Bruen, Ken 1951-

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BRUEN, Ken 1951-

PERSONAL: Born 1951, in Galway, Ireland; married; children: one daughter. Education: Trinity College, Ph.D. (metaphysics). Hobbies and other interests: Sailing, travel, football.

ADDRESSES: Home—Galway, Ireland, and London, England. Offıce—c/o Author Mail, Do-Not Press, 16 The Woodlands, London SE13 6TY, England. Agent— Svetlana Ramon, 127 Blvd. Voltaire, Paris, France. E-mail—[email protected].

CAREER: Worked as an English teacher in Africa, Japan, Southeast Asia, and South America. Worked for a brief period as a security guard at the World Trade Center. Actor in a horror film directed by Roger Corman.

MEMBER: PEN, Irish Writers Union.

AWARDS, HONORS: Edgar Allan Poe nomination for best novel, Mystery Writers of America, 2004, for The Guards.


Rilke on Black, Serpent's Tail (New York, NY), 1996.

The Hackman Blues, Bloodlines (London, England), 1997.

Her Last Call to Louis MacNeice, Serpent's Tail (New York, NY), 1998.

A White Arrest, Bloodlines (London, England), 1998.

Taming the Alien, Bloodlines (London, England), 1999.

The McDead, Bloodlines (London, England), 2000.

The Guards, Brandon (Dingle, Ireland), 2001.

London Boulevard, Do-Not Press (London, England), 2001.

The Killing of the Tinkers: A Jack Taylor Story, Brandon (Dingle, Ireland), 2002.

The White Trilogy (contains A White Arrest, Taming the Alien, and The McDead), Kate's Mystery Books (Boston, MA), 2003.

Blitz, Do-Not Press (London, England), 2003.

ADAPTATIONS: A film version of Her Last Call to Louis MacNeice is in production. The White Trilogy has been bought for television by Deep Indigo Productions.

WORK IN PROGRESS: Another Jack Taylor novel.

SIDELIGHTS: Ken Bruen has worked as an English teacher in Africa, Japan, Southeast Asia, and South America. In 1979 Bruen took a teaching position in Rio de Janeiro. Soon after he arrived there he was arrested for his involvement in a fight that occurred in a bar. His captors tortured and sexually assaulted him. When he was released and returned to London, Bruen was traumatized by his experience and contemplated suicide, but reconsidered. Instead, he says in a Justin, Charles, & Company Web site author biography, "I decided to write books, just to prove to myself that I was still alive if nothing else," and his writing career was launched.

Bruen's first book, Rilke on Black, elicited praise for its rendering of the dregs of contemporary popular culture. The well-regarded debut was followed by the The Hackman Blues, in which Tony Brady is hired by Jack Dunphy, who happens to resemble the actor Gene Hackman, to find his daughter, Roz. Tony easily finds Roz being held by club owner Leon in a rough London neighborhood. Jack instructs Tony to pay off Leon in order to get his daughter back, but Tony has a plan of his own. He decides to kidnap Roz himself, keep Jack's money, and also receive a payoff from Leon, who wants her back. Tony's plan backfires, however, and he soon finds his life in danger. Library Journal contributor Bob Lunn concluded, "Readers of hardboiled British mysteries such as those by Quintin Jardine and Ian Rankin should enjoy this gritty page-turner." Booklist contributor David Pitt added, "Bruen's sojourn among London's underclass is a cutting-edge British thriller."

In The McDead, Chief Inspector James Roberts's brother is found beaten to death. Even though he hasn't seen or talked to his brother in ten years, Roberts vows to get revenge. The killer is Tommy Logan, and soon Inspector Roberts and Detective Tom Brand are on his trail. At the same time other detectives are trying to capture a rapist who preys on black women. Booklist contributor Wes Lukowsky claimed, "Fans of British procedurals and noir novels will savor every speck of grit in this unrelenting crime novel."

In The Guards Jack Taylor is kicked out of the Guards, Ireland's police force. Now he spends most of his time at a Galway bar getting drunk and making a meager living as a private investigator. Ann Henderson's daughter Sarah is one of a few girls found dead in Galway. The Guards claim Sarah's death, and the death of the other girls, was suicide. Ann strongly feels that her daughter would not commit suicide and that she was murdered. She hires Jack to find out who murdered her daughter and why. Jack takes the job, and along the way he falls in love with Ann. With the help of a friend or two Jack is able to solve the case. Bookview Ireland contributor Pauline Ferrie commented, "Though not without humor The Guards is essentially a dark tale of perversion, evil and violence." Booklist contributor Keir Graff noted that "Bruen has a sly, dark humor that is appealing."

In London Boulevard Mitchell is freed from jail, where he was serving time for a crime he committed while in a drunken stupor. Determined to make a change in his life, Mitchell finds an honest job as a handyman and also starts dating a nice woman. Something happens, however, that throws Mitchell back into his shady past, and he cannot escape it. Booklist contributor Emily Melton observed, "This one packs one hell of a powerful punch."



Booklist, March 15, 1998, David Pitt, review of TheHackman Blues, p. 1204; April 1, 2000, Thomas Gaughan, review of Taming the Alien, p. 1438; May 1, 2001, Wes Lukowsky, review of The McDead, p. 1624; December 15, 2002, Keir Graff, review of The Guards, p. 736.

Kirkus Reviews, May 1, 1997, review of Rilke onBlack, p. 680; February 1, 1998, March 15, 2000, review of Taming the Alien, p. 337; review of The Hackman Blues, p. 154; March 1, 2001, review of The McDead, p. 293; October 15, 2002, review of The Guards, p. 1505.

Library Journal, June 1, 1998, Bob Lunn, review of The Hackman Blues, p. 167.

Publishers Weekly, February 9, 1998, review of TheHackman Blues, p. 77; May 24, 1999, review of A White Arrest, p. 71; March 19, 2001, review of The McDead, p. 80; November 25, 2002, review of The Guards, p. 46.


Booklist, (January 21, 2003), Emily Melton, review of London Boulevard.

Bookview Ireland, (January 21, 2003), Pauline Ferrie, reviews of The Killing of the Tinkers and The Guards.

Charlotte Austin Review, (January 21, 2003), Lisa Eagleson-Roever, review of Taming the Alien.

Justin, Charles, & Company Web site, (January 21, 2003), "Author Bios: Ken Bruen."

Shots Magazine, (January 21, 2003), Liz Hatherall, review of London Boulevard; Calum Macleod, review of The Guards and The Killing of the Tinkers.