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The Guards

By: Ken Bruen
Narrated by: Gerry O'Brien
Series: Jack Taylor, Book 1
Length: 4 hrs and 37 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (9 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Still stinging from his unceremonious ouster from the Garda Siochana, and staring at the world through the smoky bottom of his beer mug, Jack Taylor is stuck in Galway with nothing to look forward to. He is teetering on the brink of his life's sharpest edges, his memories of the past cutting deep into his soul and his prospects for the future non-existent.

Until a dazzling woman walks into the bar with a strange request and a rumour about Jack's talent for finding things. Odds are he won't be able to climb off his barstool long enough to get involved, but when he surprises himself by getting hired, Jack has little idea of what he's getting into.

©2001 Ken Bruen (P)2009 Isis Publishing Ltd

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Lots of character and style but a thin plot

This is not a crime thriller but the record of a good man in decline through drink. Jack Taylor brings destruction not only on himself but also on those sround him. He doesn't pretend to be a great detective - and he's not. The suspected murder he is investigating is resolved not by him, but by others and the ending is suitably ironic.

This is a novel crying out to be heard rather than read and the narration is excellent.The style is a cross between James Joyce and Raymond Chandler. Jack is well-read, and if you are too, you will enjoy the literary allusions.

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  • John
  • 09-08-2013

This is literature, not just crime fiction

A friend told me I should check out this book.
I did.
I was afraid I'd get hooked.
I am.
Friends tell me I now talk like Jack Taylor as rendered by the marvelous Gerry O'Brien
I do.

This is a wonderfully written, humorous and touching story. The crime is nearly beside the point. I'm lining up the Ken Bruen books now and plan to devour them one after another.

Great stuff.

21 of 21 people found this review helpful

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  • Avi Stachenfeld
  • 27-03-2012

BRUEN...THE BEST

...of all mystery writers, bruen is the best...writer, that is...the story is just along for the ride... a unique knack for dialogue, an unrivaled knowledge of music and literature... an ability to find a poignant phrase that speaks to the deepest parts of each of us...never a word in excess... orwell would be proud! the reader, gerry o'brien, a perfect complement to bruen's prose.

10 of 10 people found this review helpful

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  • Lawrence
  • 07-01-2013

Almost flawless

Bruen captures the pathos and humour of a drunken Irish dick. Self destructive and so human, it is hard not to identify with the lead (I can't call him hero) of this book. Beckett meets Chandler and a stone bottle of cheap gin.

Offered wine after a dinner of a six pack of beer, Jack says, "Ah fuckit man," then confides that that is the abridged version of the Serenity Prayer.

You get the picture.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Gavin
  • 19-02-2011

Great book for alcoholics

ThIs is basically about drinking. The author is pretty funny, and the main character is likable. But something was missing.

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

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  • Dan
  • 10-11-2013

Ireland's answer to Harry Hole

I really love Taylor's flawed character. The dialogue held the classic sort of Irish humor I'd hoped for. My only complaint is that I wished it had gone on longer.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Terry
  • 08-10-2013

Hated this book.

This book was not at all what is was portrayed to be about. This was more about the problems of alcoholism than a murder mystery.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Sharon
  • 25-12-2017

Wonderful

I almost passed on this book due to all the negative reviews about main character's drinking problem. Not sure what their issues are. This was a great story with interesting and well developed characters. Very Irish Loved it and plan on listening to the whole series

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Cheryl
  • 23-03-2014

A drunken hero . . . sounds lovely, huh?

I did not like the way that the author, Ken Bruen, continuely went on and on about Jack Taylor’s alcoholism. It took away from the plot of the story.

The character, Jack, self-pitied himself, couldn’t find love, and couldn’t stop drinking. It got a little annoying and lost the focus of the plot, finding out who murdered the girl.

I was definitely glad when the story was over. I don’t think that I will continue with the series “The Killing of the Tinkers.” I have a feeling the author will continue to have Jack’s alcoholism lead the story.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Margaret
  • 20-01-2019

Flawed character so flawed he's your drunk uncle

Shambling drunk who can't stay sober or in one piece - that's the crime solving guy, Jack Taylor. While his colorful language and insouciance draws the reader in at first, the character is so self-destructive that after a while he becomes irritating. It doesn't help that his best friend is a sociopath and he doesn't get it. I liked the book enough to get to the end, but I'm not with child to read the rest of the series. Excellent narrator who breathes life into the often hilarious dialogue.

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  • Tim
  • 23-08-2018

A little to much drunk

The story has potential, I got tired of the guy being drunk all the time. It seemed more a story of an alcoholic and his troubles than a murder mystery.

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  • Fergus Anthony Dolan
  • 09-08-2019

Hidden gem

I stumbled across this. A rambling plot does not diminish an outstanding prose. Beautifully read. This could be a magnificent writer, I look forward to the next book.

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  • Mr StuartC67
  • 09-02-2017

Watched the TV show.

Watched the TV show, So I had to get the book. I really enjoyed both but as you all know so much more detail in the book.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Deirdre
  • 26-08-2012

ok

I chose this book because i was looking for books narrated by Gerry O Brien. Enjoyable but forgettable. Not a patch on others he has narrated.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Heike
  • 15-04-2011

Undervalued Gem!

I cannot understand why Ken Bruen does no get the recognition he deserves. If you like scandinavian crime novels with slightly dysfunctional protagonists who have an unhealthy relationship with booze, you will love Jack Taylor. However in contrary to his nordic counterparts he is not permanently close to depression but displays a very Irish cynicism. The crime itself plausibly developed.
Listening to Gerry O'Brien as a narrator is a pleasure (I hate it when Irish books are read by English narrators). If you are looking for an intelligent but witty crime novel, go for it!