St. Martin's, Jan 2004, 22.95, 256 pp.
Jack Taylor left the GUARDS and Galway for London to sober up and redeem himself while starting over. Now a year later, he slinks back to Galway, but a pint keeps beckoning him as his old haunts call him until he finally surrenders to the siren of his favorite pub. He is mentally lower than he ever has been.
The tinker Sweeper wants to engage Jack's services to stop the serial killer and mutilator of his gypsy clansmen. Sweeper informs a sober Jack (talk about Gypsy luck – rare moment when Jack is not in his suds) that the Garda Siochana couldn't care less that a few Gypsies are dead. Reluctantly, Jack begins investigating as only he meanderingly can. Jack finally solves the twisted case only to capture the wrong person.
Though Jack's alcohol problems are treated too lightly (a notch above Foster Brooks), his sleuthing is fun to follow as his path is so nonlinear, readers will believe he has no prayer of solving anything but his next drink. When he is not on the case his antics can become irritating. On the other hand, Ken Bruns provides a deep social message that detox most likely will fail if the person returns to the exact environment that helped cause the addiction. THE KILLING OF THE TINKERS is a solid private investigative tale with just a few too many personal sidebars to gulp in one drink.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner