With the publication of the first Jack Taylor mystery, The Guards, in 2001, Ken Bruen found broad popular and critical acclaim within the mystery and detective genre. The popularity of this novel in Europe and later in the United States prompted the reissue of several of Bruen’s earlier works; the first three Sergeant Brant novels—A White Arrest (1998), Taming the Alien (1999), and The McDead (2000)—were collected and reissued in the United States as The White Trilogy (2003).
Bruen’s novels are significant for their treatment of two popular detective subgenres. As their protagonist’s penchant for Ed McBain’s novels of the 87th Precinct suggests, the Brant novels are contemporary police procedurals of a particularly dark and gritty nature. The novelty lies in the juxtaposition of the setting (London) and the narrative style, which is heavily influenced by American noir. The Jack Taylor novels are private investigator novels that are also unusual in terms of their setting (Galway), because as the narrator maintains, there are no private investigators in Ireland.
Bruen’s stature as a writer of mystery and detective fiction is reflected in the number of awards and recognitions his works have received. The Guards was an Edgar Award finalist and Shamus Award winner, and several of his other novels have appeared on annual lists of best novels.