Ken Bruen

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Ken Bruen
Born 1951
Galway, Ireland
Occupation novelist
Genre Crime fiction, thrillers
Literary movement Modern crime fiction, Noir

Ken Bruen (born 1951) is an Irish writer of hard-boiled and noir crime fiction.


Born in Galway,[1] he was educated at Gormanston College, County Meath and later at Trinity College Dublin, where he earned a Ph.D. in metaphysics. He spent twenty-five years as an English teacher in Africa, Japan, S.E. Asia and South America.[1] His travels have been hazardous at times, including a stint in a Brazilian jail.

Bruen is part of a literary circle that includes Jason Starr, Reed Farrel Coleman, and Allan Guthrie.

Bruen's works include the well-received White Trilogy and the Shamus Award-winning 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 (nominated for the 2008 Edgar Allan Poe Award in the category "Best Novel"), 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.

In 2010 the first six Jack Taylor novels were made into a TV series starring Iain Glen in the title role. His novel 'Merrick' (2014) was adapted for TV as the series 100 Code, starring Dominic Monaghan and Michael Nyqvist.

He lives in Galway, Ireland. He is married and has a daughter.



  • 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)

Jack Taylor[edit]

  • 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)

Detective Sergeant Tom Brant and Chief Inspector James Roberts[edit]

  • 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[edit]

Further reading[edit]

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


  1. ^ a b "". Retrieved 2012-02-27. 
  2. ^ "Bouchercon World Mystery Convention : Anthony Awards Nominees". 2003-10-02. Retrieved 2012-02-27. 

External links[edit]