KEN BRUEN was born in Galway in 1951 and is the author of
numerous novels. Hes worked as an English teacher in Africa,
Japan, South East Asia and South America.
A film of the novel Her
Last Call To Louis MacNeice is currently in production
and his WHITE TRILOGY (A
White Arrest, Taming
The Alien and The
McDead ) has been bought for television by Deep Indigo
He is also the author of the Jack Taylor series (The
Killing of the Tinkers; The
Magdelain Martyrs; The
published by the leading Irish independent publishing house,
Brandon. He has been a finalist for the Edgar, Anthony, and Barry
Awards and has won both a Macavity Award and Shamus Award for
the Jack Taylor novels.
Ken Bruen lives in Galway with his wife and daughter.
by Ken Bruen and Jason Starr
Due Out October 2007
Q: Did you actually choose to work in the Mystery genre and
if so why? (What does it offer that others do not?)
A: Because it's what I love to read and because
you can not only entertain, have fun but get in some serious
social comment as well and not have to beheavy handed, i.e literary
about it. For me, no other genre reflects the mood on the streets
like mystery does and you get to meet, and hang with legends
Mc Bain as I did and have
friends like Jim
Crumley. Who you rather have a brew with Jim Crumley or Salman Rushdie?
Q: How much of your protagonist in either series is based
upon yourself and/or important figures in your life?
A: Both Jack Taylor and Tommy in American
Skin are based on my beloved brother who died a vagrant alcoholic
in the Oz outback.
Q:Which of your books comes closest to accomplishing your
intention and why?
Skin as it is the love hymn I always wanted to sing to the
Q: Who or what have been your major influences regarding
your writing? (What particular book/writer/film/person/event
made you want to write and why?)
A: As a teenager I discovered the hardboiled
Americans, they then and now influence every single book I write:
Q: What new projects do you have in the pipeline?
A: Once Were Cops is a standalone
in the hands of my agent, the new Jack, Benediction, the
third outing with Jason Starr for Hard
Case Crime and a slew of short stories as usual and new series
For more information on Ken, visit:
A Noir Ditty
Noir is not violence
character is supposed to be the deal
Noir lite has usurped the genre
and shed shallowness on the old appeal
Shamus Award Winner,
Edgar & Macavity Nominee
Killing of the Tinkers
Winner, Barry & Anthony Nominee
Fifth of Bruen
Review by Nancy Gratton,
St. Martin's Minotaur, 2007, 229 pp.
Whatever else might be said of Ken Bruen's fictional universe,
it is resolutely dysfunctional and misanthropic in the extreme.
Whether one explores the severely inebriated milieu of his Jack
Taylor series or the police procedurals featuring the darkly
corrupt Inspectors Roberts and Brant of the London Met's 57th
Precinct, it is rare indeed to run across a good deed ultimately
rewarded or honorable act left untarnished. There is nonetheless
something disturbingly attractive in these books, due in no small
measure to Bruen's extraordinary gifts as a writer. Although
the Bruen oeuvre fits well within the popular genre of crime
fiction, he approaches his manuscripts with a sensibility that
is profoundly literary.
Bruen's most recent release, Ammunition
(seventh in the series), is a perfect case in point. By this
time the Roberts and Brant street partnership has long been sundered,
with the only slightly more civilized Roberts occupying the office
of Chief Inspector, leaving the incorrigible Sergeant Brant to
traumatize a succession of new partners. For readers familiar
with the "R&B" series, it hardly comes as a surprise
that, after all his brutal years on the force, Brant has finally
taken a few bullets. But it takes more than this to halt Brant's
lifelong march into the heart of corruption - he's the quintessential
survivor, and he's as toxic from his hospital bed as he has ever
been on the streets.
of the title has far less to do with the hardware that took Brant
down, and far more to do with the dark philosophy that has allowed
him to run roughshod over those to whom he bears ill will - and
that number includes his colleagues, the criminals of southeast
London, and the public he ostensibly serves. For Brant, everything
is potential ammunition - the petty lusts and ambitions of a
colleague desperate to pass the sergeant's exam, the political
aspirations of his superiors, anything that gives him an opportunity
to manipulate. Too dangerous to be allowed to rise too high in
police echelons, and canny enough to know it, Brant is satisfied
instead to consolidate his position within the ranks, where he
can take what he wants by guile or by force.
One would think that Brant and the other fundamentally damaged
characters that people Bruen's novels would ultimately turn a
reader away from these books. Bruen provides no soft edges that
allow us to care about them, no deeply hidden redeeming qualities
to these people with which we can identify. Yet he writes of
the dark side of humanity so compellingly that it's nearly impossible
to turn away. You read these books knowing in advance that there'll
be no happy ending... indeed, in some of Bruen's work, particularly
the Jack Taylor novels and the early short stories showcased
Fifth of Bruen, there's no conventional ending at
all. The stories simply tail off into another drunken blackout,
another hopeless gesture.
What Bruen writes is noir at its noir-est. He is a poet of the
darkest order. He has a gift for emotive language, although his
economy of words often rivals Hemingway. There is a brooding
quality to his prose, his characterizations, his dialog, that
keeps you immersed in his dystopian universe, even when you would
really rather turn away. His is a powerful and iconoclastic voice,
a litterateur hiding out in plain sight in the disguise of a
generic fiction writer.
Last Call to Louis Macneice