It's the 2023 ToB presented by Field Notes!

Welcome to the 2023 Tournament of Books presented by Field Notes. And look, a brand new website! It’s time to Rooster!

Genre Genre Genre

Mean Streets

Billy Wilder's Sunset Blvd. set in Ken Bruen's 21st-century London.

Book Cover The recent proliferation of Swedish crime writers should not overshadow the cadre of Irish lads who spin these tales as easily as they draw breaths. I’m talking about John Connelly, Benjamin Black (aka John Banville), and of course, the prolific Ken Bruen.

And since London Boulevard (Minotaur) is being adapted to the formerly silver screen by William Monahan (screenwriter of The Departed), with Colin Farrel and Keira Knightley, Bruen’s anonymity outside the genre ghetto of crime fiction has probably come to an end.

Bruen’s books, both his Jack Taylor series and his standalones, are fast-paced and violent, with a light blend of cynicism and irreverence which makes for a fun read. Additionally, London Boulevard is an homage to Billy Wilder’s screen classic, Sunset Blvd.

Mitchell, out of prison after a three-year bit for assault, is offered a job as a loan shark enforcer—a job he is well-suited for, but then he gets a straight job as a handyman with a rich but fading stage actress, Lillian Palmer, who compensates him with cash, cars, and sex—rewards which Bruen does not leave to the reader’s imagination.

As is the case in a Bruen novel, the author is not light-handed with the body count. In this story, I stopped counting after 11 including a climactic blood bath—which might be thought excessive except this is, after all, crime fiction—and it makes sense in Bruen’s London populated with thugs, loan sharks, druggies, and bottom-feeders of every stripe.

Some people call this fun. And, I’m one of them.
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