Somebody really ought to write Galway ex-cop Jack Taylor’s biography, but trouble erupts when a fledging American academic appoints himself the one.
Brian Boru Kennedy has come to Ireland to research a dissertation on Samuel Beckett. Instead, he falls in with Jack, who, in the course of unfolding the particulars of his life, tells him about Anthony de Burgo, a media darling of a professor and novelist whose only flaw is imprisoning and beating a series of women within an inch of their lives. In the fullness of time, Aine, a returning student who’s taken up with Boru, falls under de Burgo’s spell, and things predictably take a turn for the worse. The first half of this tale, ostensibly Boru’s draft biography of Taylor, is structured so completely as a series of mordant two-line jokes (Boru: “Will there be…ah…violence?” Jack: “We can live in hope”) that the appended “miscellaneous notes, quotes, chapter headings, descriptions” aren’t much more miscellaneous than the main event. In the second half, Jack takes over the narration to tell how he teamed up, more or less, with a goth girl named Emerald McKee to bring de Burgo to justice. Jack’s voice sounds a lot like Boru’s, and his half of the story is equally predictable, though it ends much more satisfyingly.
This meeting of “a wild Irish fucked-up addict” with “a WASP wannabe alcoholic” is neither the greatest nor the least of Jack’s scalding adventures, but it may be the most ritualistic of them all.