Sanctuary by Ken Bruen

Published by Transworld Ireland

I have to confess that I’ve yet to take in the entire Ken Bruen canon, but have dipped my toe into his work on a few occasions and have never failed to be entertained.

The last of his novels featuring Galway based Private Investigator Jack Taylor that I recall reading was the excellent Priest and, picking up this copy of Sanctuary, I was pleased to see I was back in familiar territory with the setting, themes and character.

Taylor is your standard classic PI, rarely giving a damn for those around him, constantly taking breaks to partake in a heavy drinking session either in his office or in one of numerous watering holes, and hooked on a case.

In this instance the case comes to Jack in the form of a letter, a killer is at large, a guard and a judge become what appear to be the first victims, dying in mysterious circumstances.  Taylor appears at first to be stumbling through the case, constantly getting caught up in some savage beatings along the way – which give the novel some of its darkest and most humorous moments – until he finds out that a child is next on the list, and then the killer really has his concentration.

Kicking off with a nice quote from Cathi Unsworth’s The Singer (I have a Cathi Unsworth special planned for the blog soon, in advance of her attendance at this year’s Harrogate Crime Writing Festival) this is a very swift read at just over 200 pages in paperback, so was my perfect companion for a couple of train and tube journeys this week.

Ken Bruen is a master of getting the story down, without the need for any unnecessary baggage or detail.  His writing is direct and uses simple prose and fantastic dialogue, resulting in a book that whips along and can’t fail to draw you in as it feels like you are in the book along with Jack Taylor and all is happening in real time.

Off to seek out more Ken Bruen now – and a trip to Galway would be nice too.

Keith B Walters

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