Ireland, awash in cash and greed, no longer turns to the Church for solace or comfort. But the decapitation of Father Joyce in a Galway church horrifies even the most jaded citizen.
Jack Taylor, devastated by the recent trauma of personal loss, has always believed himself to be beyond salvation. But a new job offers a fresh start, and an unexpected partnership makes him hope that his one desperate vision - of family - might yet be fulfilled. An eerie mix of exorcism, a predatory stalker, and an unlikely attraction conspires to lure him into a murderous web of dark conspiracies. The spectre of a child haunts every waking moment.
Bleak, unsettling and totally original, Ken Bruen's writing captures the brooding landscape of Irish society at a time of social and economic upheaval. Here is evidence of an unmistakeable literary talent.
Recovered from incapacitating guilt over the death of a child on his watch, Jack Taylor is released from the loony bin at the start of Shamus-winner Bruen's searing fifth book about the alcoholic Galwegian ex-cop (after 2006's The Dramatist). Jack's friend Nio "Ridge" Iomaire picks him up from the hospital and mentions the gory headlines: a pedophilic priest, Father Joyce, was beheaded. At the request of another frightened priest, Jack launches an unofficial investigation with the assistance of an eager, younger partner, Cody. All the while fighting his constant ache for a drink, the maverick PI also helps Ridge ward off a stalker. Jack is a keen and literary narrator, and Bruen's latest Irish noir makes for a kind of savage poetry, at once exhausting and exhilarating. Bruen has been a finalist for Edgar, Anthony and Barry awards.