The Guards by Ken Bruen Bruen is a pure writer. (In the interest of full disclosure, I nominated this book for an Edgar Award, and Ken and I subsequently became friends.) His prose edges on poetry. This book takes you into a world – Galway – through the eyes of disgraced cop Jack Taylor. Taylor is my kind of character – on the edge, a little lost, working the corners of the plate. The Guards (The title refers to the Irish police force – the Garda) is sad, funny, tough, violent and ultimately redemptive. It starts with the classic noir moment of a beautiful woman walking into a bar and asking a favor (Say ‘Marlowe’ somebody) and then moves from there. It’s a terrific story, but it’s the writing that gets you. No one does dialogue better, but that prose – oh my god, that prose. It sings.