In this one, Jack has returned from what seems to have been a rather bungled time in London. It is not exactly a "hero returns in triumph" sort of scenario. In fact, he's actually added to his collection of addictions. And that's not the only thing he's acquired, either. But Taylor is almost immediately offered what seems like a pretty sweet deal involving free lodging in exchange for trying to figure out who has been killing the Irish tinkers, who, as Taylor is later told, should more accurately be referred to as "the clans".
Of course, the deal is not as sweet as it first looks. Associating with the clans is not the best way to make yourself popular, Taylor discovers, as he wanders around Galway trying to understand the situation, and of course giving us an insider's tour of the place in the bargain. He--and Bruen--also give us a literary tour of things both author and character have read. It's an education in itself, in crime fiction perhaps especially, but you'll get William Burroughs and Thomas Merton and Khalil Gibran too before you're done.
It's funny, because I was listening to an interview that Rick Kleffel did with Jonathan Lethem on the radio the other night on his new book The Ecstasy of Influence. This is Letham's twist on that old trope "the Agony of Influence" and his idea is that you should welcome and embrace all the previous works that have shaped you. He said that novels tend to hide their influences by the nature of the way they are written.
Maybe, but this is not the way Ken Bruen writes a novel, much to my pleasure and continuing edification.