James Thane's Reviews > The Guards

The Guards by Ken Bruen
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Oct 07, 2011

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bookshelves: crime-fiction

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 recently lost her daughter, Sarah. The girl's death has been ruled a suicide, but Ann cannot accept that and asks Taylor to look into it. He agrees and quickly discovers that several other young women have also apparently committed suicide at the same spot. In and around some serious bouts of drinking and a couple of hospitalizations, Jack investigates Sarah's death, determined to provide some closure for the girl's mother. As is always the case in a book like this, he winds up getting more than he bargained for.

This is the first in a series of books featuring Jack Taylor and it includes any number of classic crime novel clichés, most notably the alcoholic cop who becomes the alcoholic P.I., leaving the reader to wonder no only whether Taylor will solve the case, but whether he will get sober and whether he will stay sober if he ever does. The character is strongly reminiscent of Lawrence Block's Matthew Scudder who, in the early stages of his career as a P.I., met clients in bars and livened up his morning coffee with booze. Bruen also goes a bit overboard in his attempt to show how widely-read and musically hip Jack Taylor is, but those qualms aside, this is a well-written book with a number of engaging characters. It remains to be seen if Jack Taylor will have a career as long and as successful as Matthew Scudder, but The Guards is a promising start.
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Reading Progress

October 7, 2011 – Shelved
Started Reading
June 18, 2012 – Shelved as: crime-fiction
June 18, 2012 – Finished Reading

Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Tfitoby (new)

Tfitoby If he's as drunk he sounds I'm surprised he reads at all.

David Dominguez I've read a lot of Ken Bruen's books so I can't recommend him highly enough. Jack Taylor grows on you in pretty quick time. I enjoyed The Guards and I recommend it to others.

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