When a pedophile priest is decapitated, p.i. Jack Taylor (The Dramatist, 2006, etc.) seeks to get his own head on straight.
A multi-substance-abuser of some standing, Jack Taylor has come within an eyelash of the ultimate crack-up. Sitting zombie-like in a wheelchair in a Galway mental hospital, he’s salvaged through the kindness of strangers—plus one female friend—and something inside him, some kernel untouched by booze, makes him want to reward the considerable effort required for his rescue. So, putting aside his “full quota of self-loathing,” he agrees to try to solve pro bono the riddle of the headless priest. Who hated Father Joyce enough to brutalize him? Any number of those brutalized by him when they were too young and powerless to defend themselves against a predator so authoritatively robed. Taylor focuses on a list of potential avengers, narrows them to three and discovers as he does how many ripples old crimes can create. Not that this is really news to him, inasmuch as his own old crimes continue to bring about shattering, inescapable punishment.
As bleak and uncompromising a noir stylist as anyone working the genre. And there’s comfort for the squeamish: The insights are always sharp, the wit can flash and, anyway, you don’t read Bruen for his worldview.