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by Ken Bruen
Transworld Ireland, April 2012
336 pages
12.99 GBP
ISBN: 1848271174

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

If you told me I could only read one writer for ever more, it would have to be Ken Bruen. He'd be lousy for lulling you to sleep, but re-reading would never be a hardship, as you'd get something new out of his varied and challenging canon every time. You'd have to keep the lights on when you read, though

His prose is tough but lyrical it reminds me of Harold Pinter's poetry and drama, with throwaway phrases, ellipses and pauses. It's seemingly simple, but impossible to imitate. Anyone trying to pull off what Bruen does would almost certainly fall flat on their face. And the books are violent, but not gory. Bruen knows that less is more and that the most frightening thing for a reader is letting their imagination run riot

HEADSTONE is all of these things and more. If you've kept pace with this series, you'll know that Garda-turned-PI Jack Taylor is a battered prize-fighter who somehow keeps staggering to his feet. This is a man who's no angel but he's on the side of the angels. And he has his own demons and hell on earth to contend with.

His opponents here are not a surprise a priest and some out of control youngsters who are carrying out a deeply violent selection process. In many ways the plots of this series don't matter a heck of a lot as they are simply a means to an end for Jack to survive whatever is thrown at him.

It's almost impossible to read a Jack Taylor book in one or two sittings, despite the diamond-hard focus of the writing and the pace of the storytelling you need to come up for air and to decompress.

But the dark and disturbing images, and the lingering fear that good can never really trump evil, will stay with you long after you put this book aside. This is the mark of a class writer and one who continues to explore and to push at the boundaries of genre writing.

Sharon Wheeler is a UK-based journalist, writer and lecturer.

Reviewed by Sharon Wheeler, September 2012

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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