Calibre (Brant Series #6) / Edition 1

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Somewhere in the teeming heart of London is a man on a lethal mission. His cause: a long-overdue lesson on the importance of manners. When a man gives a public tongue-lashing to a misbehaving child, or a parking lot attendant is rude to a series of customers, the "Manners Killer" makes sure that the next thing either sees is the beginning of his own grisly end.
When he starts mailing letters to the Southeast London police squad, he'll soon find out just how bad a man's manners can get. The Southeast is dominated by the perpetual sneer of one Inspector Brant, and while he might or might not agree with the killer's cause and can even forgive his tactics to some degree, Brant is just ornery enough to employ his trademark brand of amoral, borderline-criminal policing to the hunt for the Manners Killer. For if there's one thing that drives the incomparable inspector, it's the unshakeable conviction that if anyone is going to be getting away with murder on his patch, it'll be Brant himself, thank you very much.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
This novel featuring London police sergeant Tom Brant (the antihero of 2004's Blitz and 2005's Vixen) finds the unscrupulous detective up against a serial killer who is trying to teach Londoners a gruesome lesson in politeness and civility by viciously murdering rude and inconsiderate people, thank you very much.

\ \ As the so-called Manners Killer begins his reign of terror in southeast London, the brutish Brant -- a huge fan of classic crime fiction like Ed McBain's 87th Precinct novels -- tries his hand at writing. But the novel (working title: Calibre) is temporarily put on hold when Brant vows to track down the etiquette-obsessed killer by any means necessary. With the help of a misfit and oftentimes dysfunctional group of squad members (and one homely prostitute), Brant believes that he has correctly identified the murderer. But with no hard evidence, the corrupt cop goes way outside the parameters of the law to take down his target… \

\ Brant's passion for classic crime fiction -- with frequent references to works by Charles Willeford, Jim Thompson, Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, et al. -- and the abundance of priceless hard-boiled one-liners throughout ("Would I kill a kid? No way, José. Not unless he was in a boy band.") make Bruen's Inspector Brant novel a down-and-dirty neo-noir gem. On a scale of 1 to 10, this is an 11. Paul Goat Allen
From the Publisher

"If you haven't discovered Bruen yet, what are you waiting for?"---Rocky Mountain News

"Suffice it to say that fans of Roddy Doyle, James Sallis, Samuel Beckett, Irvine Welsh, Frederick Exley, Patrick McCabe, George Pelecanos, Ian Rankin, and Chuck Palahniuk will all find something to like, love, or obsess over."---Booklist (starred review)

"A Celtic Dashiell Hammett."---Philadelphia Inquirer

"Bruen is a brilliant, lyrical, deeply moving writer who can make you laugh and cry in the same paragraph. If you like Ian Rankin, Dennis Lehane, George Pelecanos, and the like, Bruen is definitely a writer to reckon with."---Denver Post

Patrick Anderson
The entire novel is insane but barrels of fun. I can't think of a contemporary American crime novelist who's delved so deeply into the absurd as Bruen has -- Charlie Huston, who's not yet well-known, comes close.
— The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
In Bruen's superb new pulp-inspired novel featuring Inspector Brant (after 2005's Vixen), the Southeast London Police Squad is plagued by a serial murderer who's determined to give his victims a lesson in manners. Taking a cue from Jim Thompson's The Killer Inside Me, the "Manners Killer" believes that anyone who behaves rudely in public (e.g., verbally abuses a store clerk, slaps a child) is fair game. He soon finds that he's no match for Brant, Bruen's amoral, sociopathic brute of a detective ("He was heavily built with a black Irish face that wasn't so much lived in as squatted upon"). While his methods may be questionable, Brant gets results, and we find ourselves secretly cheering him on. Meanwhile, Brant is writing his first crime novel, Calibre, and aspires to become the English Joseph Wambaugh. Of course, he doesn't let the fact that he can't write deter him; Brant just nicks the stories from his cop buddy Porter Nash. Bruen's furious hard-boiled prose, chopped down to its trademark essence, never fails to astonish. (Aug.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.\
Kirkus Reviews
That Iago in bespoke tailoring, Detective Sergeant Tom Brant of the SE London Met, returns to chase a serial killer straight out of Emily Post. His colleagues universally agree that "Brant was a pig," a man absolutely incapable of behavior not directly beneficial to DS Tom Brant. Typically, now, he sidles into the splashy case of London's lethal monitor of manners, convinced it will prove an easy, self-aggrandizing bust. Letters have begun arriving at police headquarters announcing an anonymous citizen's crusade against incivility. If the "manners killer" observes a mother unduly chastising her child, or a shopkeeper treating his customers boorishly, deadly mishaps loom: a stumble from a train platform, a tumble from the window of a high-rise apartment building. Aided by a big-time lead from his personal snitch, Brant happily plots to corner his prey. Meanwhile, his less accomplished Met sidekicks pursue other miscreants and their own elusive demons. In the process, Chief Inspector Roberts gets beaten up, WPC Falls falls for still another in a dismal list of nightmare mates, while PC MacDonald, once a Met golden boy, turns an appalling shade of yellow. Only Brant, cruel as Caligula, amoral as a wharf rat and totally undeserving, emerges unscathed to collect the glittering prizes. Sadly, this time Bruen (The Dramatist, Mar. 2006, etc.) crosses the thin line between noir and sour.\
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312341442
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 7/25/2006
  • Series: Brant Series, #6
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 192
  • Sales rank: 1,510,237
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.44 (d)

Meet the Author

Ken Bruen has been a finalist for the Edgar, Anthony, and Barry Awards, and he has won the Shamus Award and the Macavity Award for books in the Jack Taylor series. He lives in Galway, Ireland.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

SHIT FROM SHINOLA. You have to hand it to the goddamn Yanks, they have great verbals, man. I love the way they cuss.

I killed my first last Tuesday, I can't believe it was so easy. Remorse? Not a fuckin' trace. Only sorry I didn't do it sooner.

I'm forty-four years old, and I guess I'm what you'd call a late starter. Or as them Yanks have it, a late bloomer. Thirty years I could have been mowing down the fucks and what was I doing?


A working stiff.

I think it was Bob Geldof who said work was the biggest con of all. I listen to The Rats with 'I Don't Like Mondays' and I've got my soundtrack down. They nailed it. The silicon chip inside my head just switched to overload.

Been a long time coming.

My old man, Anthony Crew, worked in an asbestos factory all his life. The last ten years he spent coughing up blood and gook till his eyes bulged. His employers, did they cover the hospital bills? They did fuck-all.

The National Health Service did the best they could but he was fucked and gone; he was dead and didn't know it, wouldn't lie down. The Mick in him, those Paddies, tough sons of bitches. Every Sunday I went round his gaff, a council flat on Railton Road, and listened to him cough. James Joyce is buried in Switzerland near a zoo, and his wife, Nora Barnacle, said:

'He liked to listen to the lions roar.' Brixton is as close to a zoo as it gets. My dad, his face contorted to grotesque degrees of agony, and I wanted to kill some fucker.

Now I have:


My heroes. I've read crime fiction for over twenty years, can't get enough, black as it's painted. The classic hard-boiled, though, these guys are the biz.

Noir and out.

Shit-kickers par excellence. My bookcase is an homage to pulp:

James M. Cain

Here's a thing. I can't read Chandler's novels any more, but his letters, phew-oh, now you're cooking. They're on my bedside table, resting on my old man's Bible. His book passed down through generations of navvies to land here in Clapham. Could be worse, could be Kilburn.

Might be yet.

Used to be if you were in a hotel and wanted a hooker, open the Gideon Bible back page, bingo. Not any more. I blame the Internet, all that cybersex and chat rooms, they've taken the zing out of dirt.

I'm not going to get caught. I'm due for another kill on Friday, a woman this time, keep the balance. The reason I won't get caught is not just cos I'm smart but I have an edge.

I watch CSI.


So I'm au fait . . . With all the DNA fibres, signatures, trophies, crap. Two things in my corner, I'm random and I'm careful.

Hard to top.

They won't.

I've read the true crime books, from Ann Rule through Joe McGinnis to Jack Olsen. Man I know my shit. Am I a psychopath? A sociopath? A paranoid schizophrenic? A narcissistic disorder? A blip on the human radar?

Who the fuck cares. What I am is good and angry, like Peter Finch in Network. You think you can label me, tame me?

Dream on, sucker.

I'm the pale rider of Clapham.

But hey, let's get it down. I'm not into weird shit. None of that cannibalism or jerking off on bodies. Jeez, I hate that stuff. Truth to tell, I can't even read about it. And child molesters? Don't get me started.

Kids? Would I kill a kid? No way, José. Not unless he was in a boy band.

This is my reality TV. Killing for prime time.

Here's another thing, hope you're taking notes cos, like, I'll be asking questions. Ever see that profiler shine they pedal? Me now, they'd typically pin as:

White (true)
Late twenties, early thirties (wrong)
Loner (mm . . . mmm)
Isolated (nope)
Impotent (hey!)
Narcissistic (well okay, I'll give 'em that)
Low-paying job (nope)
No partner (wrong again)
Quiet (I'm a party animal).

You want to know how they catch serials?

Luck, dumb friggin' luck. Bundy got stopped for a busted tail-light. I don't have a damaged vehicle, no sirree. I've got cash; and if I ever get stupid, I'll get a pick-up, a hound dog, and a shitpile of Hank Williams.


You ever hear of a killer into tunes? Apart from looney ones? I listen to music all the time.

But Time Out.

Not the mag, me. I'm beat. This writing isn't as easy as the pulpists would lead you to think. I'm learning the craft from Chandler's letters. All you ever need to know, he not only tells you how but why.

Oh and another reason the dumb fucks keep getting apprehended? Someone drops a dime. The Irish disease, like alcoholism, is ratting out. They invented Guinness but also the fink.

So don't talk. You don't talk, there's nothing to rat out. 'Loose lips sink ships.'

Gotta get some zzzz's.

And I'm not lazy, whatever else I am. I'll tell you everything.

--Jim Thompson, The Killer Inside Me

Copyright © 2006 by Ken Bruen. All rights reserved.

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 4, 2006

    superb police procedural serial killer

    Londoners are frightened by the serial killing 'Manners Killer' who provides reinforced negative lessons in proper public behavior by murdering those individuals who displayed rude conduct. He has murdered a store clerk, a parking lot attendant and even a parent. The common threat is vulgar public behavior. --- Southeast London Police Squad Inspector Brant leads the investigation though he agrees with the culprit that boorish manners deserve harsh retaliation. Still it is his job to stop the killer, but unlike his peers, Brant does not allow morality or official procedure to interfere with the investigation. As sociopathic as his prey, Brant is coming to teach the Manners Killer that killing is antisocial behavior that is when he is not preoccupied writing (make that lifting from peer Porter Nash) a novel he calls CALIBRE, --- Shamus Award winner Ken Bruen is at the top of his game with this superb police procedural serial killer that pays pulp homage to Jim ¿The Killer Inside Me¿ Thompson and satirical reverence to cops turned author like Joseph Wambaugh. The charm of the tale lies with the way the readers can compare the thought processes of the killer and the inspector with the latter seeming more unhinged than the murderer. Noir readers will appreciate this wild cop and killer thriller while showing deference to Mr. Bruen by seeking Brant¿s backlist (see VIXEN). --- Harriet Klausner

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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