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When Irish eyes aren't smiling

Shamrock In honor of St. Patrick's Day, let's hear from Ken Bruen, whose excellent, nasty, violent novel Cross continues his excellent, nasty, violent series about alcoholic ex-cop Jack Taylor in a Galway you won't recognize if you've only seen the tourist posters.

"...was it just me or was the country getting crazier? Religion, however heavyCross  its hand, had for centuries provided a ballast against despair. Mired in more and more disgrace, the people no longer had much faith in the clergy providing anything other than tabloid fodder. It probably explained why every new-fangled cult had managed to find a congregation in the city. Even the Scientologists had an office. We were expecting Tom Cruise any day."

Cross, I think, is my favorite of the Taylor novels (there are six). This one involves a crucified boy, disappearing dogs and - enticingly - the possibility that the tormented Taylor may actually leave Ireland for the USA. It's a fast read, bleak and gloomy as an Irish winter day. I'm sure the Galway Tourism Board doesn't applaud Bruen's view of the city, but I do.

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