Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Ken Bruen

There's been a little controversy in the blogoverse recently over the novels of Ken Buren. Seems that Lee Goldberg had the nerve to say that he wasn't impressed by Bruen's Edgar-nominated The Guards, and that bothered some people a lot.

But let's face it: not everybody's going to like every book he reads. Hey, there may even be some poor, misguided souls who don't like my books, as hard as that is to believe. And Lee, for one, didn't like another of my favorite books, River Girl, by one of my favorite Gold Medal writers, Charles Williams, but I didn't notice anybody calling him bad names for that.

I happen to like most of what I've read by Ken Bruen a lot. I believe it was Jeff Meyerson who recommended The White Trilogy to me a year or so ago. I didn't pay much attention at first, but Jeff said something about how he knew I'd like the three books, so I thought I'd give them a try. As it turned out he was certainly right. The White Trilogy blew me away. I hadn't been as excited about a writer in a long time, and I started telling everybody about him. Back in March of this year, at the AggieCon, I'm sure people got tired of hearing me talk about him.

I'm not sure why I liked the books so much. Probably it was a combination of things. First of all, the style caught me. It's distinctive, spare, and poetic, and it works just fine for me. I can see why it might not work for everyone, though, and that's all right. I have a feeling Bruen isn't trying to please everyone.

Another thing was the tone of the books. To me they seemed like the 87th Precinct on speed. And they don't play by the usual rules. Anyone can die (or get cancer or get maimed or get hooked on drugs and/or alcohol) at any time. Crimes are solved more or less by luck, or accident, rather than anything resembling what you might see on CSI or Law and Order. Sometimes it's hard to tell the cops from the criminals. Sometimes the cops seem even crazier than the criminals. I ate it up.

So naturally I was delighted when I found out that stories begun in The White Trilogy weren't going to end with the three books that comprised it. Blitz might be subtitled Brant is Back, but the whole surviving crew is back: Falls, McDonald, Nash, Roberts. And it's as good as the first three, if not even better.

Last weekend I did a signing at Murder by the Book in Houston, and I picked up the fifth book in the series, Vixen. And believe me, vixen is a mild word for the title character, one of the best villains in the entire series. I liked this one a lot as well.

I feel pretty lucky because I have three other Ken Bruen books in my TBR mountain, with more to be added shortly. You can bet I'll be getting to them fairly soon.

1 comment:

Lee Goldberg said...

A lot of folks have told me I started with the wrong Bruen book... that I should have read the WHITE TRILOGY, among others, first.

If you liked them, I suspect I will, too. I've got the books on order...they should arrive soon.