In The Emerald Lie, the latest terror to be visited upon the dark Galway streets arrives in a most unusual form: a Cambridge graduate who becomes murderous over split infinitives, dangling modifiers, and any other sign of bad grammar. Meanwhile, Jack is approached by a grieving father with a pocketful of cash on offer if Jack will help exact revenge on those responsible for his daughter's brutal rape and murder. Though hesitant to get involved, Jack agrees to get a read on the likely perpetrators. But Jack is soon derailed by the reappearance of Emily (previous alias: Emerald), the chameleon-like young woman who joined forces with Jack to take down her pedophile father in Green Hell and who remains passionate, clever, and utterly homicidal. She will use any sort of coercion to get Jack to conspire with her against the serial killer the Garda have nicknamed "the Grammarian," but her most destructive obsession just might be Jack himself.
- ISBN-13: 9780802125460
- ISBN-10: 0802125468
- Publisher: Mysterious Press
- Publish Date: August 2016
- Page Count: 256
- Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.8 x 1.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.15 pounds
Series: Jack Taylor Novels
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2016-07-04
- Reviewer: Staff
Brooding thoughts of suicide and loss haunt Jack Taylor in Irish author Bruen’s desultory 12th novel featuring the Galway PI and former Garda officer (after 2015’s Green Hell). Of course, Jack is also preoccupied with lists of the authors he has been reading, the music he listens to, and the TV shows he binge watches. The main menace this round may be the Grammarian, who kills over gaffes in speech. But a side trip to London puts Jack in the sphere of another criminal with an interest in young children. Series regulars such as the deadly Emily/Emerald and Sergeant Ridge, a former police colleague of Jack’s, make the scene, though Galway and its living history trumps the players that strut across the stage. With his easy episodic survey of the moment-to-moment in Jack’s life—each sip of Jameson, every walking of the dog, the sudden beatings and murders—Bruen remains on the mountaintop of contemporary Irish noir. Sprightly, elliptical prose is a plus (“the ubiquitous McDonald’s bag. In my time, weapons are always delivered thus”). Agent: Lukas Ortiz, Philip G. Spitzer Literary Agency. (Sept.)
Whodunit: American fishermen snared in Cuba's net
State Department crisis manager Judd Ryker returns in a late summer beach read, Ghosts of Havana, the third in Todd Moss’ diplomatic thriller series. Ryker is summoned to intervene on behalf of four American sport fishermen who have strayed into Cuban territorial waters and promptly been arrested by the Cuban navy. As in real life, the Cuban situation is complicated, and there are powerful forces on both sides of the U.S./Cuba reconciliation issue. Ryker finds himself in the middle of something much more sensitive and multilayered than the simple rescue mission he had anticipated. And Ryker is no Jason Bourne; he’s kind of professorial, preferring negotiation over pyrotechnics every time. His wife, a CIA operative, is cut from different cloth, however. And although they have sworn never to work on the same case again, they’re finding themselves drawn into the vortex of this delicate situation. Moss brings a wealth of personal experience to his narrative; he was deputy assistant secretary of state, at one time responsible for relations with 16 West African countries. Now he works in a D.C. think tank and serves as an adjunct professor at Georgetown University—lofty credentials indeed, and put to very good use in his writing.
A POIROT PUZZLE
Hercule Poirot, perhaps the greatest detective of all time, once again twirls his luxurious mustache in consternation as he sifts through obscure clues and red herrings in Sophie Hannah’s second homage to Agatha Christie (with whom she shares the writing credit), Closed Casket. Poirot is summoned to the Ireland home of Lady Athelinda Playford, a novelist of some note, where he is to bear witness to a dramatic change in her will, in which she will disinherit her children and leave the entirety of her considerable estate to Joseph Scotcher, her personal secretary who is in the final stages of terminal kidney disease. The point becomes somewhat moot that very evening, when someone uses an antique club to bash poor Scotcher’s head in. There are suspects aplenty: Playford’s children and their significant others; the young woman recently betrothed to the victim; a pair of solicitors; Scotland Yard detective Edward Catchpool; an assortment of household staff; and of course the redoubtable M. Poirot. As in the best of locked-room mysteries, the killer must be one of them, but which one? For those who grew up devouring the Poirot mysteries, Closed Casket seems like the latest in an unbroken chain. You’ll totally forget that you’re not reading something straight from the (ghostly) pen of Dame Agatha.
DREADED RED PEN
Regular readers of Ken Bruen’s moderne noir series featuring Irish ex-cop Jack Taylor will find lots to like in his latest dark thriller, The Emerald Lie. Together with sociopathic (perhaps psychopathic) Em/Emily/Emerald, the femme fatale who bedeviled Taylor in 2015’s Green Hell, he pursues a serial killer nicknamed the Grammarian, who lethally targets people who misuse the Queen’s English. To simply describe the setup of the plot is to pay short shrift to Bruen’s prodigious writing skills. His books are atmospheric to the max, albeit an atmosphere redolent of Irish damp and chill. His characters are fueled by avarice, obsession and Jameson whiskey. His writing is peppered with world-weary and witty observations, and it’s nigh impossible to read a Bruen book without unearthing new music to listen to, TV shows to watch, books to read—such is Taylor’s devotion to, or perhaps reliance upon, pop culture. It’s simply not to be missed. That is all.
TOP PICK IN MYSTERY
Three Pines, Québec, is a town straight out of a Currier & Ives lithograph, a town where everyone knows one another as intimately as extended family, a town where secrets do not remain secrets for long. Think Bedford Falls of It’s a Wonderful Life, modernized and Frenchified un petite peu. It’s the home of Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of Sûreté du Québec, now back to work as head of the notoriously corrupt Sûreté Academy after a foiled attempt at retirement. A Great Reckoning, the 12th Gamache novel from legendary Canadian novelist Louise Penny, centers on an old map found hidden in the wall of a Three Pines bistro. Dismissed by some as just a curiosity, a copy of the map shows up in the bedside table of a murdered man, casting immediate suspicion on a small group of Academy cadets—and on Gamache as well, as there was no love lost between Gamache and the sadistically corrupt victim. The magic of Penny’s books lies in the details: the intricacies of the relationships; the vivid rendering of small village life; the thematic overlays of weakness vs. power, malleable youth vs. world-weary experience and corruption vs. innate honesty.