Galway Confidential: A Jack Taylor Mystery

Image of Galway Confidential: A Jack Taylor Mystery (Jack Taylor Mysteries)
Release Date: 
March 5, 2024
Mysterious Press
Reviewed by: 

“What saves it are the meticulous descriptions of the people and places populating the story, the surprising and satisfying twist at the end, and the author's entertaining way of slipping in comments about current events at the time of the writing.”

Not many readers will be able to pass up the intriguing and distressing plot premise of this book: two nuns bludgeoned to death by a mysterious man with a hammer. Fans of Ken Bruen's Jack Taylor Mystery series will love it.

Others maybe not so much.

Readers have mixed reactions to the flawed hero Jack Taylor, a smart mouthed world weary former cop, friend to the homeless, owner of an inherited horse farm, and serial imbiber of Jameson by the pint who has a habit of knocking off wiseacre punchy one-liners that are either hilarious or insulting. Or both. To everyone. Either way Jack Taylor would be a hard man to get close to in real life. Let alone like.

The story is set in Ireland and opens with Jack waking up after an 18-month coma unable to remember what happened to him. Sitting by his hospital bed is a man named Raferty who offers him a swig out of a flask. Taylor gladly imbibes despite the iffy condition of his health.

But then Taylor is not known for making the best life decisions for himself.

Taylor is released from the hospital, and after two months of physical therapy is sitting in a pub with Raferty when a woman approaches. She introduces herself as Sheila Winston, a former nun, and tells him that two nuns have been murdered. She's worried about more attacks. The police are too busy to take up the case, so she offers him money to investigate privately.

"'You ask for help but where on earth am I supposed to begin?'

"She gave me a long look, then,

"'You are supposed to be good at this.'

"I told her the truth.

"'I was never good at it. I got lucky a few times and most of the cases got solved despite me, not because of me.'"

"'You have a very dim view of yourself.'

"I said,

"'You have no idea.'"

As feared, another nun is killed, the victim found laid out on the altar. When Taylor meets with the Mother Superior, he realizes he is their last resort and reluctantly agrees to look for the killer.

A few chapters later the story takes a sharp 180-degree detour when Taylor receives an urgent message from Geary, one of his street people friends. Homeless people are being murdered on the street. Geary asks Taylor to look into it.

"'Are you hiring me?'

"He nodded.

"I handed the money back to him.

"'I'll try but I can't promise anything.'

"He gave me a long look, said,

"'Jack, you have solved cases that no one else would even attempt.'

"I told the truth.

"'Cases got solved around me, very rarely did I actually find the solution.'"

But of course, Taylor agrees to look into those murders, too. Pretending to be homeless he takes to the street.

"The first night on the street, I set up my vigil off Merchant's Road, around eleven o'clock at night. Got the sleeping bag spread out and tentatively pulled it up around me. I couldn’t settle on a position, to lie down or sit up? . . ."

His plan does not end well, and the story switches up again.

"Sister Aloysius liked the quiet shrine beside St. Patrick's church. It was well back from the road and yet within a prayer of the parish priest's house. Mother Superior would be angry she was on her own but how long could one decade of the rosary take?

"Almost out of nowhere, a man appeared. He was dressed in black and stood about five yards from her. He was carrying a backpack, and she estimated his age at about thirty. He was of average height, regular features. He gave her a warm smile, asked,

"Is it safe for a nun to be out alone these days?"

"And something in his tone chilled her. She said,

"'My friend is in the church and will be out any moment.'

"He let out a long sigh.

"'A lying nun, that's not good.'"

It needs to be said right about here that this book is a compelling if difficult read due to the tossed off narrative and dialogue, the winding path of the plot, and the unfamiliar stylized formatting, i.e., the broken sentencing and paragraphing with occasional bits of pithy internal dialogue peppered in along the way.

What saves it are the meticulous descriptions of the people and places populating the story, the surprising and satisfying twist at the end, and the author's entertaining way of slipping in comments about current events at the time of the writing. COVID, the lockdown, war in Ukraine, the Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell scandal, Roe v. Wade, the heat wave in Ireland, the Salmon Rushdie attack, the document raid of President Trump's Florida home, Queen Elizabeth's death, the new King Charles, and much more.

The Jack Taylor series has been picked up for TV and streaming.