement of the crime bosses lair. Attempting to manage a menagerie of addictions and co ...more
Minty McBunny
Jul 10, 2014 Minty McBunny rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2014, july-2014
These books are definitely an acquired taste, and not for everyone. They are sparse, gritty street poetry, Ken Bruen doesn't waste a word. They are not traditional crime/detective novels by any means, Jack's personal struggles and relationships take center stage, they are more character studies of a deeply flawed ex-Garda set against a backdrop of criminal activity. I can't get enough of them.
Alan Markey
Oct 10, 2014 Alan Markey rated it it was amazing
I am just so glad I've discovered these books. They can be bleak but, unfortunately, that is the life the majority of Bruen's characters are living. Bruen really gets you inside the head of Jack Taylor and now I'm starting to understand how erratic and unpredictable the life of an alcoholic can be...pass me the bottle and I'm gonna read some of 'jacks' recommended literature.
Gregg Shoemaker
Book one was ba book two was better and this, book three, is slightly better. The ending looks as if book four will be an even better written book. One can only hope. Had i not had the 5 books by this author that I do i would have NEVER read past the first book. But I am pleasantly surprised by these last two I read and am hopeful that number four THE DRAMATIST will continue this trend of improving enjoyment.
May 30, 2016 Lorlee rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Third in the series. Jack is asked to find a woman who worked at the Magdalen house by a man to whom he owes a favor. Also is hired to find out if a woman killed her husband.

Through is drug and liquor addled state he manages to bring everything to resolution.

I enjoy the literary and song references but have a difficult time with his death wish.
Aug 03, 2009 Bob rated it liked it
Not sure what to make of this one. Not really a mystery or a suspense novel, but more like a period in the life of an ex guardsman in Galway named Jack Taylor. He is a some time private detective who has some bad habits, alcohol and coke and pharmaceuticals being the main ones. A big time crook come to him to a job to repay a outstanding debt and he becomes involved in some shady dealings having to do with the old Catholic establishments for wayward girls that were little more than slave camps r ...more
Sep 17, 2015 Jc rated it it was amazing
Back to the level of The Guards, Jack Taylor's third adventure is a wonderful, and superbly Irish, tale. Bruen seems to enjoy writing these almost as much as his fans enjoy reading them. And, as a bonus, the reader always gets to learn of some new things to read, as Taylor muses on his own love of books. I already have #4 on my shelf.
Nov 02, 2009 Ellen rated it it was amazing
Jack Taylor falls off the wagon as he searches for a woman who was a former employee of the Magdalen laundry, where young women who'd gotten into trouble, worked off their sins and debts to society. As he searches for Rita Monroe, he also enjoys the company of a cold-blooded killer and a few rough boys from the wrong side of Galway. As usual, the story is pitted with great quotes from different books that Jack has read - these form a trail that some readers may want to follow independent of read ...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 12 books)
  • The Guards (Jack Taylor, #1)
  • The Killing Of The Tinkers (Jack Taylor, #2)
  • The Dramatist (Jack Taylor, #4)
  • Priest (Jack Taylor, #5)
  • Cross (Jack Taylor, #6)
  • Sanctuary (Jack Taylor, #7)
  • The Devil (Jack Taylor, #8)
  • Headstone (Jack Taylor, #9)
  • Purgatory (Jack Taylor, #10)
  • Green Hell (Jack Taylor, #11)

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“Your life is in some bizarre state when priests are throwing abuse at you on the street.” 7 likes
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