Call it "Irish Noir," "Post-Modern Noir, " or whatever other adjective or descriptive phrase you can come up with; it matters not one bit. There's noir ... and then there's Ken Bruen. Blitz is the sequel to Bruen's The White Trilogy, a series of novels that introduced us to the cops in the South East London squad. A more dysfunctional collection of police officers would be hard to imagine. This time around, their loyalties, their training and what's left of their fragile sanity will be put to the test as they attempt to collar a sociopath who is out there killing cops with a hammer. (Leading Bruen, of course, to insert an irreverent reference or two to the Beatles' immortal "Maxwell's Silver Hammer." Would you expect any less?). The killer, nicknamed "the Blitz" by London's rabid tabloid press, is a total `nutter. As the novel progresses, the reader is left with the sneaking suspicion that this whack-job is probably going to get away with his crimes and maybe even make a few pounds selling his story to the highest bidder. The fact that you are tempted in that direction, however, is dead giveaway that the author has something else entirely up his sleeve.
What Blitz lacks - relatively speaking, that is, compared to some of Bruen's other novels - in terms of sheer primal energy and visceral impact, it more than makes up for by means of a subtle and not-so-subtle sense of humor that is as grim and as dark as it gets. It's not that Bruen has become domesticated. It's just that his technique has become more sophisticated over time. Indeed, the author's implicit indictment of society is all the more searing because it is couched largely in such outlandishly humorous terms in this novel. You'll laugh your arse off in places while reading this book. Five minutes later you'll realize that what tickled your fancy was definitely no laughing matter a' tall. And five will getcha ten that's what the author bloody well intended in the first place! So strap yourself in and grab a motion-sickness bag. You're in for a wild ride through the sights and sounds of a London that will never, ever make the pages of any guidebook.
Read the entire text of this review in MYSTERY NEWS (October/November 2004)