Bruen's iconic Irishman, Jack Taylor, PI, is a colorful rogue, a drunk who has weathered the incongruencies of his own life and collected his share of enemies. Knocking back his whiskey of choice, Taylor provides no end of insights into Irish culture, troubled history and the pervasive influence of Holy Mother Church on the population. For all the enemies he has made along the way- and they are many and bitter- Jack remains the go-to investigator, formerly on the force, whose wily methods and willingness to do harm when necessary brings results. In Headstone, Jack's associate, former drug-dealer and current Zen practitioner Stewart and Garda Ridge, a lesbian in a marriage of convenience with little hope of career promotion, appear to be the only constants in a ruined life, but even they are frequently driven to distraction by the incorrigible Taylor and his destructive ways.
His past littered with losses, Jack is temporarily euphoric, filled with hope for the first time in years awaiting the arrival of a lady he has met in England when a threat from a violent group targeting society's weakest citizens suggests serious troubling brewing, violence that will include Taylor, Ridge and Stewart as collateral. But Jack is sidetracked by a lucrative finder's fee earned from a cold-eyed prelate that ends tragically. Likewise, hiss efforts to save a friend's daughter from a greedy spouse turn sour in the light of day, Jack reeling with outrage and betrayal. Then Taylor is trapped in a nightmare, proof of the limitless cruelties of God's creatures. Splayed across a headstone by the evil cult, Jack is given a lesson by some nasty individuals, one of whom holds a serious grudge against him, Garda Ridge and Stewart in imminent danger as well, serious wrongs to be avenged. Bruen's writing is so utterly charming and curmudgeonly, acerbic and authentic, it is impossible not to fall in love with his flawed protagonist, an unredeemable drunk with an ear for poetry, a love of whiskey, a conscience that flickers to life in his dreams and a scarred heart made to be broken. Luan Gaines/2011.