|Genre||Crime fiction, thrillers|
|Literary movement||Modern crime fiction, Noir|
Born in Galway, he was educated at Gormanston College, County Meath and later at Trinity College Dublin, where he earned a PhD in metaphysics. He spent twenty-five years as an English teacher in Africa, Japan, S.E. Asia and South America. His travels have been hazardous at times, including a stint in a Brazilian jail.
Bruen's works include the well-received White Trilogy and The Guards. In 2006, Hard Case Crime released Bust, a collaboration between Bruen and New York crime author Jason Starr. Bruen's short story "Words Are Cheap" (2006) appears in the first issue of Murdaland. He has also edited an anthology of stories set in Dublin, Dublin Noir. Jack Taylor's informant named China, is a nod of the head by Ken Bruen to author Alan Hunter's original informant character named China, in the George Gently series of novels; first published in 1955. Bruen is also the recipient of the first David Loeb Goodis Award (2008) for his dedication to his art. Other works of note include The Killing of the Tinkers, The Magdalen Martyrs, The Dramatist and Priest, all part of his Jack Taylor series, which began with The Guards."
Set in Galway, the acclaimed series relates the adventures and misadventures of a disgraced former police officer working as a haphazard private investigator whose life has been marred by alcoholism and drug abuse. It chronicles the social change in Ireland in Bruen's own lifetime, paying particular attention to the decline of the Catholic Church as a social and political power. Themes also explored include Ireland's economic prosperity from the mid-1990s onwards, although it is often portrayed as a force which has left Ireland as a materialistic and spiritually drained society which still harbours deep social inequality. This is the side of the Celtic Tiger best portrayed in Bruen's Ireland-based novels. Immigration is also a theme to be found in these works.
Bruen lives in Galway, Ireland. He is married and has a daughter.
Bruen is the recipient of many awards: The Shamus Award in 2007 (The Dramatist) and 2004 (The Guards), both for Best P.I. Hardcover; The Macavity Award in 2005 (The Killing of the Tinkers) and 2010 (Tower, cowritten by Reed Farrel Coleman), both for Best Mystery Novel; The Barry Award in 2007 (Priest) for Best British Crime Novel; the Grand Prix de Literature Policiere in 2007 (Priest) for Best International Crime Novel. He was also a finalist for the Edgar Allan Poe Award in 2004 (The Guards) and 2008 (Priest), both for Best Novel.
- Shades of Grace (1993)
- Martyrs (1994)
- Rilke on Black (1996)
- The Hackman Blues (1997)
- Her Last Call to Louis MacNeice (1998)
- London Boulevard (2001)
- Dispatching Baudelaire (2004)
- American Skin (2006)
- Once Were Cops (2008)
- Killer Year (2008)
- Merrick (2014)
- The Guards (2001) – 2004 Shamus Award for Best Novel; Finalist 2004 Edgar Award for Best Mystery Novel; Finalist 2004 Macavity Award for Best Novel
- The Killing of the Tinkers (2002) – 2005 Macavity Award for Best Novel; Finalist 2005 Anthony Award for Best Novel
- The Magdalen Martyrs (2003)
- The Dramatist (2004) – 2007 Shamus Award for Best Novel
- Priest (2006) – 2007 Barry Award for Best British Novel; Finalist 2008 Edgar Award for Best Mystery Novel
- Cross (2007)
- Sanctuary (2008)
- The Devil (2010)
- Headstone (2011)
- Purgatory (Aug 2013)
- Green Hell (July 2015)
- The Emerald Lie (September 2016)
- The Ghosts of Galway (November 2017)
- In the Galway Silence (November 2018)
Detective Sergeant Tom Brant and Chief Inspector James Roberts
- A White Arrest (1998)
- Taming the Alien (1999)
- The McDead (2000)
- Blitz (2002), adapted for the 2011 British crime thriller film Blitz starring Jason Statham
- Vixen (2003)
- Calibre (2006)
- Ammunition (2007)
Max Fisher and Angela Petrakos
- Bust (2006) – Finalist 2007 Barry Award for Best Paperback
- Slide (2007) – Finalist 2008 Anthony Award for Best Paperback Original
- The Max (2008)
Jeannerod, Dominique. "Representations of Crime and Punishment in French and Irish Crime Fiction." Masson, Antoine, O'Connor, Kevin (eds.) Representations of Justice, Bern, Peter Lang, (2007) 23–37
Kincaid, Andrew. "Down These Mean Streets": The City and Critique in Contemporary Irish Noir Éire-Ireland – Volume 45:1&2, Earrach/Samhradh / Spring/Summer 2010, 39–55
Murphy, Paula. "'Murderous Mayhem': Ken Bruen and the New Ireland." CLUES: A Journal of Detection 24.2 (Winter 2006): 3–16
Murphy, Paula. "Ken Bruen's American Skin and Postmodern Media Culture". Americana: The Journal of American Popular Culture 7.1 (Spring 2008)
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- "Barry Awards". Deadly Pleasures. Archived from the original on 23 April 2012. Retrieved 12 February 2017.
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- "Edgar Award 2008 – Winners and Nominees". AwardsandWinners.com. Retrieved 12 February 2017.
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- "Ken Bruen". Internet Movie Database.