The Guards

The Guards

Book - 2004
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Still stinging from his unceremonious ouster from the Garda Siochana--The Guards, Ireland's police force--and staring at the world through the smoky bottom of his beer mug, Jack Taylor is stuck in Galway with nothing to look forward to. In his sober moments Jack aspires to become Ireland's best private investigator, not to mention its first--Irish history, full of betrayal and espionage, discourages any profession so closely related to informing. But in truth Jack is teetering on the brink ofhis life's sharpest edges, his memories of the past cutting deep into his soul and his prospects for the future nonexistent.

Nonexistent, that is, until a dazzling woman walks into the bar with a strange request and a rumor about Jack's talent for finding things. Odds are he won't be able to climb off his barstool long enough to get involved with his radiant new client, but when he surprises himself by getting hired, Jack has little idea of what he's getting into.

Stark, violent, sharp, and funny, The Guards is an exceptional novel, one that leaves you stunned and breathless, flipping back to the beginning in a mad dash to find Jack Taylor and enter his world all over again. It's an unforgettable story that's gritty, absorbing, and saturated with the rough-edged rhythms of the Galway streets. Praised by authors and critics around the globe, The Guards heralds the arrival of an essential new novelist in contemporary crime fiction.

Ken Bruen's The Guards is a 2004 Edgar Award Nominee for Best Novel.

Publisher: New York : St. Martin's Press, 2004, c2001
Edition: 1st St. Martin's Griffin ed. --
ISBN: 9780312320270
Branch Call Number: FIC Bruen
Characteristics: 291 p. --


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Aug 28, 2017

Since I usually read golden age mysteries, this was a bit different for me; but it was still an interesting read, although less a straight narrative than a peek into the psyche of a damaged drunk as he goes about trying to prove a young girl's drowning wasn't a suicide.

Mar 21, 2016

Mr. Bruen affects a cut rate Bukowski, and his protagonist, a 3rd rate Matt Scudder (of Lawrence Block fame). Readable, but ultimately disappointing.

Dec 16, 2015

Meet Jack Taylor: ex-guard (Irish cop), sometime coke head, smart ass, bad son, on the wrong side of 50, full-time drunk. Ken Bruen's anti-hero is one of the more compelling characters in recent fiction, both debauched and sympathetic. Taylor stumbles into being a kind of private eye, but it's not the mystery so much that draws you in, as Taylor's raw, vulgar, yet soulful narration. As always, Bruen's storytelling it taut & potent, full of sordid detail & poetic flourishes. This is the first of many books featuring Taylor (also check out "The Killing of the Tinkers" & "The Magdalen Martyrs").

Sep 02, 2014

I thought I'd try these books after seeing the Jack Taylor tv shows. The writing is a bit different but I found I really enjoyed the book and the character. I will read more of them.

Feb 28, 2013

No action - boring. Inane conversations & just enough English/Irish...isms that i found it a little hard to read.This one wasn't for me.

May 26, 2012

I like Bruen. I love his Brant novels. But I can't get a grip on those Taylor books. They seem so disorganized and leading nowhere. Only the bottle keeps him alive, barely. I feel there’s no punch in these novels. Please Bruen, get back to writing Brant novels. I can't stand these disappointments.

Jan 09, 2012

The author has a staccato writing style that I definitely do not like; the book is mostly white space and if properly written it would be only 150 pages or so; it’s mostly about alcoholics and the good guys are often also the bad guys; this is the first book I have read by this author but its quality is so low that I definitely would not read any other of his many, many books.

Oct 06, 2011

Best of noir. Hopelessly drunk & often beaten up, Jack Taylor is still 'a hoor for books', loaded with quotes & references. I heard this book was good, but it was wa-a-ay better than good. Loved it.

Apr 18, 2011

The Guards by Ken Bruen is the first entry in his original series featuring Jack Taylor. Jack, currently living in Galway has the dubious record of having been expelled from the Irish police force, the Guardia for excessive drunkenness. He does the work of a PI but doesn’t like to refer to himself in that term as, in Ireland, it can be confused with the word “informer” which is mightily frowned upon.

This book is so much more than a crime story. In fact the crime is very much a secondary story, given to us in small doses. Instead it reads more like a diary, filled with Jack’s personal references, thoughts on life and on being Irish. With his unique writing style, Bruen has produced a intelligent, character driven story that has left me hungry for more.

A lot of books give you flawed heroes, but Jack Taylor stands heads and shoulders above them all. Stumbling through life, addicted to alcohol , prone to blackouts, creating one mess after another, Jack still has the ability to make you root for him. No matter how down and out he gets (and he seems to get pretty low), he manages to pick himself up and carry on. Jack is a book lover, or as he would say, “a hoor for books” and always has the appropriate quote for whatever situation he finds himself in.

I think this is the type of book one either loves or hates. It has a strong, hard-boiled style than may not appeal to everyone. As for me, Jack Taylor is a character I’m looking forward to reading more about. Irreverent and gritty, funny and wise, The Guards has just whetted my appetite.

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