The Killing of the Tinkers by Ken Bruen
|The Killing of the Tinkers by Ken Bruen|
|Reviewer: Louise Laurie|
|Summary: This is the second Jack Taylor book in a quartet. Taylor's like a Jack Frost - but with an Irish accent, who calls a spade a shovel, is world-weary, crumpled but also has a certain charm - oh, and he has a nose for the job.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 304||Date: March 2010|
|Publisher: Brandon Mount Eagle|
Jack Taylor returns to his native Ireland with his tail between his legs. He's been lying low 'over the water' in London, licking his wounds. Jack (I'm slightly surprised that Bruen didn't give him a more Irish name) is a middle-aged, washed-up, disgraced ex-cop. As if that wasn't bad enough, he also has a lot of very bad habits. He acknowledges however that the new world is designed for non-smokers. He also admits quite freely and openly that An alcoholic has dreams to rival that of any Vietnam vet.
It seems as if Jack the lad is now after a quieter life. But no sooner has he sat down in the corner of a nice, Irish pub with a pint of Guinness, than his investigative skills are required. He goes freelance. There's been a recent spate of murders, but no one's bothered about them, least of all the local police. The consensus seems to be that the Fecking tinkers, they're always killing each other. Case closed. Or is it?
Bruen's chosen a sensitive area in the tinkers, roving people, gypsies. They are a proud lot in this story. The general public or 'settled people' (which is an unsettling phrase in itself) view the tinkers with disdain. They're no better than stray dogs in the street. Factually, roving communities, roving people also seem to generally receive a bad press, a bit of a raw deal. In Bruen's novel, the tinkers are off the radar, life is cheap and death not worth mentioning.
Beneath all the bluster, Jack's a cultured man. He's a prolific reader and throughout this book you could easily compile a comprehensive reading list for yourself, if you wanted. There are also some beautifully poetic quotations dotted all over this novel, like confetti.
This book is so much more than a crime story. The crime plot itself is interesting but it's the whole process, Jack's thinking process which is altogether entertaining. He's a complex character. But I took to him immediately. His flaws are there for all to see. He doesn't care. He's past caring.
There's lots of quick-fire dialogue which gives the book pace. It's quirky, breezy and lands a punch. There's also lots of dark, Irish humour as you might expect alongside snazzy, one-liners. In fact, there's probably enough material here for a stand-up comic to do a decent gig. This book puts a smile on your face, even allowing for the gruesome crime element.
As the location is Ireland, politics creeps in to the story now and again, as well as the odd line from well-known pop songs and bands. It's a modern-day story at the (as Jack himself might say) fag-end of the 20th century. A bit of a potted social history, if you like, to lend to the overall atmosphere. In fact, everything around him appears to be changing, except Jack. He's had a colourful past, it's all catching up with him and he finds it difficult, at times, to haul his decrepit body out of bed in the morning. He's a social wreck.
I read this book easily in one sitting. My only complaint is that I wanted to spend more time in the company of Jack Taylor. An entertaining read.
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.
If this book appeals to you then you might also enjoy The Dark Place: A Karl Kane Novel by Sam Millar.
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