Sunday, September 8, 2013

The White Trilogy: Ken Bruen

My plan was to read The White Arrest by Ken Bruen. But I was reading that book in The White Trilogy, and when I got to the end, I could not stop. I kept on reading until I had finished all three books in the trilogy in three days. Only about 150 pages each, that sounds easy, but for me it was an accomplishment. Having read only one Ken Bruen book previously (The Guards), I was already a fan. Now I am not sure which series I like better.

In the Introduction to The White Trilogy, Ken Bruen tells us...
                         We will not now
Or ever
Help you in any form fashion or method
In research
Regarding the Metropolitan Police.

So said Scotland Yard when I asked them for assistance regarding:

Pay scales
Ranks
Jargon
For a planned series on London coppers.
So Ken Bruen proceeds to write
A White Arrest.

Inventing that term to mean a stunning arrest that would whitewash all previous screw-ups.
I wanted a bad-ass bigoted blunt violent sergeant as the focus, with a surrounding cast of dysfunctional cops in an imagined South East London station, close to where I had lived for ten years.

A White Arrest introduces Chief Inspector Roberts and Detective Sergeant Brant. They are working on two cases, one involving murders of dope dealers, the other a killer aiming at members of the England cricket team. In Taming the Alien, Brant visits Ireland and New York. The McDead is a story of revenge, with Roberts seeking to get back at the man who killed his brother, who seems to be protected by the higher ranks in the police department.

I have said on this blog that I have a preference for series where the policeman is not damaged or flawed. Nice family men just trying to do a good job every day. Detective Sergeant Tom Brant does not fit that description at all, but he is now on my list of favorite fictional policemen. The best description I read was amoral. Brant does what he thinks he has to do to deal with criminals and stay alive. And what he does may not be strictly legal.

Yet I love these books. Having already read The Guards, I knew what to expect, roughly. I knew it would not be an easy read, a comfort read.

Ken Bruen's writing is poetic. He draws me into the story and I don't care that the protagonists are hard and violent and willing to bend the law.

I like so many characters in this series.
Brant
Roberts
WPC Falls

The story of Falls in this trilogy is heart breaking but also very affirming. She is a strong female character with a lot of facets to her character

Roberts is sixty-two and feeling his age. He has a wife and a teenage daughter, but police work (among other things) has strained their relationships. He has dreams of a real family life.

I especially liked that Brant is a big McBain fan and has all of his books, the 87th Precinct books, the Matthew Hope books, and even all the books written as Evan Hunter. Brant sees the cops in the 87th Precinct series as the ideal, yet he is very far from that ideal (keeping in mind that I have only read the first three in the McBain series).

I could go on and on with praise for these books.

I had been looking for the first books in this series for a while, but Keishon at Yet Another Crime Fiction Blog was the one who alerted me to the reprints of the Brant series at MysteriousPress.com and the eBooks from Open Road Integrated Media. I opted to get the trade paperback version of the trilogy, and it was well worth the price. I have purchased the next book in the series.

Please see Keishon's reviews of A White Arrest, Taming the Alien, and The McDead.

Submitted for the Alphabet in Crime Fiction for the letter W. This community meme is hosted by Mysteries In Paradise.

26 comments:

  1. These sound excellent. My library has the first in the series and according to Fantastic Fiction, some of the later ones. Thanks, Internet and Tracy, I'm off to reserve some.

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    1. Anne, I hope you enjoy the book.

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    2. The library book turned out to contain the whole trilogy in one volume, and I'm drawing breath before plunging into the second helping of this wonderfully wicked world and its doings! A White Arrest really rattled along at great speed but seemed to relax in he last couple of chapters; Taming the Alien appears to continue in this slightly less frenzied style. I must say some of the cultural references have dated terribly... almost forgotten pop stars... but it doesn't detract from the enjoyment.

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    3. Anne, I am glad to hear you are enjoying the books. I am looking forward to reading the 4th book, when I can fit it in.

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  2. Wow - you make this irresistible TracyK - consider it sold (to me at least) especially as it's available on paper!

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    1. Yes, Sergio, I was very happy they had reprinted in the trade paper edition also. I knew I would want to revisit these.

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  3. So glad you enjoyed the trilogy Tracy! I am spreading out the rest. There are only seven books in the series! Hope Ken Bruen is inspired to write another one if more people read/review his Brant books. I regret not mentioning WPC Falls as she is a terrific character.

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    1. Keishon, I probably will have to wait until January or later for #4 in the series, but don't know how long I will spread them out. I still have to read more Jack Taylor also.

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    2. How many do you have left in the Jack Taylor series? I read them all almost back to back and didn't get burned out by it. It was during the summer when I had plenty of time to read.

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    3. I have only read the first one, so that leaves nine I think. I have the next two books in the series.

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  4. Very interesting! I'm off to see if my library has his books.

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    1. Peggy, I hope you find a copy to try.

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    2. Tracy they have a TV series from Ireland based on his books at Netflix! Jack Taylor is the name of it if you have Netflix. I'm on the second episode and just noticed its from this author! My library does have his books.

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    3. Peggy, I knew they were on DVD but did not realize I could get them through Netflix. I think I want to read a couple more in that series before I watch the episodes. I like the actor who plays Jack Taylor. Thanks for letting me know about that.

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  5. Tracy - Thank you for such a thorough review. And Wow! You know a series is good if you start at the beginning of Book One, and don't end until the end of Book Three. That certainly says something about the quality of the books. I do like Bruen's work, so I'm glad you enjoyed this so much.

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    1. Margot, I love books where I don't want to put them down. I am so glad the books lived up to my expectations.

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  6. I have never read a trilogy before.

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    1. Scott, this was probably the shortest trilogy I have read, and the Millenium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson was the longest (at about 600 pages per book). This one was much better.

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  7. Okay, okay, your review and and Keishon's have sent me over to Librarything to add these to my wishlist! I'm in the mood for something quick and action-filled, and this sounds great.

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    1. Definitely quick and action-filled, Rebecca. And so good.

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  8. Tracy, you and Keishon make a strong case for Ken Bruen's work, so I am going to look up some of his novels. I admire anyone who reads books in series, for I don't. I need to jump genres.

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    1. Prashant, I do tend to gravitate towards series. I like continuing with a character. But lately I hop from series to series and sometimes don't read many in one series.

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  9. I have read one book by him - I had to look it up, it's called The Dramatist - and I was amazed by it, it was very distinctive, but I have never got hold of another. Maybe I should.

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    1. Ah, that is a Jack Taylor book, I have not gotten that far in the series (it is the 4th). Bruen does have a very distinct way of writing and I have loved every book I have read by him (only four so far).

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  10. Tracy, glad you loved this. I've got to say it's been some years since I read them. I do love the cultural references in his books. I ought to get back to him soon, but you know how it is?

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    1. Col, this is the kind of book I keep because I know I would enjoy rereading it later, but don't know if I will ever find the time. So, yes, I know how it is.

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