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Purgatory (Jack Taylor Novel) Hardcover – November 4, 2013
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Top Customer Reviews
The Taylor series is strong stuff: violent and sometimes downright vicious, sparsely written in a voice bordering on poetry, and that's part of the problem with "Purgatory" -- the lyrical prose that is a hallmark of Bruen's remarkable style is muted here, undermined by a patched-together plot by a writer who seems tired of the series and its characters. Perhaps part of the problem is that for much of the book, Taylor is sober, off drugs, and not smoking and not particularly liking how he feels. Regardless, the book feels like the first half of a two-parter aiming to bring the series to a close. If that's right, let's hope the second half finishes stronger.
If you have not read Bruen before, I urge you not to start with "Purgatory," which isn't Bruen or Taylor at their best. That said, even less than top-notch work by Ken Bruen is far better than most.
Purgatory picks up where Headstone left off. I'm still enjoying this series, though I'm starting to think Bruen might be getting a little bored with it. He's always had story arcs that go from book to book, but this one seems a little cheesy in the way it doesn't resolve much so that it can set up a sequel. For the record, I hate books that do that, but I like Ken Bruen, so I'll let this one slide.
There's the usual angst, drinking, and drugging. Ridge seems to have mellowed a tad (unfortunately - I've always liked her wioth piss and vinegar), and Bruen takes aim at an unctuous lawyer in this one, who really is too easy a target for someone of Bruen's talent. The plot here seems more contrived than usual, and I found myself wishing that Bruen was better with structuring his stories - he'll change point of view in the middle of a chapter, and the effect can be jarring. Why he doesn't signal this with a new chapter is a mystery to me, but hey, he's the writer and he can do what he wants.
I think you probably either like Bruen and Jack Taylor or you don't, and I do. My usual reaction to Jack is to feel for him, for his messed up family background, his bad decisions, his attempt to do the right thing (but often in the wrong way). This time around I felt like he was losing his self-respect (and some of mine). The idea that Jack would willingly hang around with a complete git like Reardon flew in the face of everything I've always liked about Jack. This is in the service of a plot, I realize, but the idea of Jack working for someone like that? It was too much of a stretch for me.
Still, I'll read the next one because I'll get an announcement that it's been published and I'll order it the same day. As I sit here typing this, I realize that Bruen is one of those writers whose worst books are still pretty decent. In contrast, once a writer turns me off with a bad book, I almost never give them a second chance. This makes the book sound worse than it is - and for me 3 stars means it was good, not "It's Okay" (the Amazon phrase that goes with 3 stars). But, like Jack Taylor, I use my own ranking system, dammit.
And entered quite a different world of reading. Fascinating , but at times, difficult reading. His style, with its interior dialogs with Taylor talking to, reproving, observing and despising himself, took a bit of getting used to, but once I did, I resolved to read every book I could get my hands on.
Jack Taylor has every bad habit there is: smoking, drinking, doping, sneering, apostasy, cynicism and truth. He backslides
and crawls forward. The Purgatory of the title is about modern Ireland, a repository for lost dreams and people with a broken spirit, and, of course, for Jack himself. These are the noir-est of noir novels.
Written in short , punchy sentences, lyricism and insight that I hardly expected in a crime novel, "Purgatory" captivated me. Now, I have to catch up to see what I missed. It did not hurt my enjoyment of the book, but there was a lot of important background to Jack Taylor's life I need to discover.
Warning: lots of micro- aggressions, crude language, some violence. Definitely not not for anyone expecting a tourist Ireland, or a blarney-spouting Irish cop.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I'm really tired, and many readers I talk to, of authors killing off characters because the author doesn't have the imagination or...Read more