Ken Bruen, Priest
Bruen is a high-rated writer of hardboiled private eye books. This is a Jack Taylor PI story, being one of only 77 numbered and signed copies in a special binding with an appreciation by Simon Kernick.
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Ken Bruen was born in Galway, Eire and has a growing following in noir crime circles with followers of British writers such as Derek Raymond and David Peace or Americans such as Lawrence Block and the heirs to pulp fiction. Yet although we have the structure of the private eye story Bruen is inclined to a diverse range of literary influences from the Beats to some of the Parisian modernists. His books were for years published only in paperback by an Irish publisher and it was through word of mouth that he began to gain recognition. He has produced a London set police and underworld series and the Jack Taylor PI series beginning with The Guards set in Galway. This series has regularly been nominated for awards in the USA and London Boulevard was released as a film with actress Anna Friel. The Taylor books also use the form of the detective novel to say something about life in Eire – its direction, where it messed up and importantly that it needs to get back on track.
Priest (2006) opens with Jack Taylor recovering from five months in an asylum. He meets with a Catholic priest and is given an assignment to investigate a death of a member of the cloth. This leads to the the whole difficult and tortured issues of paedophilia by Catholic priests and the sustained cover-up by the Church. What is interesting is Bruen’s sympathetic handling of the impact on individuals, as Jack tracks down two men who were abused by the recently murdered priest, is beautifully depicted, though, of course, extremely sad. And through the first-person telling of the story by Jack we also see the impact on the wider society which was once, in various ways, held together by the Church and its representatives (the priests) and is now adrift somewhat without the familiar anchor. The impact on the victims and families cuts to the heart.
This Jack Taylor story won the Barry Award for best British novel and was short-listed for the Edgar. It was published in 2006 in an edition of 77 signed and numbered copies with an appreciation by Simon Kernick.