Taylor has recently emerged from the asylum, after his friends'
daughter died while under his watch. Still clinging to Item 8234,
his symbol of defiance from a wrecked career as an Irish policeman,
he rejoins life in his hometown.
Jack has good intentions --- he really does --- but his bad
attitude keeps getting in the way. Fortunately, he doesn't always
say what he thinks. Not always, just often. Too often, probably.
Sometimes, though, his first thought is what he should go with. He
just doesn't. If you can say nothing else about him, you have to
admit that Jack is honest. Still his own worst enemy, he also has a
few others pursuing him in PRIEST, although he is making strides
--- slow, short strides --- toward improving his life.
A few good things happen to him, although mostly in the midst of
several bad things. Still a bit disoriented from his stay in the
"madhouse," he barely has time to ponder his next move when Ban
Garda Ridge --- with whom he has a frustrating and tenuous
friendship --- mentions the dead priest, Father Joyce. Not wanting
to hear the details, he nonetheless does. It is not a pretty
"Especially in the current climate…you hear about priests
now, it ain't going to be good, it's not going to be a
heart-warming tale about some poor dedicated soul who spent fifty
years among some remote tribe and then they ate him. No, it's going
to be bad, and scandalous."
Of course, it was bad and scandalous. The victim, if we can call
him that, was one of the priests who amused himself with altar
boys. Those altar boys did not grow up happy and well adjusted.
Their lives were shattered, and what little success they achieved
in the world came at great cost. Did one of them snap after all
these years, or did the priest have other enemies? Jack looks into
it initially because he is asked to, but eventually he finds that
he can't leave it be, even when some rogue Garda types attempt to
warn him off.
While trying to find his way in post-loonybin Galway, an eager
young lad named Cody hooks up with Jack, following Jack like a
stray puppy. He says he wants to be partners and has always admired
Jack, his role model. Jack indulges Cody as a gunslinger indulges a
kid with a peashooter. Cody amuses, and even flatters, Jack, who
surprises himself by liking the fellow.
Well, things start to go pretty well for Jack, but you know that
can't last. And it doesn't. How he's going to pull himself out of
the depths of despair after this latest disaster is anybody's
guess, but my money is on Ken Bruen to bring Jack back for yet
another case. At least, I sure hope he does. The Jack Taylor novels
must have a cult following by now.
Reviewed by Kate Ayers on January 19, 2011