Grove Press
Grove Press
Grove Press


by Ken Bruen

Some people help the less fortunate; others kill them, welcome to Headstone, Jack Taylor’s darkest nightmare.

  • Imprint Grove Paperback
  • Page Count 288
  • Publication Date September 11, 2012
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-5513-9
  • Dimensions 5.5" x 8.25"
  • US List Price $14.00

About The Book

Acclaimed Irish crime writer Ken Bruen has won numerous awards for his hard-charging, dark thrillers, which have been translated into ten languages. In Headstone, an elderly priest is nearly beaten to death and a special-needs boy is brutally attacked. Evil has many guises and Jack Taylor has encountered most of them, and has the scars to prove it. But nothing before has ever truly terrified him until he confronts an evil coterie named Headstone, who have committed a series of random, insane, violent crimes in Galway, Ireland, which has left even the national police shaken. And Jack is especially vulnerable now because he has finally found love and happiness.

Most would see a headstone as a marker of the dead, but this organization seems like it will act as a death knell to every aspect of Jack’s life. Thinking that happiness is some kind of talisman, he will find that it is a dark blessing of impending ferocity.

Jack’s usual allies, Ridge and Stewart, are also in the line of terror. One act of appalling violence alerts them to the sleeping horror enveloping them. But this realization is too late to save what they hold dear. The evil they encounter is disguised as the very mask of young innocence.

Jack, slowly accepting the sheer power of Headstone, comes to realize that in order to fight back he must relinquish the remaining shreds of what has made him human.

Headstone barrels along its deadly path right to the center of his life and the heart of Galway. In a moment of awful clarity, Jack knows that not only might he be powerless to stop it but that he may not have the utter grit needed to even face it. A terrific read from a writer called “a Celtic Dashiell Hammett,” Headstone is an excellent addition to the Jack Taylor series.


“Among the new imprint’s [The Mysterious Press] first books is this latest in Irish crime writer Bruen’s Jack Taylor series, which debuted with The Guards, a Shamus winner and Edgar, Macavity, and Barry finalist. Here, Jack is up against a completely amoral bunch called Headstone that’s terrorizing Galway; as the promotion says, ‘Some people help the less fortunate; others kill them.’ A brief, hard-bitten extract turned my blood to ice. Definitely buy for your mystery readers.” —Rita Mae Brown, libraryjournal.com (prepub alert)

“Hard hitting . . . a remarkable series.” —Publishers Weekly

“Bruen’s voice is unmistakable: finely chiseled paragraphs that more closely resemble verse than prose. . . . Bleaker than David Goodis, colder than Derek Raymond, and funnier and more violent than Richard Stark, Ken Bruen is among the most original and innovative noir voices of the last two decades.” —Los Angeles Review of Books

Headstone is an excellent addition to the Jack Taylor series.” —Philadelphia Inquirer

“Ken Bruen is brilliant. While Headstone is the stuff of nightmares, it is also the stuff of redemption, even at great cost. You will feel wrung out after reading this one, but all the gladder for it.” —Bookreporter

Headstone is one of the year’s best reading pleasures.” —David J. Montgomery, Crime Fiction Dossier

“Bruen is threatening to become a mass cult figure in the U.S. as well as a critical favorite.” —Allen Barra, The Atlantic

“A nonstop rampage of intrigue, mayhem, lunacy and dark-dark-dark humor.” —Shelf Awareness

“A welcome entry. B+.” —Avid Mystery Reader


He made the drastic mistake of trying to get up; surely the young people still had respect?


The next kick broke his nose.

He fell back.

The girl stood over him, sneered, “Trying to see up my skirt, yah pervert?”

And shredded the photo into his face, paused, added, “Nearly forgot this.”

Spat in his face.

He heard, “Who’s for a pint then?”

As they moved away, he allowed himself a tiny amount of hope till one hesitated, came back and, with slow and deadly aim, kicked him in the side of his head, laughed.

“Forgive me Father, for YOU have sinned.”

A light rain began to fall, ruining what remained of his mother’s torn photo. She’d always wanted him to be a priest. As his eyes rolled back in his head, he muttered, “Top of the world, Ma.”