Thursday 5 December 2013


Talk of the town just now is Philomena, the movie. It tells the story of a woman who was a victim of one of the wicked manifestations of the Catholic Church. The film looks OK. I may see it one day, perhaps on DVD. However it plays out, I’m pretty sure it won’t be able to shine a prayer-candle to Ken Bruen’s The Magdalen Martyrs.
I loved Jack Taylor before arriving at this novel. It’s difficult not to. He articulates his inner workings with charm, humour and a good deal of learned profundity.
Here, he becomes involved in 2 cases. The first is to investigate a rather interesting woman who likes her drink and whose ex-husband suspects is guilty of murder. The second, a job from a killer whom he couldn’t turn down, is to track down an old lady with associations with the Magdalen Laundry.
The cases are hugely interesting in themselves and give the book its movement and superbly dimensioned characters.  Although that’s crucial to the plot, the main story is one of addiction – the effects of intoxicants, withdrawal, black-outs, extreme actions, hallucination, self-loathing, guilt, depression, the works.
Jack moves from the booze to pills to periods of abstinence.  As he plods through each phase, he sees his reflection the world and the people around him. He talks about his life and his failings in such an articulate and entertaining way that I doubt there can have been many better accounts of these extremes. Bruen would argue with this last statement and win because he knows far more than I – each chapter begins with a quote that has been selected perfectly to set a tone or underline a point.
Talking of quotes, here’s one of his own that I rather cared for:
“I can’t blame books for the chaos of my life, but they’ve always been there on the journey.”
This novel works wonderfully on so many levels. It’s a brilliant piece and one that only emphasises Bruen’s right to be accorded such a high status within the crime-writing world and the world of literature.


  1. Bruen is the beacon of sanity in a ever confusing and chaotic world. Unlike Philomena, Bruen is not one to forgive so easily. Long may he write!

  2. I love Ken Bruen, and in fact am reading The Dramatist right now. Gotta kind of pace these out as even if he writes for a good long time to come, it will be a sad day when I'm all caught up.

  3. Mate, you're not stuck in the Phillipines are you?

    Had a very strange email from you, and follow-ups!

    Yes Stephen, If that's what you have at the moment.
    what ever you can send to me right now will help a long way and i promise to have if refund once o get back home.please keep me posted as soon as you are done with the transfer details.
    I won you a lot.

    Date: Fri, 6 Dec 2013 11:31:28 +0000
    Subject: Re: NEED YOUR HELP........(NIGEL BIRD)

    Wouldn't dollars be better, Nigel?

    On Friday, 6 December 2013, 18:27, NIGEL BIRD wrote:

    Hi Stephen
    I am so glad you are willing to help, i need about £1,650 to sort out the bills and have my ticket straightened out but if not all, what ever you can send to me right now will help a long way, you can have it wired to me through Western Union Money Transfer so that i can receive it in minutes, below are the details you need to effect the transfer.

    Receiver's Name: NIGEL BIRD
    Location Address: United Nations Avenue,Corner Ma.Orosa Street, Ermita,Manila 1000,Metro
    Manila( Philippines).

    Once it is done kindly send me the WU confirmation details for pick up of funds, please let me know if you are heading out to Western Union now?

    Date: Fri, 6 Dec 2013 11:18:36 +0000
    Subject: Re: NEED YOUR HELP........(NIGEL BIRD)

    What a nightmare!

    Of course I will send you money by Western Union. How much do you need?

    On Friday, 6 December 2013, 17:27, NIGEL BIRD wrote:
    Good morning

    I Hope you get this on time, I made a short trip to Manila(Philippines) and had my bag stolen from me with my passport and personal effects therein. The embassy has just issued me a temporary passport but I have to pay for a ticket and settle my hotel bills with the Manager.

    I have made contact with my bank but it would take me 3-5 working days to access funds in my account, the bad news is my flight will be leaving very soon but i am having problems settling the hotel bills and the hotel manager won't let me leave until i settle the bills, I need your help/LOAN financially and I promise to make the refund once i get back home, you are my last resort and hope, Please let me know if i can count on you and i need you to keep checking your email because it's the only way you can get to me.

    Please reply back and let me know if you will be able to loan me the cash so that i can give you the necessary details you will need to get the cash to me via western union money transfer, i promise to pay you back as soon as i get home.
    Best Regards


  4. Thanks Stephen - no, I'm not. I don't write that well for a start. Sorry to say I've been hacked, but I think I'm clean again now.