Friday, July 27, 2007

Ken Bruen hates violence

I've seen little violence in my life. From what I have seen, and from what I can guess and extrapolate, most violence happens fast, without slow motion, wisecracks, gratuitous sound effects or excessive time for reflection. You might not learn that from Sam Peckinpah, Quentin Tarantino or Guy Ritchie, but Ken Bruen sure seems to know it.

Ammunition, the seventh of Bruen's novels about Sgt. Brant, Chief Inspector Roberts, and their manic (and sometimes depressive) southeast London police colleagues, contains a scene of violence horrifying for who commits it and for the matter-of-fact relation, in simple, declarative sentences, of its immediate aftermath. No plot spoilers here, but I believe from now on that for all the violent acts in his books, Ken Bruen hates violence.

And geez, this in a Brant and Roberts book, part of Bruen's funny series. And sure, Ammunition has laughs so far, seventy-four pages in. But it also has greater emphasis on the officers as a kind of cracked, surrogate family than I remember from the earlier books, though that aspect was always present.

Bruen even appears to have thought more carefully about plotting than he did in the first six novels. Falls, newly promoted to sergeant through Brant's intervention, receives a note from a killer freshly out of prison who, in a previous book, stalked Falls and, for one night, became her lesbian lover:

"To say that she had ammunition on Falls was putting it mildly. Falls lit a cigarette, her hands a little steadier. The only person who could really deal with this type of psycho was Brant."
But Brant has just been shot; who will help Falls? Presto, instant subplot.

© Peter Rozovsky 2007

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