Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Ken Bruen's Ammunition

When the BBC wanted to do a show about ruthless, brutal cops, they went back in time 30 years or so for Life Mars (currently airing on BBC America). Ken Bruen achieves the same result in a single character, Brant, in today's British police force. The Brant series is my favorite among Bruen's books--though the Jack Taylor series is more serious and dark in tone, the Brant stories are funny, violent, and quick. Brant, however, seems to be stuck in a melancholy mode in the latest book, Ammunition--as if in mourning for his favorite author, Ed McBain (whose books the Brant series resemble not in the slightest, except for the ensemble cast). Brant hardly breaks a sweat, mostly influencing others (particularly Detective Falls, still suffering from the consequences of her appearance in previous books). The detectives now seem to fully detest each other, and the plot is overpacked (numerous strands of events effect each of the detectives in different ways), but loose. None of the Brant novels is tightly plotted, but Ammunition is almost like a placeholder between the previous couple of books (Calibre and Vixen) and whatever is coming next for the survivors of Ammunition. Still, Bruen's text moves along briskly as usual, and with considerble dark humor. Brant and his cohorts still get my vote as Bruen's most substantial (and most reliably amusing) contribution.

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