Friday Reviews: Purgatory by Ken Bruen

Purgatory by Ken BruenPurgatory

Ken Bruen

Jack Taylor has been through hell. He’s had fingers chopped off. He’s going deaf. Alcohol and Xanax threaten to do him in despite fits of sobriety. He’s even had a run-in with the Devil. or so he thinks.

And now, someone calling themselves C33 is pretending to be Dexter, a serial killer who targets bad guys. And C33, who, in certain POV scenes, freely admits to being a psychopath, wants Jack to play a game. Jack doesn’t bite. He’s come into some money and, in the wake of the Celtic Tiger’s collapse, just wants to sit out the austerity that has come to Galway. But Zen pal Stewart wants to take out C33. So does Ridge, Jack’s cop friend who, despite being a lesbian on a male-dominated force, has made sergeant. Meanwhile, a tech mogul named Reardon comes to Galway intent on buying and squandering the city. With him comes his assistant, Kelly, an American woman who takes a shine to Jack.

Bruen paints a bleak picture of Ireland as it reals from the euro crisis during the Great Recession. Gone is the vibrant, booming Galway of previous Taylor books. In its place, a city of people worried about losing their homes and with a seething hatred of their government. Not the British government. The Irish government.

Ridge and Stewart have major scenes here and are POV characters, as is the mysterious C33. The transitions are sometimes confusing as Jack’s scenes don’t always start with “I” in the first few lines. However, spiritual co-author of this book seems to be Oscar Wilde. Kelly, Jack, and even Stewart constantly quote or talk about him. Even C33 is a Wilde reference, the number of the playwright’s cell at Reading Gaol.

As with the previous Taylors, I keep wondering how much more Jack can endure. This one has an ending almost as harrowing and sudden as The Dramatist.