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In Ken Bruen’s Priest, Galway-based PI Jack Taylor, a recovering alcoholic fresh off a stint in a mental hospital, investigates a shocking murder with the help of a young wannabe detective.

Grisliest Death A clergyman’s severed head is found in the confessional.

Lowdown Taylor’s winning, even lovable blend of bleak philosophy and noirish humor (”I could smell his breath, the whiskey, the stout and…cheese?”) is more gripping than the novel’s central mystery. B+