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KEN BRUEN was born in Galway in 1951 and is the author of numerous novels. He’s 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 Productions.

He is also the author of the Jack Taylor series (The Guards; The Killing of the Tinkers; The Magdelain Martyrs; The Dramatist; Priest; and Cross.) 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.



from Hard Case Crime


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 like Bunker, 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?

A: American Skin as it is the love hymn I always wanted to sing to the USA.

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: Goodis, Thompson, Willeford........my idols.

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 titled Merrick.

For more information on Ken, visit:



A Noir Ditty
by Ken

Violence is not Noir
Noir is not violence
character is supposed to be the deal
Noir lite has usurped the genre
and shed shallowness on the old appeal
 Jack Taylor

The Guards
Shamus Award Winner, Edgar & Macavity Nominee

The Killing of the Tinkers
Macavity Award Winner, Barry & Anthony Nominee

The Magdelan Martyrs

The Dramatist
Shamus Nominee


Brant Novels

A White Arrest

Taming the Alien

The McDead




 book/s in review


The Dead Room

Murder Book


A Fifth of Bruen

Poetry of Murder

Review by Nancy Gratton, Heirloom Bookstore:
Ammunition (et al)

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.

The Ammunition 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 in A 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.


Rilke on Black

The Hackman Blues

Her Last Call to Louis Macneice

London Boulevard

Dispatching Baudelaire

American Skin

 previous features

   author's favorite picks on:


Donna Andrews
Brian Wiprud

Reed Farrel Coleman
Jane Cleland


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