cover image Cross


Ken Bruen, . . St. Martin?s Minotaur, $23.95 (288pp) ISBN 978-0-312-34142-8

In Shamus-winner Bruen’s brilliant sixth Jack Taylor novel (after 2007’s Priest ), the tormented Galway detective feels like a ghost in a newly prosperous city that little resembles his birthplace. Years of alcoholic dissipation have taken their toll. Jack’s apprentice and surrogate son, Cody, lies in hospital, the victim of bullets meant for Jack. His only real friend is Ridge, a lesbian Ban Gardai (female cop), and their relationship is a complicated mixture of affection and hostility. Jack decides to cut his losses and move to America, but first he agrees to help Ridge solve a series of heinous murders. A young man’s crucifixion is followed by his sister being burned to death. As Jack investigates, he squares off against a 20-year-old girl whose grief over her religious fanatic mother’s death in a hit-and-run accident has become a black insanity that demands biblical vengeance. Bruen riffs on different meanings and implications of the word cross throughout, and his insights into pain, loss and Irishness are unforgettable. (Mar.)