Book Review: Ken Bruen’s The Devil

Posted August 10, 2011 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews

I received this book for free from the library in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Ken Bruen’s The Devil

The Devil


Ken Bruen

noir mystery in a paperback edition that was published by Transworld Ireland on May 13, 2010 and has 288 pages.

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Other books by this author which I have reviewed include A White Arrest, Taming the Alien, Headstone, The McDead, Blitz, Vixen, Calibre, Ammunition, Purgatory, The Ghosts of Galway

Eighth in the Jack Taylor suspense-mystery series set in Galway, Ireland involving an ex-Garda turned private investigator.

My Take

This was weird. So not like the usual Jack Taylor installment that Bruen normally writes. Jack is not the character I would ever have thought would be involved with the supernatural. And Bruen usually includes a lot more insight with the books Jack reads. In some ways, Bruen has mellowed Jack out…must be all that Xanax that Jack is popping, trying to stay off the drink and the cigs.

In some ways, Bruen’s treatment of the Devil is scarier than the usual Lucifer-infused tales if only because the Devil is in everything that we tend to see as normal human behavior. He sees all and uses his abilities/power to so easily force people into doing what they would never consider. It makes me wonder just where God is. It’s not like Mr. K is allowing most of the people he’s hurting in Bruen’s Devil a choice or to exercise their free will. He only chooses those who are talking to Jack, wishing him well, warning him, attempting to help, acting as a sounding board.

And, the odd thing is, the Devil’s interference seems to be making Jack a better man…

The Story

The economy is so far down the tubes in Ireland with unemployment and anger over the non-nationals snagging all the aid and free medical for which the locals don’t qualify skyrocketing and who should show up to ensure it all goes to the dogs…at least, those that manage to keep their heads. The Devil. Mr. K. Seems he’s pissed off at Jack for spoiling so many of his little side entertainments: the swan killer, the nun, the gypsies, all of it. And he’s taking out people for whom Jack cares. Heck, he’s taking out people to whom Jack even speaks! Even as he stalks Jack, tempting him to leave, to drop off his soul, to take that final step.

Only Jack takes a step the Devil didn’t expect whereas the Devil takes a step Jack had hoped against…when a single black candle burning on a special someone’s bedside table is discovered.

The Characters

Jack Taylor is an alcoholic and addicted to various forms of medication…besides the Jameson and Guiness. He believes in the power of the gun as well as the power of setting things right. You can’t corrupt him…he’s pretty much taken care of that himself. His life is full of regrets but not for doing what he believes is right. Kicked off the Garda, Jack has made a living as a PI, doing right for people who can’t buck against the powers that be.

Ridge is a Garda with whom he’s still a friend. She’s suffered through a radical mastectomy and is working for a better chance at promotion and suppressing her gay side by marrying into what amounts to gentry in Galway.

Stewart is probably Jack’s best friend. An ex-drug dealer whom Jack put in prison even though he’d supplied enough to Jack. He’s out now and deep into Zen, doing research for Jack, and still wearing his thousands-of-pounds suits, driving expensive cars.

The Cover and Title

Okay, the fanciful side of me sees this cover as a positive: Jack ascending a staircase with a gradient background of sunlit yellow rising through orange to blood-red to black. As though he’s beginning to walk in the light although his head is not yet there. The title…ooh, yeah, the title, The Devil is simply accurate as Jack is up against the Devil himself.