American Skin

This past weekend I read one damn good book.  American Skin by Ken Bruen is by far the best crime novel I’ve read this year.  Publishers Weekly describes the book like so…

At the start of Bruen’s dark tribute to the Irish fascination with the American dream, Stephen Blake is on the run after a bank heist, hoping to disappear in the desert near Tucson. He has the money, and his girlfriend, Siobhan, knows how to launder it. All he has to do is change his accent, his skin and pass as American. But John A. Stapleton, hit man for the IRA, wants more than his share of the swag, and the psychotic Dade, obsessively devoted to the music of Tammy Wynette, is wandering the Southwest like a slaughter wagon.

Bruen, who I’d never read before but am now addicted to, writes in a crackling-yet-sad prose style.  The words drip emotion and energy, carrying you through even the slowest portions of the narrative at a breakneck pace.

The characters populating American Skin are a vivid collection.  They run the gamut of sympathetic to terrifying, many times within the same character.  All of them are fascinating, some of them stupifying.

Look, I can be a slow reader.  I know that.  I couldn’t put American Skin down.  This novel wormed its way into my brain and changed the way I want to read.  It’s that powerful.

If Noir is your thing at all, then do yourself a favor and pick up American Skin.  You won’t be sorry.