Galway ex-cop Jack Taylor, whose main job these days is keeping himself clean and sober, goes up against a vigilante whose targets richly deserve to die.
You might feel sorry for Joseph, the teenager shot off his skateboard, if you didn’t know he was dealing dope to kids even younger than him. But no one mourns the passing of Tim Rourke, the accused rapist who’d be rotting in prison instead of the grave if a dewy-eyed social worker’s testimony hadn’t freed him to meet his maker. Or Peg Ramsay, the moneylender’s widow who’s been determined to squeeze her clients even harder than her late lamented husband ever did. Or Dolan, the landlord who neglected to make sure all his tenants had made it out of his properties before he burned them down. Jack wouldn’t waste a tear on any of these victims if their killer, calling himself C33, weren’t sending notes to Jack (The Devil, 2010, etc.) inviting him to join the festivities. Soon enough, Jack and his mates, Zen-spouting entrepreneur Stewart and lesbian Sgt. Ridge Ní Iomaire, are up to their necks in C33’s lethal games. The case brings Jack bumping repeatedly against dot-com billionaire Daniel Reardon, with each new collision producing fresh eruptions of bile—is there an angrier narrator in the genre than Jack?—but precious little in the way of plot development, until the obvious suspect gets identified and does a runner, turning Jack from reluctant detective into nemesis, a role that suits him much better.
For all the furious energy of Jack’s throwaway riffs, the title of this installment, which would have fit most of Bruen’s pitch-noir dispatches equally well, isn’t the only thing that feels recycled here.