Americathe land of opportunity, a place where economic prosperity beckons: but not for PI Jack Taylor, who's just been refused entry. Disappointed and bitter, he thinks that an encounter with an overly friendly stranger in an airport bar is the least of his problems. Except that this stranger seems to know much more than he should about Jack. Jack thinks no more of their meeting and resumes his old life in Galway.
But when he's called to investigate a student murderconnected to an elusive Mr. Khe remembers the man from the airport. Is the stranger really who he says he is? With the help of the Jameson, Jack struggles to make sense of it all. After several more murders and too many coincidental encounters, Jack believes he may have met his nemesis. But why has he been chosen? And could he really have taken on the devil himself?
Suspenseful, haunting, and totally unique, The Devil is Bruen at his very best.
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 Ken Bruen
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2010 Ken Bruen
All rights reserved.
'May you be in heaven a full half-hour before the Divil knows you're dead.'
Old Irish blessing
The Light Bringer.
He was the Angel of light.
He believed that man had seriously fucked up.
So, like a good cop, he collected his evidence, brought it to His Lord.
The Lord, being God, like all governments, was highly sceptical and laughed at his bearer of light.
Truly pissed off, like all good cops, Lucifer began to falsify the evidence.
An early fan of The Wire, if you will.
Not so much Serpico as Satan.
And yeah, got fucked over.
So he did what you do when you get caught, you rally the guys.
Set up his own shit.
Not quite Mugabe, but he was getting there. His coup failed.
No wonder the Irish have such belief in him.
What we do best.
He was, as they put it, thrown into hell.
And like all former zealots, he swore, 'The fuck I'm going down alone.'
And you kinda have to admire the cojones of the guy. Not only was he taking his motley crew of failed cohorts to hell and beyond, he'd go after God's supposedly mega love.
The Human Race.
He'd enlist: Idi, Adolph, Maggie Thatcher, And for a pure Trivial Pursuit (even arch demons need recreation) somewhere on the list of crazed cronies he added the name of Taylor, Jack.
Just for a spot of diversion.
The guy went around with guilt, fear, anger, spite, arrogance.
And best of all, he was a half-assed recovering Catholic.
Not only would it give Luc some R and R, he'd get to drink some Jameson, sink a few pints of Guinness and, primarily, watch the stupid bollix try to figure it out.
Where was the downside?
Most diabolical of all, Taylor would look for motivation. That made the Devil laugh out loud. He loved the game most when humans sought explanations and motivation.
Reminded him of wondrous times, like that idiot Aleister Crowley.
And if he knew Taylor, and he sure knew a sitting target, sooner or later, Taylor would do two really stupid acts.
Apart, of course, from trying to understand it.
Taylor would do two incredibly dumb acts.
One: he'd go to a priest.
And by all that is unholy, the priest would feel the wrath of meddling with the Anti-Christ.
And then the tinkers.
Luc had a special hatred for them as the weird clan could see things.
He didn't like that.
Not to be seen.
If there was to be a show time, he'd call the time and place.
Mostly, he worried (if such an entity could worry) about them because, unlike Taylor, or priests, or the other minions, they weren't afraid.
He thrived on fear.
His raison d'être, perhaps.
And if Taylor did follow through, with the tinkers, he'd lay such a wrath on them that they'd huddle in the fear he had tried so long to instil in them.CHAPTER 2
'Evil is only a concept to those who've never experienced it. To those who've met it, the term "concept" dropped from their vocabulary.'
Everybody with an beal bocht (the poor mouth).
The economy hadn't so much melted as crashed, burned and died.
Dell had just announced they were pulling out of the country and, of course, a shite load of jobs had gone.
But every single day it was the same dirge, another company was moving operations elsewhere.
The banks were now beginning to understand how the clergy had felt for the past few years, that the next knock on the door was the lynching party.
The government were screaming that in two years we'd be maybe, just maybe, a little bit on the road to recovery.
The beast was no longer slouching towards Bethlehem, he was in full possession and even the wondrous bright flicker of Barack's victory had faded.
I was in Conlon's Fish Restaurant, best fish in the country.
And how they achieved that with us entering the second year of the water being contaminated was a wonder.
The council was proclaiming that it wasn't really the water but the lead pipes, and oddly, 'twas little comfort.
You either boiled all water or bought it bottled.
I was waiting on me cod with mushy peas and drinking a coffee that tasted like coffee!
I'd almost given up on reading the papers, but Ray Conlon had passed me the Irish Times. A photo of a woman killed in a freak accident leaped out at me. A brief paragraph noted how she'd been hit by an unknown car at the car park in Shannon airport.
My Aer Lingus woman.
I lost me appetite but wouldn't hurt Ray's feelings by bolting.
I wanted a large Jameson.
Fast, wet and lethal.
With the Xanax, I was keeping a sort of lid on me drinking.
A woman was standing over me, asked, 'Jack Taylor?'
Jesus, if I had a Euro for the amount of times this had happened.
And yes, always, always ended in disaster.
My getaway was meant to put all the past horrors of my time as a half-arsed PI behind me.
She was that indeterminate age between forty and fifty, nice face, though looking heavily burdened. Blonde hair pulled tight in a ferocious bun and mild blue eyes that had seen too much of the world.
She fidgeted nervously with her wedding ring, the Claddagh band, and that more than anything else had me say,
She looked like she was going to fall down, so I offered her the seat opposite.
She took it and I signalled to Ray, who was over in jig time, and I asked,
'May I get you something?'
'Some water would be nice, thank you very much.'
Ray gave me the look and I shrugged.
The fuck did I know?
He brought a bottle of sparkling Galway water, neatly took the top off the bottle and poured half a glass.
She said, 'I hate to bother you, Mr Taylor.'
She nodded and said,
'I'm Teresa Jordan, a Galwegian too.'
A rare and rarer breed.
Spent all my bedraggled life doing that, though for what, I don't know.
She took a delicate sip of the water, then said,
'Noel, my eldest lad, is at NUI – one year left of Science – and he's disappeared. I told the Guards and they said not to worry, students were always up to shenanigans and he'd show up in his own sweet time.'
For perhaps the first time in my whole screwed-up relationship with the Guards, I agreed with them.
Easy as I could, I said,
'They are probably right. Students, they get up to mischief.'
I couldn't believe I'd used the word mischief.
Evelyn Waugh would love me.
Her eyes fired, and believe me, I've seen it often enough, Irish women do wrath like no other women on the planet.
'He's been missing two weeks, and missed my birthday. Noel would never miss my birthday.'
She did scream that last word.
I took out my notebook, it was for the horses and the latest runners and riders at Lingfield and the Curragh. Adopted my biz tone, like I knew what the fuck I was doing.
'Description, friends, what clothes he might have been wearing, his address, and if possible, a photo.'
A real pro.
I dutifully took down the data and then she reached in her handbag, took out, like a piece of valued jewellery, a snapshot.
He looked like ...
A thousand other young kids.
Dark hair, long, lean face with lots of acne, nothing else to say. He was any face you'd see on the street, just an ordinary young student.
'I don't know what you charge, Mr Taylor, but I have this.'
Handed me a slim envelope. I had the decency or shame not to look inside, said,
'I'll get right on it.'
Took her telephone number and was so relieved when she stood up and said,
'Thank you so much, Mr Taylor.'
I gave her the hollow bullshite about not to worry, I'd get right on it, and finally she was gone.
A new case.
I was working. When the whole country was losing their jobs, I'd just been hired.
Was I delighted?
Was I fuck.
Ray brought my dinner and I'm sure it was up to their usual excellence, but my mind ... Jesus, that photo, that woman, Shannon airport and my, dare I say, curt response.
I shrugged it off, shouted,
'Ray, got any more tartar sauce?'
This seems too crazy to be true, but within two days of my arrival back in Galway, I'd found a place to live.
A guy I knew was emigrating, like so many, and wanted to rent his apartment.
In Nun's Island!
My previous case had involved nuns and was a bitter and twisted series of events.
I took the apartment.
It overlooked the Salmon Weir Bridge, not that I'd see any of those gorgeous creatures jumping, the poisoned water had killed them off.
It had wood floors, two bedrooms, a tiny kitchen and a large sitting room, crammed with books.
Always and ever my desperate salvation.
A coffee-maker, washing machine and an internet connection.
What more could you want?
Apart from love, care, purpose, family, belonging.
I was so long from any of the above, you think I'd be used to it.
Few things as lonely as shopping for one, and eating alone in your own home, aw fuck, that is the pits.
You keep the TV on, the radio in the mornings, just to blank out that awful silence.
As usual, I had me favourite music:
Gretchen Peters, Johnny Duhan, Tom Russell.
I had two friends.
Ridge, Ni Iomaire, a gay Guard, who had recently, in a desperate effort for promotion and to belong, married an Anglo-Irish landowner, who'd lost his wife and was merely seeking companionship and a mother for his teenage daughter.
How was that working out for her?
How do you think?
Every case I'd worked, she'd been involved and we had a love/hate relationship of the Irish kind. That is, we tore strips off each other, verbally, every chance we got, and yet had saved each other's arses more times than we'd believed possible.
And then there was Stewart.
You want to talk enigmatic?
He'd been a highly successful dope dealer, looked and dressed like an accountant, till his sister was murdered and he engaged me.
By pure fluke, I solved the case. Stewart went to prison on dope charges, back when it seemed like the government gave a shite, and emerged a Zen, deadly, totally unreadable ally.
He and Ridge had paid for my ticket to America.
I'd phoned them and Ridge had said, 'You stupid bollix.'
'You can travel without moving.'
I preferred Ridge's response.CHAPTER 3
'The Divil loves those who deny his existence.'
Old Irish proverb
I'd barely got started on the case of the student, had asked round and mostly heard he'd been a nose-to-the-grindstone kind of guy.
Sure, he partied at weekends, but seemed to take the idea of getting his degree very seriously.
One girl, a very pretty wee thing, told me,
'Lately, he got involved in ouija boards and all that occult crap, began reading books about Aleister Crowley and shit.'
I was about to say, thank you very much when she added,
'Then he met Lord of the frigging Dance.'
I nearly said, 'Michael Flatley?' Bit down and waited.
She said, 'Mr K himself, turned up recently and has like ...'
I'd have sworn she was Irish, but she had that half-arsed American idiom gig going, and sure, used the word like.
Like a lot.
I asked, 'And he is? Mr K, I mean, who is he?'
She gave a world-weary sigh that proved she was indeed Irish, then said,
'He preaches some weird bullshite about empowering and the energy of the the One.'
'Any idea of where I might find the charismatic Mr K?'
She gave a small laugh, no relation to mirth or joy, said,
'That's part of his schtik, he just shows up, begins his tired rap and wallop, a whole bunch of eejits follow.'
I liked her a lot. Women of spirit always appealed to me. I had to know, asked,
'You were never drawn in?' She gave me the rolling-eye bit, said,
'I work in a fast-food joint to keep me afloat and I hear enough horseshite without having to go looking for it.'
She was Irish, no doubt.
'What's he look like?'
She gave it her full concentration, then said,
'Tall, great smile and a shaved head. Hard to place where he's from. He sounds like a German, or maybe French?'
I put out my hand, thanked her profusely and volunteered that she was one bright young lady.
She gave a lovely smile, said,
'My name is Emma, I enjoyed talking with you.'
I spent the best part of a week with students and frequenting student hangouts.
Was even offered some Ecstasy.
The song remained the same.
Noel had been liked, had friends, and then out of the blue – or black – he became a total devotee of this Mr K.
I found no sign of the enigmatic Mr K.
I'd always just missed him.
Or he was due at the Quays and I'd show up.
They found Noel down near the rowing club, hanging by his feet from the flagpole, an inverted cross not so much carved as literally gouged into the skin.
When I called his mother, I left out the above details but had to say it looked like somebody had harmed him.
Fuck, talk about understatement.
Her wails of grief, the sheer torment of her agony made me just want to hang up.
Like I could.
I said the trite shite you do and offered to refund her money.
Then, 'Mr Taylor, you use that money to find the scum who robbed me of my precious golden boy.'
I swore I would.
I even sounded like I meant it.
In the local pubs, the murder was on the menu and I heard faint whisperings of the head of a dog being enmeshed in the poor boy's entrails.
I didn't inquire.
Fuck, it was sick enough.
While the country went nuts, I went to the cemetery.
I sure had a long line of people to pay my respects to.
Cody, my surrogate son, and the others, it grieves me to name them. So many of them in their graves because of my stupidity.
I left my dad till last.
He wasn't buried with my mother.
She'd torn him asunder in life, so at least in eternity, he truly would have some peace.
I did lay a red rose on my mother's grave and tried to think of something nice to say to her.
Not a blessed thing.
Then I walked along the narrow path to my father, and at first, I couldn't register what my eyes were seeing.
Faeces, rubbish, condoms, were scattered over his plot.
Too late to blame my mother.
I was in shock for about five minutes, then began to clear away the debris, and it was then I saw it above my dad's name.
An inverted cross.
You come out of the cemetery and it's but a spit to the nearest pub.
We take our burials almost as seriously as our drinking.
I took a place at the counter and realized I was actually shaking.
The barman, my age, probably used to shook-up mourners, asked quietly,
'What would you like?'
'Jameson, large, pint of Guinness.'
He withdrew discreetly.
Afraid he'd wake the dead?
Once I got on the other side of the drinks, I began to, as the young people say, chill.
My anger was at its usual simmering slot and God, I wished I still smoked.
So someone knew I'd been investigating the student's death. Not hard as I'd been all over the campus for a week.
And had sent me a message.
To frighten me off.
Made me more determined than ever to find Mr K. Whoever this bollix was, he was a key factor.
There was a blazing log fire in the bar and the temptation to curl up there, get a line of hot toddies going was powerful.
But I turned up the collar of me Garda all-weather coat and headed out.
The barman said,
'God mind how you go.'
My limp was acting up, a legacy of a beating with a hurley.
My heart was going like the hammers and I debated if taking a Xanax would be the wisest course of action.
I took two.
Back in Nun's Island, I thanked Christ that the heating was working and had settled into an armchair when the phone rang.
She made chitchat for a while.
She was even worse at that than me and that's really saying something.
'What's on your mind?'
She didn't bite my face off, so I guessed she wanted something.
Her beloved husband was having a soiree on Friday evening, nothing too formal, just sports jacket, tie, slacks!
I was just born for soirees.
She told the truth, I think. Said,
'There are a lot of well-to-do people coming and it would be nice to have an ally.'
I nearly laughed.
We'd been down many roads together, most of them dark, but she'd never used the word 'ally' before.
I could have said,
'You're gay, from a shite poor background and you marry the nearest thing to a fucking lord there is. What did you expect, bliss?'
Instead, I said,
Like I said, Two Xanax.
I had nearly dozed off when my doorbell rang. I went,
'For fuck's sake.'
Excerpted from The Devil by Ken Bruen. Copyright © 2010 Ken Bruen. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
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