She Wails Through the Fair by Ken Bruen from Requiems for the Departed – review

requiem for the departedreviewed by Jedidiah Ayres

I chose the banshee because my father, who was the most sceptical and cynical of men, truly believed he’d seen the banshee before his mum’s death and the story always stayed in my mind.

And he was a man who never took a drink his whole life!

Ken Bruen

What can I say about Ken Bruen that you don’t already know?

He writes crime fiction like a sculptor, chipping away everything that doesn’t belong, until what’s left is just the essence.



Hell, the pages of his damn books even look sculpted. They barely register horizontally across the page,





Do, I mind?

Not at all.

Essentially, he writes noir prose-poems.

The books are epics.

The short stories are uh, less epic.

And quick?

Bruen doesn’t waste your time with anything but the core of the story or the character. Ken leaves a wealth of detail unsaid and unexplained. If it’s not in there, it’s not important.

Some people are frustrated by his




Fuck em.

She Wails Through the Fair won’t change your mind on Bruen love him or not. It’ll simply solidify your already held opinion. Mine, if you haven’t guessed it, is unequivocally pro. But for anybody about to make this their first exposure to him, I’ll do a bit more apologetics.

The story is familiar territory –

hard case out of prison,

a crazy broad,

treachery lurking in every embrace and

a touch of criminal superstition…

or is it?

You’ll find out.

You don’t read Bruen for the plots –

some are great,

some, (in an outline), are barely distinguishable from craptastic crime books/television/films that otherwise don’t belong in the same conversation with him.

You read Bruen for the



Sheer amphetamine rush his storyTELLING skill.

Because you can’t not.

You may not remember what happened in his stories a day, a week, a year after reading them, but you’ll remember the experience of the read. And if you’re like me, you’ll be eager to do it again.

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Brian Lindenmuth

Brian is the non-fiction editor of Spinetingler magazine and one of the fiction editors of Snubnose Press. In addition to Spinetingler his work has appeared in Crimespree magazine and at BSC Review, Galleycat and the Mulholland Books website. He also heads the Spinetingler Award committee.

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4 comments for “She Wails Through the Fair by Ken Bruen from Requiems for the Departed – review

  1. October 1, 2010 at 12:26 pm

    Ha, excellent review!

  2. October 1, 2010 at 3:37 pm

    Bliss, you forgot to use the word bliss. I think it’s a favorite of Bruen’s.

  3. PokerBen
    October 2, 2010 at 3:42 am

    Great review, it sure had that KB flavor.

  4. Nigel Bird
    October 2, 2010 at 1:00 pm

    love the way the review fits the story. magnifique

Comments are closed.