cover image The Dramatist

The Dramatist

Ken Bruen, . . St. Martin's Minotaur, $22.95 (242pp) ISBN 978-0-312-31647-1

Last seen in Bruen's The Magdalen Martyrs (2004), Irish detective Jack Taylor is sober and hating it in his stellar fourth outing. Things are looking up for the well-worn detective—at least until the apparently accidental death of the sister of his drug dealer, who's now in jail. As Taylor pursues the well-read killer in Dublin, he gets involved in the life of an old flame, Ann Henderson, and her abusive husband. A group of shadowy pike-wielding vigilantes adds extra spice to the mix. By now, readers know the Bruen formula of the downward spiral, but there's no denying the effectiveness of the tough dialogue, the crisp scenes and Taylor's weary, crumpled-jacket appeal. Nor can many writers in any genre evoke a seedy urban Ireland as well as Bruen. Few, too, can continue to deliver interesting stories and even more interesting character studies. With a riveting mystery and a deftly rendered protagonist, Bruen recaptures the immediacy and the impact of the first two novels in the series (The Guards and The Killing of the Tinkers ). (Mar.)