A Ken Bruen Tribute to Murderati

By Louise Ure


Last week I received a gloriously sad, thoughtful and marrow-warming note from Ken Bruen. What else would you expect from the Irish King of the Cast Out Angels? It is a love note, of course, to all of us here at Murderati, full of memories from our past years together — an accounting of both our joy and our losses.


He’s given me permission to reprint it here.


Welcome back, my Tuesday friend. I hope the sun in Algeciras is kind to you.







Seems a time ago, Le Temps, if not Perdue, at least so mourned.
I was happy then.
Being a member of Murderati, what was not to love?
Pari minding the crew, Dusty extolling on politics in a way that stirred the grand days of TS O’Rourke, being blog buddies with Louise, Alex having me back, always, and icing on the cake, Murderati was nominated for The Anthony. Plus, Toni Causey and Brett, turning out dark gold.
Heady lovely days.
Barack was the real whisper in the wind and hope was tangible.
I wanted this post to mark the best and the brightest then, for me.

I remember Louise’s post on her late brother, one if the most compelling pieces I ever read, cross me bedraggled heart.
My friend Jerry Rodriguez, his death un-ravelled me in ways I didn’t know.
As would so many to come.
Codlamh samh  … means ‘sleep well my loved ones.’
Louise’s beloved Bruce
And oh Sweet Jesus, Elaine Flinn
Robert Parker
Joe Gores
Oh Lord, so many, I can’t name them all.
But didn’t know.
So wrote as If all were indeed possible
The whole espero-que-si scenario.

I’m sitting on the sea front at Algeciras as I write this tribute to the best and brightest. There is a ship for Algiers at 7.00 in the morning.
Tangiers, that ferry sails at 7.00. I’m seriously uncertain. After my graduation, going to try and find Paul Bowles with Irini.
The web, never take the bollix for granted, I shit thee not, on Amazon, in German, a bio of me and my marriage at 21 to a Greek Millionaire’s daughter.
I would have sworn, Mathair An Dia, ( Mother of God) that would never surface.
Me mother would have killed me.

I don’t know.
Remembering my languages but eerily, only the terms of ambiguity.
Oh yeah, snapshots of the torn mind.
One of my used-to-be favourites, a beach in Galway.
See, the two stick figures, like Zorba, clearly dancing.
She’s gone now.
My wife took that photo, in days when I think she liked me, a bit anyway.
Or Aine, late to my life, a photo, rare as we had little time,
On that promenade in Spiddal, dancing, again! Me? Like seals who didn’t know predators are attracted to motion, especially happy tide.
Emotional chum in the water, frenzy freely.

One of my favourite books, ‘A Movable Feast’, and Hem talking of his delighted love for Mary, says:
‘There was wood all around, I never touched it.’
I’m sure around me, there all kinds of driftwood, in my ignorance, I didn’t touch it either.

Telling some of these tales to David Thompson, ridiculously young and brilliant. Oh Sweet Mother of God, the most get-go publisher I ever had the grace to know.
On tour with Jason ( Starr) in Germany last Sept, we get the call, he is gone.

I was 60 on the third of Jan, finally free I hope, espero que si, of cigs but the rest? Jesus wept.
In the blessed nigh on nine years I’ve been part of The Mystery Family, it’s been bliss. I stop here, un momento and sure enough, a guy approaches, goes:
‘Amigo mio, que passé?’
He truly doesn’t want to know so I give him some dinero, he goes:
‘Hoy, el muy bueno hermano.’
Like fook.
I lost my only brother ten years ago.

In my wallet is a photo, I never, ever look at. She’s there, smiling, shite, I know that and who knows, I might have been too but I forget. Thank Christ. I do know she has an expression of such longing, yearning even, but now, I still wonder, for what?
You believe it?
I never asked.
Swear to the God whom I amuse so highly, I never did, lest she tell me and I couldn’t deliver.
I should have asked.
You think?

My Dad, always (siempre) had a look in his eyes, one that defied:
‘Take your best shot.’
Me, the photos, I look like the best shots were already over the day I thought I could live in the world.
In Delaware, Princess died.
And I go:
‘Enough already.’
Well, not really, I’m too nice, Jesus, to utter that but I feel it.

I stand up, think:
‘I really should pay tribute to those I love and respect.’
And the list is endless.

As Paul Brady sang in The Island:
‘Hey, this was never meant to be no sad song.’

I think of the wondrous blogs:
Peter and The Rap Sheet
Ali, of course
Duane (go win that Edgar buddy)
Crime Always Pays
Paul Brazil
Derek Haas
Jen’s Books Thoughts

The lady I’m with approaches, she’s French so melancholy is not that much of a mystery, she goes:
‘K, there’s a party for your award in like, half an hour.’
I give her me best smile, the one that leaks
And no humour
I know, I got to practice it a lot at all the funerals.

I start up the incline to the villa provided by the publishers and she asks, slight frown, as me quiet is not common, asks:
A gra, OK?’
Sorry, I’ve been teaching her Irish, saved me from talking about the friends I’d so wish to Christ she’d known.

I nearly smile, say:
‘No, I’ve been doing some stuff on the laptop.’
She stops, never … no matter how in the wind they are … underestimate the intuition of a lady who cares for you, she asks:
‘Tom? ( Piccirilli) Lukas? Philip?’
Then she lights up, gets it, says:
‘Jason…. Jason Starr.’

I have 2 new books near completion but I haven’t written for 2 days.
That’s it, the freaking reason I’m out of sorts.

Man U play Chelsea later and the bar will be full, giving me support for me team and all good stuff, as Lukas (Ortiz) says,
‘It’s all good amigo.’
I drink the equivalent of maybe three Buds (light). God be with the days, yada, but come morning, I’m sitting on our balcony and she, God Bless her, moves right in beside me and you have to know me God-forgive-em moods, to come that close in the morning, she hands me a café con leche, her  arm round my shoulder, casually, like we’ve doing it for twenty years:
‘Yeah… right, I know.’
I think, say:
‘Alanna, what I’m writing is, Je pense, mais no, un cri de coeur.’
Gives me that rare to rarest look, of someone who gives a tinker’s cuss as to what I really think, I know at home in Ireland, cri de coeur is simply, whining … worse, what they call, off-white whining.
She looks out at that Ocean, stretching to Africa, she  still doesn’t know if we’re travelling, asks:
Que pense, Kay?
Tempted to go Galway, channel Charlie Stella.
‘Fug-ed.about.it, Kay.’
But I uncharacteristically tell the truth, say:
‘I’m thinking … ti kema, quelle dommage … of Murderati, of the crew of damn nigh Cowboy-angels there.’
And she laughs.
The French laughing is nigh on as wonderful as the Irish telling the truth. She hugs real close and, God forgive me, the warmth makes me afraid, afraid I’ll get used to it. She misinterprets my shudder, asks:
Andiamo, diga me?’
Our slumming in about five different languages is one of her main appeals for me, plus, she never …like seriously … judges me. WTF.
I truly tell the truth, tell:
Ken Bruen.


PS from Louise: I’m on jury duty again and will check in during the day as we get breaks.

30 thoughts on “A Ken Bruen Tribute to Murderati

  1. Richard Maguire

    Louise – I'm a frequent lurker (hate that word; makes me feel the Vice Squad is on the prowl) and an infrequent commenter. I'd just like to say thank you so much for posting this.

    Ken – ma bhfuil tu ag leamh, beannachtai o Bavaria mo ait ar deoraiocht. Go raibh mile maith agat.

  2. billie

    Loved this and I want to know more about the Paul Bowles reference – I love Paul's writing and corresponded with him for several years when I was in my mid-20s and going through a very rough time. He sent me pictures from Morocco – goats in trees, silly things – that made me smile and also made me know there were other places to be than where I was.

    Ken always manages to get us thinking about things that matter, the deep places. Thanks for sharing this, Louise!!

  3. toni

    If I could but live up to that praise, my days would be shining forever.

    What a stunning, beautiful post. Thank you, Ken. Thank you, Louise, for posting it. You've made me weep, in the good way.

  4. Lukas Ortiz

    It is all good, amigo.
    I love this post.
    Please post more, pronto.
    We can't get enough of your wondrous heart.
    Wish I was in Tangiers to watch your back.
    But I know that you will always be alright, hermano.
    Con un fuerte abrazo,

  5. Allison Davis

    Fabulous, this song, really lifts my heart, I think I'm in love. Excellent post, stirs a lot of memories detached from this, but everything is intertwined somehow.

  6. Ken Bruen

    Oh Dios Mio
    De profundo Gracias.
    Thank you……………all
    More on Paul Bowles manana Allison
    Hermano mio…………Lukas
    Brett……………..you´ll post cos it´s who you are, thank god
    Mike Cane………..El Supremo
    You are del corazon of the heart
    And Je suis, tres enchantee
    A bientot


  7. Ken Bruen

    Oh Dios Mio
    De profundo Gracias.
    Thank you……………all
    More on Paul Bowles manana
    Hermano mio…………Lukas
    Brett……………..you´ll post cos it´s who you are, thank god
    Mike Cane………..El Supremo
    You are del corazon of the heart
    And Je suis, tres enchantee
    A bientot


  8. Stephen Jay Schwartz

    I so wish I could have shared the Murderati stage with you while you were here, Ken. You have such a powerful voice. Someday I hope to meet you, and share a drink, and stories.

  9. lil Gluckstern

    Wow, everyone has already said it. What an incredibly moving, and wonderful post. A true paean to the humanity that shines on these pages, and a poignant song to how you feel. I'm just a reader (faithfully, of your books), but I have tears in my eyes for what has come, and gone, and for what might be. Thank you.

  10. KDJames

    I regret I wasn't yet reading Murderati when when Ken was here. Because this post delivers a heartbreaking realization that all along you should have been mourning something or someone you didn't know, yet lost just the same. Only without sweet memories to temper the grief. The rest of you are fortunate in that.

  11. Louise Ure

    KD, and all our newer 'Rati, please help yourselves to the archives of our past bloggers, listed by name on the right side of the home page. I love re-reading Ken's earlier posts. Heart breakers. Heart givers.

  12. David Corbett

    Dear Ken & Louise:

    Sorry I'm so late to the parade. Had to get something out the door and the software gods turned to gremlins (&^%$#)*&^).

    Ken, so good to hear your voice, albeit in pixels. You are missed, in ways you may not imagine.

    Louise–so very glad to hear your voice as well, and you know why. Ditto on the missing, and more.

    Such a grand post, full of the sad mysterious joy of being here, under all the curious circumstances. How magical, how maddening, how lucky, how odd. We share our DNA with stars and salt shakers, dolphins and clowns. And we vanish like a breeze off a nameless sea. I was at Joe Gores' memorial with Eddie Muller, and we knew there were so many others who wished they could have joined us. He was one of the most generous, down-to-earth, drop-dead smart men I've ever known. And he gave me my first blurb — two pages worth!

    Anyhoo, can't meaningfully contribute beyond that, but one soulful Irishman's musings beget another's. Here's to that, from Willy Butler Whozit:

    When I play on my fiddle in Dooney,
    Folk dance like a wave of the sea;
    My cousin is priest in Kilvarnet,
    My brother in Mocharabuiee.

    I passed my brother and cousin:
    They read in their books of prayer;
    I read in the book of songs
    I bought at the Sligo fair.

    When we come to the end of time
    To Peter sitting in state,
    He will smile on the three old spirits,
    But call me first through the gate;

    For the good are always the merry,
    Save by an evil chance,
    And the merry love the fiddle,
    And the merry love to dance:

    And when the folk there spy me,
    They will all come up to me,
    With ‘Here is the fiddler of Dooney!’
    And dance like a wave of the sea.

  13. Lou Boxer

    Ken a cara,
    Your kindness and friendship are beyond compare.
    Your words bring comfort no matter how painful.
    Your strength and compassion are a lesson for I try to follow everyday.
    You are the bright shining beacon.

  14. Sandie Herron

    Ken, we haven't had the pleasure of meeting. Yet we thought the same things last September when the news spilled from Houston. You are so not alone …

    Sandie Herron

  15. Louise Ure

    Thank you all for joining us today, and celebrating all that is the fine man, Ken Bruen.

  16. T.S. O'Rourke

    I am extremely flattered, Ken, that you bring my bedraggled name into your poetry.
    I'm just reading Blitz again and loving it.

    I'm back 'at play' and should have a follow-up to my first Dublin crime novel, Ganglands, by the end of summer, Dog-willing. I blame Kindle, personally…

    Let's pray the good old days are yet to be created.

    And belated birthday greetings!

    T.S. O'Rourke

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