Ill-fated ex-cop Jack Taylor is broke and working nightshifts as a security guard when he receives an unexpected commission – find The Red Book, an infamous blasphemous text stolen from the Vatican archives. The thief, a rogue priest, is now believed to be hiding out in Galway. Despite Jack's distaste for priests of any stripe, the money is just too good to turn down.
It won't be hard for a man with Jack's skills to track down the errant churchman, but Jack has underestimated The Red Book's toxic lure and will be powerless to stem the wave of violence unleashed in its wake – a wave that will engulf Jack and all those around him.
'Bruen has a surreal mind and an unusual writing style of short, sharp, often one-word sentences. It shouldn't work, but it does, delightfully' The Times, Books of the Year.
Jack Taylor, Bruen's perennially tortured protagonist, suffers new levels of angst in his 13th noir outing (after 2016's The Emerald Lie). Recovering from a failed suicide attempt after a mistaken diagnosis of terminal cancer, Taylor is trying to live the quiet life in Galway, working as a security guard and looking after his dog, Storm. Trouble, however, has a way of finding him. When his boss offers him a job searching for The Red Book, a lost heretical text apparently in the possession of an ex-priest hiding in Ireland, Taylor initially scoffs at the "Dan Brown lite" scheme, but he needs the money and ultimately accepts. Meanwhile, a series of slain animals are found in Galway's Eyre Square accompanied by cryptic notes left by an ultra right-wing group that aims to return to an earlier era of conservative religion. When Emily, the chameleonlike sociopath who's flitted in and out of Jack's life, turns out to be mixed up in the plot, things get really nasty. Bruen is in top form, and, although everything Taylor touches seems to turn to ash, he embodies such humanity that readers will be unable to resist rooting for him.