Book Review: The Ghosts of Galway by Ken Bruen

Posted January 15, 2018 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews / 2 Comments

Book Review: The Ghosts of Galway by Ken Bruen

I received this book for free from the library in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The Ghosts of Galway by Ken Bruen
Genres: Noir Mystery
Published by Mysterious Press on November 14, 2017
Pages: 320
Format: Hardcover
Source: the library

Buy on Amazon
Also by this author: Purgatory

Thirteenth in the Jack Taylor noir mystery series and revolving around one messed-up ex-Garda.

My Take

Jesus, this is grim. It doesn’t help that I’ve missed (how did I do that??) the last two Jack Taylors. Don’t read this one without reading Green Hell (11) and The Emerald Lie (12). It was too big a leap from Purgatory, 10, to The Ghosts of Galway.

The Ghosts of Galway also drove me nuts with the single word lines and the ones that staggered across the page and the “one-liners” that may be in quotes or may not. That may be spoken words. Or may not. I expended a lot of brain power trying to figure these out, and it took me out of the story!

Maybe it’s just how angry Bruen is, letting us know how he feels about politics, taxes, the establishment, doctors, and so much more. Those water taxes certainly raise a lot of ire! It sure is a great way to get your frustrations off your chest, lol. Hmmm, maybe this would be a great assignment in a prison, to write a character who snarks off on everything. Let ’em get their anger out in a more acceptable manner.

I do know that whatever Lorna was up to, I wish that Bruen had come across with the whys. Nor did I understand the Fenians and Storm. Where did that come from? What was that with Clancy? I enjoyed Jack’s bit of retaliation, but I don’t agree with how he ended it or how short a time Clancy had to suffer.

What’s with all the buskers being pissy about only getting 10 or 20 pounds?? And where does Doc get off, being pissy with Jack at the end?? Suggesting blackmail??

That Father Miller is a piece of work. He’s a thief, and he’s looking down at Jack? As for Mulcahy. Jaysus, why would Jack a) want to help him, and b) believe he’d ever give Jack any credit?? As for Em, the girl has no clue, and it’s too stunningly evident when Hayden shows up with that book and says Jack doesn’t even have to grovel for it. WTF???

Ooie, that Cooper really “knows” how to get on your good side.

Oh, crack me up. One of Bruen’s characters wants to know “if the U.S. doesn’t want Trump, could we have him?”

”A coffin makes it difficult to think outside the box.”

When you get down to it, Jack Taylor is the character (using a first person protagonist point-of-view), an honorable one who has faced death and continues to face it. The physical and the metaphysical. His own health, the death or lack of friends, the death of a future.

As for explaining the “4” rating, I have to guess that I missed too much what with missing the last two stories. I don’t know if there would have been events that would have explained the frustrations I experienced with The Ghosts of Galway.

The Story

Even as Jack is trying to come back from that mistaken medical diagnosis and his failed suicide attempt, the rest of life is not letting him be.

Malachy has the nerve to ask Jack for help! An old flame wants help for an old “friend”. His boss wants him to retrieve a possibly heretical book. The manipulative Em who keeps everything revolving every which way. And Ridge keeps tearing him down.

The Characters

Former Garda Jack Taylor is addicted to alcohol, drugs, and books. He’s currently working as a security guard. Storm is his watchful dog. Doc is his neighbor planning a trip up Mt. Everest.

Emily/Emerald/Em is definitely a psychopath with a love for roleplaying and a master at manipulation, who blew into Jack’s life two years ago in Green Hell. And continues to blast in and out. Satan is her one-hundred-pound Rottweiler. Hayden is a friend of Em’s.

The Garda are…
…Irish police. Bean NI Iomaire, a.k.a., Sergeant Ridge, had once been Jack’s friend. Now she’s outright hostile. The only Garda who still talks to Jack is Owen Daglish. Superintendent Clancy (he’s up for police commissioner) had been a friend of Jack’s long ago and now hates him with a passion. Murphy is an officer.

Sheridan is with Special Branch.

Sister Maeve, one of Jack’s few friends, is the communicator between her convent and the public. Anne Henderson had been the love of Jack’s life.

The young Lorna Dunphy claims her brother, Eamon, is missing. Tom Dunphy is her very depressed father. His wife, Ann, committed suicide. Why? Who knows.

Alexander Knox-Keaton, a Ukrainian, is the owner of the security company for which Jack works.

The Fenians are…
…a rebel group who want to launch a second Reformation with Frank Cass and Joe Tyrone at the top.

Ghosts is…
…an Irish ISIS led by ex-priest, Jeremy Cooper, who is in love with the idea of the old Celtic Ireland…and power for himself. Terry “Woody” Wood is a thug and Cooper’s second-in-command. Julia Finch is a mean old bird Cooper has been “seducing”.

Father Malachy had been Jack’s mother’s “pet” at St. Patrick’s Church and has always denigrated Jack. Father Frank Miller had been the assistant curator of sacred manuscripts, etc., at the Vatican. Now he’s gone rogue. The Red Book is said to be the first book of heresy.

Corley made a mistake when he beat Em. Vinny works at Charlie Byrne’s bookshop. I don’t think it was right to blame Jack for Serena Day in The Killing of the Tinkers, 2. Frank Casserly has been the chef at the GBC café for twenty years. Joan Burton is the very detested leader of the Irish Labour Party. Robert Preston is a Protestant lawyer. Dr. Singh is in charge after the hit-and-run. Oats is a fellow patient and had been the clerk for the commissioner of oaths.

The Cover and Title

The cover is grim in its mistiness and its charcoal background (with a touch of green) and the fedora and overcoat worn by a man whom I assume is Jack. With his head looking down at the red book he has clasped in his hands, and the fedora covering his face, it’s hard to tell. The fonts are embossed with the author’s name in a gradated white-to-gray, looking as if smoke is rising up into a white sky while the left-justified title is at the bottom in a gradated red-to-pink with a very small series information tag in white below it.

The title is what crowds Jack’s mind, what the tinker woman warned him of, The Ghosts of Galway from Stewart to Serena Day to a treacherous friend to…oh, so many…and then there’s the terrorists…oh, my…

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