Priest (Jack Taylor #5) by Ken Bruen

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EXCERPT: The nun was gathering up the song sheets. She loved this time of the morning, the sun streaming through the stained glass. Her habit felt heavy but she offered it for the souls in Purgatory. She found a ten euro note in the end pew, was tempted to pocket it, buy a feast of ice cream. But blessing herself, she shoved it in the poor box. It slid in easily as the box was empty – who gave alms any more?

She noticed the door to the confessional ajar. Tut-tutting, she felt a tremor of annoyance. Father Joyce would have a fit if he saw that. He was a holy terror for order, ran the church like an army, God’s army. Moving quickly, she gently pulled the door, but it wouldn’t budge. Getting seriously irritated, she scuttled round to the other door and peered through the grille. Her scream could be heard all the way to Eyre Square.

Father Joyce’s severed head was placed on the floor of the confessional.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: Ireland, awash with cash and greed, no longer turns to the Church for solace or comfort. But the decapitation of Father Joyce in a Galway confessional horrifies even the most jaded citizen.

Jack Taylor, devastated by the recent trauma of personal loss, has always believed himself to be beyond salvation. But a new job offers a fresh start, and an unexpected partnership provides hope that his one desperate vision, of family, might yet be fulfilled.

An eerie mix of exorcism, a predatory stalker, and unlikely attraction conspires to lure him into a murderous web of dark conspiracies. The specter of a child haunts every waking moment.

MY THOUGHTS: Bruen’s writing is raw. Brutal. Irish. Black humour. He doesn’t waste words.

Jack is a tortured soul. Haunted by his own past and the death of a child that he was responsible for. A lapsed Catholic, his life is still inextricably entwined with the Church. He makes bargains with a God he no longer believes in.

In this, the 5th book of the series, Jack is sober. Not something that either we, the readers, or Jack himself, is familiar with.

He is tasked by a Priest, Father Malachy with whom he has history, to discover who killed Father Joyce.

Bruen weaves tidbits of Irish history and folklore effortlessly into his work. We learn about Galway landmarks – the Salmon Weir bridge and Eyre Square. There are frequent literary and musical references. I have a Ken Bruen-Jack Taylor playlist. It’s getting very long. It is magnificent and varied – Steve Earle, REM, Springsteen, Black Eyed Peas, Emmylou Harris, and Adrian McKinty’s great favourite – Tom Waits.

I read this series with an Irish lilt. It is a series, and one best read in order. Preferably with a dram of Jamesons. Jack won’t mind.

❤❤❤❤❤

THE AUTHOR: Ken Bruen is one of the most renown Irish writers, who writes noir crime fiction novels. He was born in Galway, Ireland, in 1951. He studied at Gormanston College, County Meath, and Trinity College Dublin, where he got a Ph.D in Metaphysics. Unlike most novelists, Ken Bruen has travelled around the world. During his twenty-five years as an English teacher, he worked in Africa, Japan, South America and South East Asia. Just as anyone would conclude, Ken’s travels were precarious at some point, including time spent in a Brazilian jail, where he was wrongfully imprisoned for alleged involvement in a bar fight. He currently resides in Galway, Ireland, with his wife and his daughter, Grace.

Ken started writing after his gruesome experience in prison in Brazil. The torture he went through left bad memories and mental anguish. A traumatized Bruen started writing crime fiction in an effort to get the nightmares off his head and heal the scars left from the horrendous ordeal. His very first novel, Funerals, was about a boy who attended funerals like they were soccer games. He has written over thirty five novels, six of which have been featured in television series. His novels feature typical comedy incorporated into noir crime fiction, and he does not fail to poke the Irish Church and the State at some particular point in his novels. He exposes a number of ills and provides an intuition of the dark side of Ireland. The main themes in his works are Ireland’s economic prosperity since the 1990s, immigration, the decline of the social and political power of the Catholic Church and the social change in Ireland. (BookSeriesInOrder.com)

DISCLOSURE: I own my copy of Priest by Ken Bruen, published by Bantam Press, Transworld Publishers. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com

This review and others are also published on Twitter, Instagram and Goodreads.com

Second hand heaven!

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Saturday, on the way up to my son’s, I stopped at Kihi Kihi, a small village about half an hour north of where I live. There is a large second hand bookstore there that I am always intending to visit, but because I usually go through there at silly o’clock in the morning before anything is open, and return at late o’clock, long after they’ve closed, I have never been able to. But on Saturday, I travelled at a civilised time and stopped in. I thought I had bought 16 books, but it was actually 18 for $60.00, and I got a free book bag with them. A lovely sea blue one with little white stars. And after I left, I kept thinking, ‘Oh! I forgot to look for this author, and that author…’ So I can see that I am going to have to make a return trip some time soon.

But in the meantime, I am all set up for my winter reads. My bookshelves are overflowing…may have to knock a wall out and put up more shelving! 🤣😂❤😍📚☕🍪

Happy reading my friends.

Gun Street Girl by Adrian McKinty

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EXCERPT: He led me through the gates, along a gravel drive, into a wood-paneled entrance hall and finally into a large open-plan living room that overlooked the North Channel. The place was full of coppers and other hangers-on, some of whom turned to look at me the moment I stepped into the room. I ignored them.

The sun was up now and Scotland was so close you could see the chimney smoke from the villages on the other side of the sea. The living room itself was hung with tasteful, presumably original, artwork. Furniture: big stylish sofas, comfy chairs, a nice mahogany dining room table on to which a whole bunch of police forensic equipment had been placed. Floor: hardwood with massive, expensive looking Persian rugs on top. The TV was on, but at this time of day the only thing showing was the BBC test card: the little girl and the creepy clown playing noughts and crosses forever in a nursery hell.

Of course the focal point of the mise-en-crime were the two bodies sitting facing one another on two armchairs wither side of the TV set.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: Belfast, 1985, amidst the “Troubles”: Detective Sean Duffy, a Catholic cop in the Protestant RUC (Royal Ulster Constabulary), struggles with burn-out as he investigates a brutal double murder and suicide. Did Michael Kelly really shoot his parents at point blank and then jump off a nearby cliff? A suicide note points to this conclusion, but Duffy suspects even more sinister circumstances. He soon discovers that Kelly was present at a decadent Oxford party where a cabinet minister’s daughter died of a heroin overdose. This may or may not have something to do with Kelly’s subsequent death.

New evidence leads elsewhere: gun runners, arms dealers, the British government, and a rogue American agent with a fake identity. Duffy thinks he’s getting somewhere when agents from MI5 show up at his doorstep and try to recruit him, thus taking him off the investigation.

Duffy is in it up to his neck, doggedly pursuing a case that may finally prove his undoing.

MY THOUGHTS: This was my Valentines Day present to myself. And damn….it’s good. In fact the best of the series yet. I sat down with it when I got home and didn’t move until I closed the cover on the final page a little before midnight. No dinner, no nothing. Just one of the best reads ever.

November 1985 and a country on the verge of the biggest uprising since the Hunger Strikes. But that is not the only piece of history McKinty has borrowed: ‘there is the tragic death of Olivia Channon at Oxford; Lt. Colonel Oliver North’s bizarre attempt to obtain anti-aircraft missiles using an Irish passport and the psuedonym John Clancy (his favourite author) during the Iran Contra affair; the events surrounding the signing of the Anglo-Irish agreement; the chinook helicopter crash on the Mull of Kintyre in which an entire cadre of MI5 agents based in Norther Ireland were killed; and the theft of Blowpipe and Javelin missiles from the Short Brothers factory in East Belfast.’ (Author’s afterword) I love the way he weaves these events into the life our fictional Sean Duffy.

But don’t worry…it’s not all work, Duffy does get time to play. A little.

The characters are an eclectic mix – all of them playing a vital part in the story.

As I said, the best in the series yet. And I can’t wait to see what McKinty has in store for Duffy next.

*****

THE AUTHOR: Adrian McKinty is an Irish novelist. He was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and grew up in Victoria Council Estate, Carrickfergus, County Antrim. He read law at the University of Warwick and politics and philosophy at the University of Oxford. He moved to the United States in the early 1990s, living first in Harlem, New York and from 2001 on, in Denver, Colorado, where he taught high school English and began writing fiction. He lives in Melbourne, Australia with his wife and two children.

DISCLOSURE: I own my copy of Gun Street Girl by Adrian McKinty, published by Serpent’s Tail . All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system, please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com

This review and others are also published on Twitter and https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3190575142?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1

The Cold, Cold Ground by Adrian McKinty

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EXCERPT: I shone my flashlight and then I saw her.

She was fully clothed, hanging under the limb of an oak tree. She had set up the noose, put her head in it, stepped off a tree stump and then regretted it.

Almost every person who hanged themselves did it wrong.

The noose is supposed to break your neck, not choke you to death.

Lucy had tried desperately to claw through the rope, had even managed to get a finger between the rope and her throat. It hadn’t done any good.

She was blue. Her left eye was bulging out of its socket, her right eyeball had popped onto her cheek.

Apart from that and the lifeless way the breeze played with her brown hair she did not look dead. The birds hadn’t found her yet.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: Two dead.

One left in a car at the side of a road. He was meant to be found quickly. His killer is making a statement.

The other is discovered hanged, deep in a forest. She is surely a suicide.

Detective Sergeant Duffy is the man tasked with trying to get to the bottom of it all. It’s no easy job – especially when it turns out that one of the victims was involved in the IRA, but last seen discussing business with someone from the UVF. Add to that the fact that as a Catholic policemen, it doesn’t matter which side he’s on, because nobody trusts him – and Sergeant Duffy really is in a no-win situation.

MY THOUGHTS: I discovered Sean Duffy late in this series, but loved him so much that I have gone back to read this series from the beginning.

McKinty’s writing is, though often brutal, like liquid honey. It flows easily, even as Duffy makes huge leaps of deduction, often unfounded and misguided. But he is no bumbling fool, merely a man who feels too much, who longs to make a difference, who wants to help stop the madness of the Irish troubles.

Set in the reign of Margaret Thatcher, with the marriage of Prince Charles to Diana Spencer looming, resources are stretched thin. Riots are an every day occurrence, political prisoners are on hunger strikes, and innocent civilians are being killed in the random bombings.

And yet amongst all this carnage and hatred, McKinty manages to convey that there are still good people, people not interested in either side winning, people invested in finding an equitable peace. He even manages to insert a little Irish folk lore – ‘My grandmother told me that the forest was an opening to someplace else. Where things lurked, things we could only half see. Older beings. Shees. Shades of creatures that once walked the natural world, redundant now, awaiting tasks, awaiting their work in dreams.’

McKinty is one of the most talented writers I have ever read for setting atmosphere. As I read, I can hear every inflection, every nuance in the voices, I can smell the odour of death, of putrefaction, I can taste the food, even the whisky – ‘It was the good stuff and it tasted of salt, sea, rain, wind and the Old Testament.’ He brings his work alive.

😍😲😍😲.5

My favourite quote from The Cold, Cold Ground: ‘William Burroughs said that a paranoid is somebody who knows what is actually going on.’

THE AUTHOR: Adrian McKinty is an Irish novelist. He was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and grew up in Victoria Council Estate, Carrickfergus, County Antrim. He read law at the University of Warwick and politics and philosophy at the University of Oxford. He moved to the United States in the early 1990s, living first in Harlem, New York and from 2001 on, in Denver, Colorado, where he taught high school English and began writing fiction. He lives in Melbourne, Australia with his wife and two children.

DISCLOSURE: I borrowed my copy of The Cold, Cold Ground by Adrian McKinty, published by Serpent’s Tail, from Waitomo District Library. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com

This review and others are also published on https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2994284793

Watching What I’m Reading…

I finished
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before I got out of bed this morning after starting it last night. My review will be posted tomorrow.

I am listening to 17187220
So if you saw someone walking to work Friday morning laughing…that was me. I love McKinty’s sense of humour.

This week I am planning on reading

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Behind every successful man is a strong woman… but in these stories, she might be about to plant a knife in his spine. The characters in this anthology are fed up – tired of being held back, held down, held accountable – by the misogyny of the system. They’re ready to resist by biting back in their own individual ways, be it through magic, murder, technology, teeth, pitfalls and even… potlucks. Join sixteen writers as they explore feminism in fantasy, science-fiction, fractured fairy-tales, historical settings, and the all-too-familiar chauvinist contemporary world.

(While most of the content is YA appropriate, please note the editors recommend this anthology for 16+.)

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In small towns, no one lets the facts get in the way of juicy gossip…

Terri Rayburn is a girl with a reputation. She doesn’t deserve it, but having grown up on the outskirts of Summer Hill, Virginia, she knows how small towns work. The only way to deal with vicious gossip is to ignore it. So she keeps to herself as she runs the summer resort on Lake Kissel.

When she returns home from a short trip to find a handsome stranger living in her house, she smells a rat. Someone is trying to fix her up, and she has to admit that Nate Taggert is just her type. However, Nate is engaged to the daughter of the mayor and strictly off-limits.

Nate and Terri form an unlikely friendship while he throws himself into life at the lake. As Nate starts to hear rumors about Terri he’s confused. Knowing how smart, beautiful and strong she is, he’s determined to discover the source of the gossip. Terri doesn’t want to revisit the past, but Nate won’t stop until he discovers the truth—even if the truth might be more than either of them can handle.

I had no new ARCs from Netgalley this week, but I have received two directly from authors.

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And Owen Mullen (I love this author) has sent me an ARC for Deadly Harm….sorry I don’t yet have any cover art, but as soon as I do, you will see it.

A short post today as I have been at work all day and I really need some dinner. So excuse me while I roast some potatoes and throw together a salad to have with our pork chops.

Happy reading my friends. ❤😍📚

Watching what I’m reading….

It seems like an awfully long time since I last did this post…somewhere around two months. Let’s hope that I have not forgotten how!
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Currently I am reading Child’s Play by Angela Marsons and it’s every bit as great as I have come to expect from her. I should finish it tonight, so watch for my review tomorrow.

And I am listening to The Cleaner by Paul Cleave
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which I have previously read. Even though I know the outcome I am really enjoying the audiobook.

This week I plan on reading The Girl in the Grave by Helen Phifer.
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When the body of a teenage runaway is found hidden inside someone else’s grave in a small-town cemetery in The Lake District, an urgent call is made to Forensic Pathologist Beth Adams. Still traumatised by a recent attempt on her own life, one look at the beautiful girl’s broken body is enough to bring Beth out of hiding for the first time since her attack. She’s the only one who can help her trusted friend, Detective Josh Walker, crack the most shocking case of his career.

Beth struggles to believe it’s a coincidence that the gravesite was scheduled to be exhumed, exposing the evidence. Does this twisted killer want to be caught?

Throwing herself into her work Beth discovers traces of material beneath the victim’s fingernails that sets the team on the killer’s trail. But this critical lead comes at a dangerous price, exposing Beth’s whereabouts and dragging her back into her attacker’s line of fire once again.

With Beth’s own life on the line, the investigation is already cracking under the pressure. Then another local girl goes missing… Can Beth stay alive long enough to catch the killer before he claims his next victim?

And The Darkest Summer by Ella Drummond
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One hot summer, Dee disappeared. Now she’s back…but she’s not the girl you knew.

Sera and Dee were the best of friends.

Until the day that Dee and her brother Leo vanished from Sera’s life, during a long hot summer fifteen years ago.

Now Sera is an adult, with her own child, five-year-old Katie, and has returned to her childhood home after her husband’s death.

While she grieves, the past haunts Sera at every turn … and then Dee and Leo return to their small Hampshire village, along with Dee’s young daughter.

But Dee is silent and haunted by her demons; no longer the fun-loving girl that Sera loved. And when Sera uncovers the shocking secret that Dee is hiding, it’s clear that the girl she knew is long gone – and that the adult she has grown into might put all of them in danger…

Now that I am back in the saddle, so to speak, I went on a bit of a requesting spree and so far have been approved for

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and I Will Miss You Tomorrow by Heine Bakkeid for which I don’t currently have a cover shot.

Wishing you a wonderful week of reading

Cheers
Sandy .😍📚

In the Galway Silence by Ken Bruen

In the Galway Silence by Ken Bruen

EXCERPT: I turned very slightly, moved my face close to supercop, whispered, “I’m going to shoot him on Friday, at about three in the afternoon, so you can be there to make the big arrest.”

He moved back a step.

“Are you serious?”

I pondered, then, “Maybe it’s the drink talking.”

Debated.

Added, “Could be Thursday. I’m lousy with dates.”

ABOUT THIS BOOK: Ken Bruen has been called “hard to resist, with his aching Irish heart, silvery tongue, and bleak noir sensibility” (New York Times Book Review). His prose is as characteristically sharp as his outlook in the latest Jack Taylor novel, In the Galway Silence. After much tragedy and violence, Jack Taylor has at long last landed at contentment. Of course, he still knocks back too much Jameson and dabbles in uppers, but he has a new woman in his life, a freshly bought apartment, and little sign of trouble on the horizon. Once again, trouble comes to him, this time in the form of a wealthy Frenchman who wants Jack to investigate the double-murder of his twin sons. Jack is meanwhile roped into looking after his girlfriend’s nine-year-old son, and is in for a shock with the appearance of a character out of his past. The plot is one big chess game and all of the pieces seem to be moving at the behest of one dangerously mysterious player: a vigilante called “Silence,” because he’s the last thing his victims will ever hear.

This is Ken Bruen at his most darkly humorous, his most lovably bleak, as he shows us the meaning behind a proverb of his own design–“the Irish can abide almost anything save silence.”

MY THOUGHTS: Random.

Compelling.

Dark.

Funny.

This book is all these things, and more. I was concerned about joining this series at book #14. I needn’t have been. After some initial confusion, I was entranced. I wondered if the author was on speed. I wondered if I should be. I had to shift my brain into random mode and just go with the flow.

A great experience.

I will be reading more from this author.

😂😲😆😨😉

THE AUTHOR: Ken Bruen, born in Galway in 1951, is the author of The Guards (2001), the highly acclaimed first Jack Taylor novel. He spent twenty-five years as an English teacher in Africa, Japan, S.E. Asia and South America. His novel Her Last Call to Louis Mac Niece (1997) is in production for Pilgrim Pictures, his “White Trilogy” has been bought by Channel 4, and The Guards is to be filmed in Ireland by De Facto Films.

He has won Two Shamus awards by Private Eye Writers of America for the best detective fiction genre novel of the year for The Guards(2004) and The Dramatist(2007).

He has also received The Best series Award in February 2007 for the Jack Taylor novels from The Crime Writers Association

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Grove Atlantic via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of In the Galway Silence by Ken Bruen for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com for an explanation of my rating system. This review and others are also published on my Goodreads.com page https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2501160221