Review: Calibre by Ken Bruen

Calibre by Ken Bruen

OK, I was not expecting this at all.

I had read one of Ken Bruen’s books before this one (Bust), but it was co-authored with Jason Starr, and having never read Jason Starr prior to that one either, I had no idea which stuff came from which writer.

Calibre was loaned to me by a buddy, and being relentless in my avoidance of spoilers once I decide to read something, I didn’t even look at the back-cover sales pitch after he pressed it into my hands. I did read the quotes about Ken Bruen; suffice it to say that they were clearly written in praise of books not entitled Calibre.

Not that Calibre is a bad book. It’s quite a good book. It just isn’t the book I expected after reading quotes comparing Bruen to Chuck Palahniuk and Dashiell Hammett and Dennis Lehane. It isn’t the book I expected after looking at the dark noirish cover art.

Instead, Calibre is a mighty strange creature. It’s Ed McBain’s 87th Precinct relocated to London and filmed as an episode of a cheeky BBC comedy, with elements of Seinfeld and Jim Thompson thrown in, but more Seinfeld and BBC comedy than Jim Thompson.

So you can see how it caught me a little off guard.

Fans of the 87th Precinct (the favorite books of main character Inspector Brant) will get a kick out of this. So will fans of dry British humor (yes, I know Bruen’s Irish). I enjoyed it quite a bit myself, although I think it’s entirely possible I would have enjoyed it even more as a cheeky BBC comedy with the occasional disturbing moment thrown in.

I shall need to read more of Inspector Brant’s exploits, and I will pray that the TV deal happens.