Thursday, March 10, 2011

Cross by Ken Bruen

Title: Cross
Author: Ken Bruen
ISBN: 9780312341428
Publisher: St. Martin's Minotaur, 2008
Hardcover, 288 pages
Genre: Hard-Boiled, Private Investigator, #6 Jack Taylor mystery
Rating: B+
Source: Purchased from Bookcloseouts.

First Line: It took them a time to crucify the kid.

Jack Taylor, free for the moment from drugs, booze and nicotine, would also like to be free of any sort of human involvement. He has a good reason for feeling this way: he brings pain and death to everyone he loves. His surrogate son, Cody, is lying in the hospital in a coma, and Jack visits everyday-- touching Cody, talking to him, trying to coax him back among the living.

In the meantime, dogs are going missing in a Galway neighborhood and one of the residents wants to hire Jack to find out what is happening. Ridge, his old friend from the Guards, lets her hair down. It seems she has a lump in her breast, and she's having a horrible time coping with all the males in the police force. When Jack says something about helping her, she then tells him that a boy has been found crucified, and if he could steer her to the killer, it could mean a promotion and better working conditions, and Jack can't say no.

It seems that everyone wants something from Jack, and he isn't sure he has anything left to give. At this point, the thought of disappearing sounds wonderful.

I normally have little patience for characters who are alcoholics or druggies. I can find alcoholics in my own family, and I have never ever understood the allure of drugs. However, depression I can understand, and Jack has more than his share. Through everything, his books have been the only friends who've never deserted him, and I can understand that, too. Perhaps that's why I cut Jack Taylor slack when I won't so many other characters in the same situation. I honestly don't know.

As the barman put the drinks down, I wondered if I should ask him his name. But then we'd probably get friendly and something terrible would happen to him.

If Jack Taylor can get you hooked, then your emotional involvement can be very high. The ending of one of the books in this series had me cry out loud in pain and shock and despair. I just don't do that... but I did do it when reading about Jack Taylor.

One of the plot threads in Cross was a bit too predictable, but it's still a lean, mean, beautifully written book. At this point, I simply have to know what happens to Jack.


  1. Cathy - Isn't it interesting how characters can engage one like that? It takes a deft hand to make a characters like Jack appealing enough that we want to know what happens to him. Thanks very much for the recommendation!

  2. Dark, depressive and incredibly readable. Bruen's Jack Taylor is Sam Spade...on drugs.

  3. When a new book's in the offing, I look forward to a new Jack Taylor more than books in any other series I read. Jack Taylor books aren't easy to read. But, for me, at least, they are powerful.

    I also see them as saying something deep about the institutional evilification of Christianity.

  4. Don't you love the words "institutional evilification"? I might as well have come out and said it, "the corruption of the church."

  5. Hardboiled + that first line? I don´t think I´ll add this one to the list :D

  6. Margot-- You're welcome!

    Mike B.-- Well... not in Cross! ;)

    Joe-- Jack Taylor books are very powerful and can be emotionally wrenching. I love the phrase "institutional evilification"!

    Dorte-- I didn't think you would, although you're "missing out"! ;)


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