EXCERPT: ‘Your name came up in another case.’
I said, ‘I have the perfect alibi: a coma.’
He asked, ‘You ever meet . . . wait, I’ll check my notes. ‘Took out a battered Garda notebook. I felt the familiar pang of regret at having been thrown out of the force. He double checked, then continued, ‘Renee Garvey?’
It sort of rang a bell, but elusive. I said, ‘Why?’
He said, ‘She has a young daughter who is obviously a victim of abuse but is in some sort of shock and not talking. The mother, Renee, was apparently thrown through a third-floor window, worse, a closed window.’
I asked, ‘Did she survive?’
He gave me a withering look, said ‘No miracle for her, she’s dead as dirt.’
I felt terrible. Now I remembered her desperation and how flippant I had been. More points on the guilt sheet.
I said, ‘I failed her.’
ABOUT: ‘A GALWAY EPIPHANY (JACK TAYLOR #16) Jack Taylor has finally escaped the despair of his violent life in Galway in favor of a quiet retirement in the country with his friend Keefer, a former Rolling Stones roadie, and a falcon named Maeve. But on a day trip back into the city to sort out his affairs, Jack is hit by a truck in front of Galway’s Famine Memorial, left in a coma but mysteriously without a scratch on him.
When he awakens weeks later, he finds Ireland in a frenzy over the so-called “Miracle of Galway.” People have become convinced that the two children spotted tending to him are saintly, and the site of the accident sacred. The Catholic Church isn’t so sure, and Jack is commissioned to help find the children to verify the miracle or expose the stunt.
But Jack isn’t the only one looking for these children. A fraudulent order of nuns needs them to legitimatize its sanctity and becomes involved with a dangerous arsonist. Soon, the building in which the children are living burns down. Jack returns to his old tricks, and his old demons, as his quest becomes personal.
MY THOUGHTS: All the time I was reading A Galway Epiphany by Ken Bruen, I was writing the review in my head. It was a blinder, probably the best thing I have ever written. By the time I closed the cover on Jack Taylor in the early hours of this morning, it consisted of two words: I’m speechless.
I’m still kind of speechless; all the thoughts I’d had, vanished. I feel like I have been dropped down the laundry shute, put through the washer, the wringer, the dryer, then, instead of being neatly folded and put away, I have been tossed in a heap in the corner.
Jack Taylor can in no way be considered ‘ordinary.’ He is irreverent, yet strangely obsessed by religion. At one point he recites the Our Father daily, even adding the Protestant rider to it just in case God does, in fact, turn out to be Protestant. He is the child of generations of superstition, belief in seers, omens, signs, second sight and the seventh son of the seventh son deeply ingrained. He knows how pathetic it is, but as he says, ‘When you’re hardwired to this shite, it’s difficult to shake.’
He is a devotee of the ‘good stiff drink’, Jameson, no ice, a nice frothy pint of Guinness, and the occasional, or sometimes more frequent, Xanax. He is not a fan of being hugged, which everyone seems to be doing these days and which, he concedes, makes a change from being shot at and beaten, although he is somewhat more comfortable with the latter.
Jack is not good at personal relationships. Just like his behaviour has no bounds, his mouth has no filter, and what he is thinking more often than not is said. He is angry at the world, and not afraid to show it.
In A Galway Epiphany, Taylor has two ‘miracle’ children to find, an arsonist who needs extinguishing, an asshole husband who killed his wife, a cyber bully to locate, and Father Malachy to contend with.
Interspersed with the 2019 storyline are world events, literary, and musical references, and even a reference to box sets.
Bruen has never been a smooth writer. It’s just not his style. It works, usually. And usually I love it. But A Galway Epiphany seems even choppier than usual. More disjointed. Frenzied in places. A little harder to read. In the past I could hear the voices of Bruen’s characters in my head. It didn’t happen. And yet I enjoyed (if that’s the right word; I can’t at the moment think of another) A Galway Epiphany, despite the choppiness, despite the cliffhanger ending.
Is there going to be more Jack Taylor? I don’t know. I hope so.
Btw, Mr Bruen, I thought the killer eating his scrambled egg with the murder weapon was a brilliant touch.
‘It is said that an epiphany is most likely to occur in a cemetery, though it helps if you’re the mourner rather than the deceased.’
‘The power of positive drinking.’
THE AUTHOR: KEN BRUEN was born in Galway, Ireland in 1951. The award-winning author of sixteen novels, he is the editor of Dublin Noir, and spent twenty-five years as an English teacher in Africa, Japan, Southeast Asia and South America. He now lives in Galway City. (Amazon)
DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Grove Atlantic via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of A Galway Epiphany by Ken Bruen for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.
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