Review: Cross by Ken Bruen

Sensing a theme, aren’t you? I love Bruen.


Cross (kros/ noun, verb, & adjective) means an ancient instrument of torture, or, in a very bad humour, or, a punch thrown across an opponent’s punch. Jack Taylor brings death and pain to everyone he loves. His only hope of redemption – his surrogate son, Cody – is lying in hospital in a coma. At least he still has Ridge, his old friend from the Guards, though theirs is an unorthodox relationship. When she tells him that a boy has been crucified in Galway city, he agrees to help her search for the killer. Jack’s investigations take him to many of his old haunts where he encounters ghosts, dead and living. Everyone wants something from him, but Jack is not sure he has anything left to give. Maybe he should sell up, pocket his Euros and get the hell out of Galway like everyone else seems to be doing. Then the sister of the murdered boy is burned to death, and Jack decides he must hunt down the killer, if only to administer his own brand of rough justice.


I love Jack Taylor: good thing he’s fictional, because he is definitely made, bad and lethal to know. This is another addictive read: once you start a Bruen, it’s hard to put it down until you finish. Since I was supposed to be writing something myself, I forced myself to stop at each chapter and get back to work. Brutal — so is this narrative. Wow — the horror elements are front and center in this one. If you like it dark, you will love this one. Bruen often skirts the border between crime fiction and outright horror and this one definitely leans to the horror side. Some of the set pieces will really make you cringe. The only reason it’s four and not five stars is that there were a few instances of rough passages that jarred me out of the narrative. The editor should have been tougher! Nonetheless, that’s fairly minor and maybe something that most readers wouldn’t baulk at in the least. Visit Bruen’s Galway, the one the tourist office tries to hide!


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