Tuesday, July 21, 2015

GREEN HELL by Ken Bruen

Ken Bruen’s Green Hell has several psychopathic killers, and none of them is Jack Taylor.

Jack Taylor plans to kill a serial murderer, a well-known professor at the University of Galway.

The man lures young women students into his web. He rapes and kills them. Because the professor is influential, the Guards ignore the killings.

Jack takes a young American man, a Rhodes scholar Boru Kennedy, under his wing.

Kennedy writes the first half of Green Hell. Then Kennedy betrays Jack, becomes involved with a young woman, and ends up imprisoned for her murder.

The story goes from there. It involves Jack saving a puppy from a murderous beating, meeting a haunting young woman, and starting the process of avenging Boru Kennedy.

But Jack Taylor commits no avenging murders. They happen in another way.

I’ve been intentionally vague about the details. I leave those for you.

This story is the equal of the other Jack Taylor books. It is brutal, well-written, and deceptively well-plotted. Events seem random, but they come together.

Some of the Taylor books stand out, but they are all excellent.

And one other comment. Ken Bruen uses many literary, music, TV, and other cultural references. At one point, Jack explains:
“I read an author during Christmas you know, the critics crap him off because they say. . .”


“. . . Get this. He uses too many cultural references, pop music, crime writers in his books. Now, see, you know what I think of them? I might hazard . . . not complimentary?”

Big grin, then,

“Yeah, bollix to them. Because for me, it grounds the story in stuff I know, that I can relate to. One fuck said he was for people who don’t read. How fucking insulting is that to readers?”

The pint was good. I sank a quarter, said,

“Thing is, Sean, critics are God’s excuse for why shite happens.”


R.T. said...

It seems as thought the key word in Bruen's book is always "brutal." I find that I am being drawn more often to golden age (but not yet cozy) rather than "brutal" crime-detective-mystery fiction. So, even though your fine posting is persuasive, I remain allergic to "brutal." Too many issues in my real life contribute to my allergy.

Joe Barone said...

R.T., I understand that. That may be why Bruen is one of the few "hard noir" writers I read. I write my little comments for myself (to help me remember and to formulate what I think about a book), but I know others read them. That's why I always try to describe the nature of the book. I don't want anyone to be surprised.