cover image Headstone


Ken Bruen. Grove Atlantic/Mysterious, $24 (240p) ISBN 978-0-8021-2600-9

Irish author Bruen’s hard-hitting ninth Jack Taylor novel (after The Devil) finds the Galway PI coping with alcoholism, a permanent limp, hearing loss, and emotional scars that continually threaten to take him down. For once, however, Taylor appears to have found a promising love interest in Laura, an American-born crime novelist, with whom he’s recently enjoyed a romantic idyll in Paris. Of course, moments of grace are fleeting in Bruen’s world, and things rapidly head south after Taylor receives a miniature gravestone in the post, courtesy of a group of psychopaths calling themselves “Headstone.” Led by a fanatic recidivist criminal from a previous Taylor case, they target the “weak,” including the handicapped, the mentally ill, and the homeless. Now they have their sights set on Taylor and everyone close to him. That the plot is a tad cartoonish and over-the-top scarcely matters in a remarkable series that at heart is about one man’s reckoning with a lifetime of pain and loss in a rapidly changing Ireland. (Oct.)