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The Guards (Jack Taylor #1)

3.92 of 5 stars 3.92  ·  rating details  ·  2,655 ratings  ·  272 reviews
Still stinging from his unceremonious ouster from the Garda Síochána—the Guards, Ireland’s police force—and staring at the world through the smoky bottom of his beer mug, Jack Taylor is stuck in Galway with nothing to look forward to. In his sober moments Jack aspires to become Ireland’s best private investigator, not to mention its first—Irish history, full of betrayal an ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published 2004 by Dingle (first published 2001)
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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 Noir
45th out of 464 books — 516 voters
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New School of Noir
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Community Reviews

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I found this book to be




(Insert a random passage from some other mystery novel here.)

The main character is the jaw-dropping original (yeah, right)




(Insert lyrics from a random song here.)

The writer's style of using lists is




(Insert more random quotes here for no discernable reason other than to pump up the word count.)

I will be reading more of this author when

pigs fly

Hell freezes over


Never mind. You g
James Thane
Jack Taylor has been thrown out of the Irish police force--the Garda Siochana--because his drinking got out of control. Ireland has virtually no private investigators because of the cultural abhorrence of informers, so Jack becomes the next best thing. He is an expert at finding things, that is when he can climb off of his bar stool long enough to take a job. Then one day a beautiful woman walks into the Galway pub where Jack hangs his hat and asks to hire him.

The woman, whose name is Ann, has r
Lisa (Harmonybites)
Feb 18, 2011 Lisa (Harmonybites) rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Hard-boiled Mystery Fans
This is hard-boiled private detective with an Irish lilt--and alcoholic slur. Jack Taylor was once in the Garda Siochana--the Irish police--but self-destructed with the aid of drink. As he himself describes his life and behavior, "I could say it was the booze, but that's not true. There's a self-destruct button in me. I keep returning to it." He does--throughout the book, and the novel is as much about that--in fact more about that--than his investigation of a young teen who seemingly committed ...more
It isn't often that you get to read a book by someone who writes in a completely original manner, yet is still intelligible. Ken Bruen has such an interesting writing style and gets so much across with so few words, that I was kept turning pages just from enjoying his style. That said, the stories are also great in the manner of hard-boiled ex-cop alcoholic down-and-out private eyes. His other book that I have read, The White Trilogy, was a little harder to get into but worthwhile once I was the ...more
I liked it. It is quirky and dark and poetic. Set in Galway Ireland, it has the flavor and language of the Irish culture which I find fascinating. It is a tale of addiction, alcohol and violence but it also has a poignant feel to the characters expressed in the poetry vignettes at the beginning of each rather short chapter.
(view spoiler)
Ron Hummer
Jack Taylor was a member of The Guards - Ireland’s National Police Service - until he is kicked out for various infractions that included punching a member of the Parliament in the mouth. Now that he is a private detective, he is hired by Ann Henderson to look into the death of her daughter, which police said was a suicide.
If you’re expecting a mystery where Taylor will solve this mystery, he does that but it doesn’t seem to take a lot of effort. The Guards is not a mystery where we’ll be won
A good book. By an obviously skilled writer. But flawed in its choices. The book has a great reputation, a Shamus Award Winner, but I don't think I saw what those other readers saw. To me, it was good, not great.

More Bukowski than Chandler. To call this a Private Eye novel is a stretch, as his profession (like his "case") is an afterthought. I liked that aspect of it. To put the genre story on the fringes and to let it be about something else.

But the book was just too thin. Don't let the 280 pag
The blurbs on the back of Ken Bruen's novel The Guards are impressive: Boston Teran, James Crumley, and T. Jefferson Parker, who all weigh in with thumbs up. And these are wonderful writers who have written fine books that I really admire. So I'm mystified over their enthusiasm. In contrast, what I found in The Guards was a loosely told story about a drunk cop who pretty much stays that way. Oh, there's a story nibbling around the edges regarding some missing women and the bad men who did them i ...more
Minty McBunny
At first I found this book




but then in spite of myself, I started to like Jack, warts and all, and had to smile at his affectations and his horrible, flawed behaviors.

I felt like the story was more of a character study than a mystery or thriller, but I liked it that way. What went on in Jack's head and in his life was more interesting to me than the mystery he was investigating. Jack's internal struggles and interpersonal relationships were more compelling than many
Jack Taylor has been kicked out the Gardia and submerged himself into a non-stop series of drinking binges. Making some kind of living as a “person who finds things” -- private eyes being too tinged in Ireland with the suspicion of being an informant, he is approached by Anne Henderson who wants Jack to investigate her daughter Sarah’s ostensible suicide. (“They say you’re good because you have nothing else in your life.”)

A cursory look around has Jack convinced it’s no more than that until he g
Jack Taylor is the only PI in Ireland. The Irish don't really go in for that PI stuff, too close to snitching. Taylor pretty much has to do it, however, because he is a non-functioning alcoholic who was booted from the Guarda (the national Irish police force) for chronic drunkenness (That would take some doing you would think).

This novel is ostensibly a story of Taylor investigating the "suicide" of the daughter of his client. In fact this story is all about Taylor, his alcoholism and the diffi
Are you searching for a proper crime-novel? One where the main character gets a case, starts investigating it, finds clues and in the end solves the case. The main character may be slightly distracted by marital or other relationship troubles and/or a traumatic past but the main focus is clearly the criminal investigation. In that case this is not the book for you.
However, if you don't mind a protagonist who spends most of the time drinking, quoting various books (divided – in my case – into 'by
Ah, Ken Bruen. Some writers plagarise, some writers pay homage, some hint and nod and tip the hat. Ken Bruen's characters just go on about other books all the time, whether it's in-character or not.

Eg, "Have you read Jim Thompson's The Killer Inside Me? It's really good."

I don't know how he gets away with it. Well, actually I suspect I do. He has very good pacing, and his books are very short, which accentuates this - so despite being in places tired and pretentious and inauthentic (this novel
Luca Lesi
"Il brandy di dà il respiro e te lo toglie. Ti toglie la stessa aria che ti da. Non solo, devi alzarti sempre prima per bere fino a essere sobrio in tempo per l'apertura dei pub ... Come mai vuole l'aiuto di un alcolizzato ? Lei si alzò, mi rivolse una occhiata dura, rispose : Mi hanno detto che lei è bravo perché non ha nient'altro nella vita. E se ne andò."
Peccato che Jack Taylor,ex poliziotto, nato dalla penna di Ken Bruen, resti soprattutto un alcolizzato mentre intorno a lui e indipendentem
Jack Taylor is a former Guard on Ireland's police force. It's tough to drag himself away from the bottle long enough to take a case. But he's a bit of a softie and sometimes his curiosity gets the best of him, especially when it seems that somehow the Guards are trying to prevent him from investigating the suicide of a young woman. I usually steer away from the plots involving the theme of the drunk cop or former cop. But there is something about the way Bruen writes that drags you into Taylor's ...more
Tim Niland
Kicked out of The Guards (the Irish Police force) for habitual drunkenness, Jack Taylor has blundered into becoming an unlicensed private investigator in Galway, in the west of Ireland. Contacted by the mother of a young girl who supposedly killed herself, Jack blunders into a web of danger and intrigue that he is totally unprepared for, as he tries to understand the true nature of the girl's death. This is the first in the Jack Taylor series, one of my favorites, and I am re-reading it in prepa ...more
I selected The Guards after watching the Jack Taylor series on Acorn TV. I really enjoyed the tv show and wanted to see what the books were all about. The novel was very well done, it captured the ravages of Jack’s alcoholism, his introspection, his relationship with his mother and the few he counts as friends. The mystery is almost a side story with the focus really being on Jack, what happens to him and because of him and his actions. Violent scenes with starkly written prose set the scene for ...more

An ocean of drink and a small chaser of plot.

Not really a mystery in the usual sense since the culprit (well the one responsible for the ostensible crime) is evident early on. The protagonist spends much of the novel drinking, recovering from drinking, or attempting to refrain from drinking. The reader's interest in this subject will determine their enjoyment of the book.

Don't be fooled by the positive blurb by James Crumley on the back; The Guards is nowhere near as good as any of his books.
Don Winslow ha inserito questo libro nella sua personale classifica delle cinque top crime novel: avendo letto tre titoli su cinque, e avendoli trovati più che notevoli, mi sono fidato del consiglio di Don e ho cercato questo romanzo di Ken Bruen, che in italiano si chiama molto banalmente ‘Prima della notte,’, mentre in originale è ‘The Guards’, essendo Garda la polizia irlandese, di fama alquanto dubbia.

Ho fatto bene ad ascoltare il Don.
Mi sono trovato immerso in un noir in pie
Almost pure dialog and action, this is the tale of a shit-faced Galway drunk, drummed out of the Guards (an Irish police force, I gather) and reduced to a sort of half-assed detective. Yes, shades of Ian Rankin, with a bit of THE DEPARTED underneath --- the fatalism of a drunk and an Irishman, applied the hunt for a creepy pedophile that is somehow tied up with both criminals and cops. My kind of mystery. Literary allusions, too. What more could you want?
Filippo Bossolino
Considerato uno dei migliori cinque noir di sempre da parte di Don Winslow. Così me lo sono procurato. Senza mai averne sentito parlare prima, né dell'autore, né del romanzo. Ritengo il giudizio precedente esagerato, a meno che la traduzione in italiano non lo abbia demolito. Capiamoci, Prima della notte non è affatto male; storia interessante, ben scritta e alcol tema quasi centrale… Peccato che sia un po' inconcludente; io penso che l'autore non abbia voluto scrivere nella maniera più classica ...more
Felix Zilich
“В Ирландии нет частных детективов. Ирландцы такого не потерпят. Почему-то для них частный детектив – почти то же самое, что стукач. Здесь можно делать почти всё, но стучать нельзя… Я не выходил на улицу и не кричал “Господь решил сделать меня сыщиком” – ему было совершенно плевать. Ведь есть Господь, и есть его ирландский вариант… Просто из-за моей прошлой карьеры считалось, что у меня есть связи. Что я знаю, как все происходит. Иногда меня разыскивали и просили помочь. Иногда мне везло и я пом ...more
Herb Hastings
The writing is crisp and clean. His ability to weave a very deep story with few words reminds me of Cormac McCarthy. This book is the first in a series featuring Jack Taylor a disgraced former policeman battling booze and personal demons. He sounds like a dozen other broken detectives but he is filtered through modern Irish culture. Anyone raised Irish Catholic will feel the rhythm of the language and taste the grief and the guilt that many of us carry around.

The plot revolves around Taylor's s
Patrick O'Neil
A drunk Irish ex-cop. A drunk Irish ex-cop that becomes a private detective. A drunk Irish ex-cop private detective that tries to stop drinking, but he can't. And then there's a murder. But it's a suicide. There's a love interest. Except it doesn't happen - because he can't stop drinking. Plus she's related to the victim/possible suicide/sexually abused woman/girl. Awh fook, the whole bleeding damn thing is confusing. And then, just to make it even more so, there's a priest. His mum. A dead Da. ...more
Zakariah Johnson
Dogged Irish Private Eye Jack Taylor would make a good bloodhound. This is not because he's brilliant or clever, but because Jack has drunk his life away to the point he no longer cares enough about himself, his future or his personal safety to ever stop following his quarry, no matter the cost. He'd risk everything for a pat on the head, but he doesn't even want that. Drink, naturally, makes him hopelessly ineffective in stringing clues together, but even a blind dog can flush a pheasant in the ...more
This hard boiled crime fiction is set in Ireland. I love the Irish craic and the unspoken Irish culture that only the Irish know but could't explain that permeate this book.

Jack Taylor's full time job is drinking, and he is also a private investigator.
"There are no private eyes in Ireland. The Irish wouldn't wear it. The concept brushes perilously close to the hated informer. You can get away with most anything except telling."

Jack is an ex-guarda - Irelands police force. "It's almost impossible
Bob Price
I think that it is a rule that detectives in Ireland must be (a) drunk and (b) depressed. Jack Taylor is both of these...and we read about it...a lot.

Told from the first person POV, The Guardstells the story of Jack's involvement with the case of a young woman who is thought to have committed suicide. The woman's mother doesn't believe it and hires Jack to investigate the crime.

Like Holy Orders, this book seems to have no interest in the murder investigation. Instead, we are treated to Jack's pr
Shirley Schwartz
This is the first book in the Jack Taylor series. I had seen the television series earlier this year, and I wanted to read this book to see if I enjoyed it as much as the TV series. The answer is a resounding yes. Jack Taylor knows Galway, Ireland like John Rebus knows his Edinburgh. And Jack Taylor thinks he does his best work while he's blind-drunk, until he decides to sober up when it comes to crunch time when solving a case. Then he solves the case in Jack Taylor style. Bruen's writing style ...more
J.A. Callan
Meet Jack Taylor - on the wrong side of forty, burnt out cop, raging alcoholic and alone, save for a psychotic pal named Sutton, and a young punk rocker girl who he saved from an abusive boyfriend one night.

Taylor has the reputation around the intimate streets of Galway as being something of a private investigator. When he is not submerged in alcohol and the regrets of the past, he can put his mind to any case and solve it. A mother invokes his help in helping her clear her daughter's name - she
A pretty dark, grim read, but at the same time funny and very enjoyable. This was my first Ken Bruen book, but it won't be my last. I really enjoyed the way he used phrasing and the physical structure of the sentences/words on the page to increase the pacing of the story. This wasn't a particularly suspenseful book, but I found the pacing to be wonderful.
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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...
The Killing Of The Tinkers (Jack Taylor, #2) The Magdalen Martyrs (Jack Taylor, #3) The Dramatist (Jack Taylor, #4) Priest (Jack Taylor, #5) Bust (Max & Angela, #1)

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