While Jack Taylor sits out a round, two homicidal NYPD cops stand in to sustain the Bruen mood.
Jack Taylor, Bruen’s series antihero who’s losing his bitter battle with the bottle, has a walk-on here. But never mind about Taylor. His replacement, Matthew Patrick O’Shea, is engaged in his own losing battle—with goodness, as he indicates at the outset. Guard O’Shea, of the Irish national police, is certifiably psychotic and needs to be where the action is. New York’s stratospheric level of bloodletting, in his view, lifts it above Dublin as a prospective base of operations. As part of an exchange program, the clever sicko manages to wangle a transfer from the Guards to the NYPD. There he meets and partners with Kurt Browski, a misogynistic thug in blue for whom police brutality amounts to a vocation. Like calls out to like, and for a while the two get along. Amazingly enough, there’s a soft spot in Browski’s iron soul—a beautiful, handicapped sister who’s bound to become a target for O’Shea’s atrocities. Will he pay for his vicious crimes? Bruen, poster boy for noir (Ammunition, 2007, etc.), keeps you guessing until the denouement.
An unlovely tale impossible to put down. Readers asked at year’s end to list the nastiest, most violent cop novels of 2008 will certainly remember this one.