Created by Irish writer Ken Bruen, the private investigator Jack Taylor is a disgraced former police officer, an alcoholic, and a drug abuser.
Jack Taylor is a brilliant detective and could probably be one of the best in Ireland if his addiction problem was not as big. He tried to stop, he even left Galway, but nothing really sticks because he brings death and pain to everyone he loves.
How to read the Jack Taylor Series in Order?
Every entry in the Jack Taylor book series works as a standalone story, but the lives of the different characters evolve from one novel to the other.
- The Guards – Still stinging from his unceremonious ouster from the Garda Siochana, Jack Taylor is stuck in Galway with nothing to look forward to. Until a dazzling woman walks into the bar with a strange request and a rumor about Jack’s talent for finding things. When he surprises himself by getting hired, Jack has little idea of what he’s getting into.
- The Killing Of The Tinkers – A big gypsy walks into a bar one day during a moment of Jack’s clarity and changes all that with a simple request. Jack knows the look in this man’s eyes; he’s seen it in the mirror. Recognizing a kindred soul, Jack agrees to help him, knowing but not admitting that getting involved is going to lead to more bad than good.
- The Magdalen Martyrs – Jack Taylor is walking the delicate edge of a sobriety he doesn’t trust when his phone rings. He’s in debt to a Galway tough named Bill Cassell, what the locals call a “hard man.” Bill did Jack a big favor a while back; the trouble is, he never lets a favor go unreturned. Jack is amazed when Cassell simply asks him to track down a woman.
- The Dramatist – Seems impossible, but Jack Taylor is sober. The main reason he’s been able to keep clean: his dealer’s in jail. When that dealer calls him to Dublin and asks a favor, Jack wants to tell him to take a flying leap. But he doesn’t, can’t, because the dealer’s sister is dead, and the guards have called it “death by misadventure.”
- Priest – Jack Taylor, devastated by the recent trauma of personal loss, has always believed himself to be beyond salvation. But a new job offers a fresh start, and an unexpected partnership provides hope that his one desperate vision–of family–might yet be fulfilled.
- Cross – Jack Taylor brings death and pain to everyone he loves. His only hope of redemption – his surrogate son, Cody – is lying in a hospital in a coma. At least he still has Ridge, his old friend from the Guards, though theirs is an unorthodox relationship. When she tells him that a boy has been crucified in Galway city, he agrees to help her search for the killer.
- Sanctuary – When a letter containing a list of victims arrives in the post, PI Jack Taylor is sickened, but tells himself the list has nothing to do with him. A guard and then a judge die in mysterious circumstances. But it is not until a child is added to the list that Taylor determines to find the identity of the killer, and put a stop to the killings at any cost.
- The Devil – America―the land of opportunity, but not for PI Jack Taylor, who’s just been refused entry. Disappointed and bitter, he thinks that an encounter with an overly friendly stranger in an airport bar is the least of his problems. Except that this stranger seems to know much more than he should about Jack. Jack thinks no more of their meeting and resumes his old life in Galway.
- Headstone – An elderly priest is nearly beaten to death. A special-needs boy is brutally attacked. Evil has many guises, and private investigator Jack Taylor has encountered most of them. But nothing before has ever truly terrified him until he confronts a group calling itself Headstone, responsible for a series of random violent crimes in Galway, Ireland.
- Purgatory – After a skateboarder long suspected of dealing drugs to children is shot dead in mid-air during a public performance, Jack Taylor receives a cryptic message with a picture of the skateboarder, a clipping about a rapist gone free through procedural error, and a chilling invitation: “Your turn.” The note is signed simply “C 33.”
- Green Hell – Jack Taylor, has hit rock bottom: one of his best friends is dead and the other has stopped speaking to him; and he has given up on sobriety. But he has taken up a vigilante case against a respected professor of literature at the University of Galway who has developed a savage habit his friends in high places are only too happy to ignore.
- The Emerald Lie – Ex-cop Jack Taylor is approached by a grieving father with a pocketful of cash on offer if Jack will help exact revenge on those responsible for his daughter’s brutal rape and murder. Jack agrees to get a read on the likely perpetrators.
- The Ghosts of Galway – Jack Taylor is recovering from a failed suicide attempt. In need of money, he has been hired as a night-shift security guard. But his Ukrainian boss has Jack in mind for some unexpected off-the-books work.
- In the Galway Silence – Jack Taylor has at long last landed at contentment. Of course, he still knocks back too much Jameson and dabbles in uppers, but he has a new woman in his life, a freshly bought apartment, and little sign of trouble on the horizon. Once again, trouble comes to him, this time in the form of a wealthy Frenchman who wants Jack to investigate the double murder of his twin sons.
- Galway Girl – Jack Taylor has never quite been able to get his life together, but now he has truly hit rock bottom. Still reeling from a violent family tragedy, Taylor is busy drowning his grief in Jameson and uppers, as usual, when a high-profile officer in the local Garda is murdered. After another Guard is found dead, and then another, Taylor’s old colleagues from the force implore him to take on the case.
- A Galway Epiphany – Jack Taylor has finally escaped the despair of his violent life in Galway in favor of a quiet retirement in the country with his friend Keefer, a former Rolling Stones roadie, and a falcon named Maeve. But on a day trip back into the city to sort out his affairs, Jack is hit by a truck in front of Galway’s Famine Memorial, left in a coma but mysteriously without a scratch on him.
- Galway Confidential – Jack Taylor wakes up from a coma to discover that much of the world has changed since he last walked the streets of Galway. The pandemic had hit while he was under, devastating the lives of many in his beloved city and beyond. Now, as Jack tries to recover from the attack that put him in the hospital and absorb the incredible changes in the world around him, a woman approaches him with a distressing case: two local nuns have been bludgeoned by a mysterious man wielding a hammer, and more are sure to follow. As the police fail to act while the violence against the Sisters escalates, Jack seems like their only hope.
If you like our article about the Jack Taylor reading order, don’t forget to bookmark it! You may be interested in George Pelecanos’ books.