Jack Taylor’s a drunk. He was a drunk while a member of the Garda Siochana, the Irish national police, and even more inclined to the habit since being terminated for decking a loudmouth with too much political clout. Now he cobbles together a living as a quasi-p.i. Here and there in Galway, he’s known as a steady man for finding things. Perched precariously and more or less permanently on his favorite barstool, Jack Taylor will listen to the bereft, if he’s not too far into his pints. Ann Henderson, lovely, grieving, distraught, has lost a child, her daughter. Suicide, Garda officials insist, but Ann doesn’t believe it for a minute: not her Sarah. She thinks a murder is being hushed up in behalf of those with the money and influence to buy that kind of silence. And she wants Jack to sober up long enough to prove her right. “They say you’re good,” she tells him, “because you’ve nothing else in your life.” For the moment, then, Ann’s in his life, brightening it, burnishing its edges with hope. Solving the mystery of Sarah’s death becomes as important to him as it is to her. But soon there are other deaths to contend with, along with threats, beatings, and finally one climactic betrayal.
Hard-boiled, eccentric, darkly comic . . . Bruen (The McDead, 2001, etc.) bows to but doesn’t just mimic James M. Cain and the other great noirists in a breakout novel not to be missed.