Review of THE EMERALD LIE
Jack Taylor is typically a disaster of a man, teetering between always-tenuous sobriety and dedicated addiction to alcohol and…well, whatever’s handy. Jack drank himself off of Ireland’s police force, the Garda Siochana, twelve novels ago, and he’s been spending his time as a freelance investigator…when he can lift his head off of the bar. THE EMERALD LIE doesn’t spend any time allowing Taylor to flirt with sobriety. The tale picks up shortly after the events of GREEN HELL, with Jack still on the outs with Ridge and suffering the attendant guilt. So, he’s drinking. Because Jack drinks like he’s preparing to represent Ireland when boozing becomes an Olympic sport.
Jack is approached by a father grieving the brutal murder of his daughter. He’s heard tell of Taylor’s penchant for vengeance, and is interested in renting some. Jack takes the wad of cash offered him, after reluctantly accepting that torture-porn filmmakers probably deserve a visit. However, he is soon pulled in another direction when a serial killer begins to operate in Galway. The Grammarian murders those he hears butchering the language, and has captured the deadly attention of Em, the dangerous fatale from GREEN HELL, who once again hurricanes into Jack’s life and lifts the proverbial shit fan-ward.
THE EMERALD LIE is less a whodunit than a whogivesadamn. It rests somewhere between a character study and an anguish poem, and it’s to Bruen’s credit that it remains so readable. It’s a rare feat to make a miserable drunk with questionable ethics as endearing as Bruen accomplishes with Taylor. If you are a sucker for through-line plots, breakneck action, and twisty puzzlers, this might not be the book for you. However, the prose is often beautiful, the characters are engrossing, there are valuable and quotable lessons within, and you will certainly come away with a list of new material to read/watch/hear.
In all, THE EMERALD LIE isn’t the best of Taylor’s outings. It should, however, rank amongst Bruen’s faithful as another thoroughly enjoyable visit with the crotchety bastard.