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A Galway Epiphany: A Jack Taylor Novel

Review

A Galway Epiphany: A Jack Taylor Novel

There is a point in A GALWAY EPIPHANY when Jack Taylor compares his life’s miseries to those visited upon Job, who is regarded by a number of the world’s major religions as a man tested by God. Taylor’s woes, as chronicled by author Ken Bruen over the course of what is now 15 novels, give Job a run for his money, even though some of those trials and tribulations are the result of self-inflicted friendly fire.

Taylor’s life is a train wreck that you cannot help but watch, in large part because of Bruen’s beautifully bruised prose, which careens across the page in a stream-of-consciousness, where Bruen and Taylor (the lives of both seem conjoined at times) maintain at least a finger on the wheel, if not a grasp. The result has been --- and remains --- one of contemporary genre fiction’s most unique series.

"[Bruen's] battered, broken and troubled protagonist will crawl toward the finish line if need be, with a grim rejoinder on his lips, and is an inspiration to us all, even if he is the best of all bad examples."

Taylor is a former garda turned Galway private investigator who has a reputation for helping people in need. A GALWAY EPIPHANY finds him surrendering to substance abuse and in no shape to effectively help anyone, though that does not stop him from attempting to do so. Taylor finds himself with four problems here: He involves himself with a father whose daughter committed suicide as a result of cyberbullying. A brilliant but deranged arsonist is running loose in Galway and taunting Taylor. However, the most significant problem is a girl at the center of a religious miracle who may not be what she seems.

Taylor solves one of these matters rather quickly and handily, and finds that another is expeditiously taken care of by a friend. A third is ended by a deus ex machina of sorts that is ironically created by the target. The fourth...let us say that there may or may not be divine intervention involved. All of these stories play out gradually in one way or another over the course of A GALWAY EPIPHANY.

Futhermore, a long-standing acquaintance of Taylor’s is stricken with a debilitating disease and asks Taylor to kill him, a request that he is reluctant to fulfill. The narrative also takes several side alleys into music, literature, politics and social commentary, all of which are interesting and diverting (as opposed to distracting) as the plots continue to move along at Taylor’s staggering pace toward an ending that is foreshadowed but nevertheless chilling.

At least one long-running character bites the dust, as do a couple of individuals introduced in the recent past. Bruen has no qualms about taking people off the board, no matter how beloved they may be, and no doubt hears the shrieks of readers in his ears at night upon the publication of each new book. We keep coming back, though, and for excellent reasons. His battered, broken and troubled protagonist will crawl toward the finish line if need be, with a grim rejoinder on his lips, and is an inspiration to us all, even if he is the best of all bad examples. We wouldn’t have it any other way.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on November 6, 2020

A Galway Epiphany: A Jack Taylor Novel
by Ken Bruen

  • Publication Date: November 3, 2020
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery, Suspense, Thriller
  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Mysterious Press
  • ISBN-10: 0802157033
  • ISBN-13: 9780802157034