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.
Ken Bruen's Calibre is original and astonishing hard-boiled noir.
About the Author
Ken Bruen has been a finalist for the Edgar and Anthony Awards, and has won a Macavity Award, a Barry Award, and two Shamus Awards for the Jack Taylor series. He is also the author of the Inspector Brant series. Several of Bruen's novels have been adapted for the screen: The first six Jack Taylor novels were adapted into a television series starring Iain Glen; Blitz was adapted into a movie starring Jason Statham; and London Boulevard was adapted into a film starring Colin Farrell and Keira Knightley. Bruen lives in Galway, Ireland.
Read an Excerpt
By Bruen, Ken
St. Martin's Minotaur
Copyright © 2006
All right reserved.
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.
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:
Late twenties, early thirties (wrong)
Loner (mm . . . mmm)
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.
Excerpted from Calibre
by Bruen, Ken
Copyright © 2006 by Bruen, Ken.
Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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
When your favourite authors start dying even the most reasonable reader should be forgiven for becoming a nervous, obsessed, idiot hoarder of books that can, after all, be re-read should the unthinkable eventuate. Despite an overwhelming desire to continue this hoarding behaviour, eventually the yearning for books like CALIBRE becomes too strong and, as a result, I'm no longer hoarding CALIBRE. (DISCLAIMER: I have no information whatsoever with regard to Mr Bruen's state of health... it's just that he's a favourite author and there's always the chance that any one of my favourite authors could beat me out the door....)I'm not 100% sure what called me to this book over the last few days, but I found myself inexplicably incapable of looking past it when scanning the shelves for a little something to fill in a hot weekend. Which plan failed dismally as I read it in a single setting. Not because the book is 192 pages long, because it was so extremely, gloriously readable.Of course we're talking Bruen here, so it's rapid-fire dialogue, recited by unconventional characters, with a healthy disdain for the rules or much in the way of propriety. There's also the most marvellous dark, dry humour - personally I thought Sergeant Brant's method for becoming the British equivalent of author Ed McBain had a weird sort of merit, although I doubt his colleague, who was being set up for a systematic fleecing of his ability, would agree....CALIBRE, as with all of Bruen's novels, is not for everyone. We're not talking straight-forward police procedurals here, nor are we necessarily talking much in the way of complicated plots. What we are talking is a sense of noir, of the dark side, of black humour and somehow, disconcertingly so in some places, realism. Favourite author or not favourite author I'm going to have to snap out of hoard mode and get back into reading (and re-reading) all of Bruen's books.