I should mention right off the bat that the publisher was kind enough to send me a digital copy of ‘The Ghosts of Galway’ through Netgalley for review.
I honestly had no expectations when I started reading the book. In fact, I wasn’t even aware that it is the latest in a series of books centred around the character of Jack Taylor, so much so, I’m not entirely clear on his history. Only that he used to be a Guard, and things have been on the downward spiral for a while.
He’s a security guard when the story begins, but the name Jack Taylor apparently still commands respect. His employer sets him on the task of tracking down a rare anti-Biblical book, but things go sideways pretty soon.
The story itself is a rather simple tale of revenge with an odd cult thrown into the mix.
Most of the characters are barely developed, though I suspect it is by design, as we read the story from the point of view of the protagonist. Due to that, we only come to know as much about any character as Jack Taylor cared to share.
The narrative has a thick noir-style to it, with our hardboiled cynic of a protagonist barely even making an effort to pick himself up. He stumbles from folly to folly before feeling enough anger to do something about his life.
I must spend a little more time on the cynical worldview Jack Taylor has. I could easily relate to it, though I suspect it says more about me than it does the character himself.
It is frustrating to see Taylor not give a damn when his world is collapsing about him. In fact, at one point, he suffers a deeply personal tragedy, but so lost is he that he cannot bring himself to do anything about it.
The antagonist of the story, Emily (who fancies emeralds) is a rather complex, unhinged and scary young girl. She has a penchant for dramatic, showy and deliberate violence.
One of Emily’s many shocking actions is a straw that broke the camel’s back, and it directly sets up the novel’s conclusion.
And what a brilliant, dark and richly satisfying ending it is, too.
The author pulls no punches. His staccato style of prose makes for lines that are the equivalent of an emotional gut punch. His penchant for breaking sentences up over several lines makes it easier for him to write lines that carry great shock value.
I may be only a recent initiate to the seedy world that Jack Taylor inhabits, but there is little doubt in my mind that this is a world I’m eager to discover from the start.
A solid tale, darkly told.