Have Any of the Ken Bruen Adaptations Done the Author’s Work Justice?

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Ken Bruen is one of the most successful authors to come from Galway, and the 72-year-old is best known for his crime fiction and gangster books. The fast-paced style of his writing makes the novels hard to put down, and the strong Irish themes have global appeal.

It’s hardly a surprise that Bruen’s work has attracted a lot of interest from television and film producers. There have been numerous adaptations of his books already, but it could be argued that none have done justice to the originals upon which they are based.

Huge Market for Themes from Bruen’s Books

The concepts from Bruen’s books are hugely popular throughout the entertainment industry, and developers are always looking for offerings in the crime and gangster genre that they can adapt. No matter where you look, there are numerous options for fans of these themes, some of which are all-time classics.

For example, legendary offerings from Martin Scorsese such as Goodfellas and The Departed have helped to keep the crime genre front and centre in the mainstream. These titles have inspired various games over the years as well, such as Gang Wars on mobile. There are also numerous new online casino games that pay homage to iconic gangster films, including Chicago Gangsters and Cat Gangster. There’s the Goodfeathers slot as well, a bird-themed game directly inspired by Scorsese’s 1990 flick.

Bruen’s ideas have many of the key tropes you’d associate with classic crime and gangster films, but they also have relatable characters and settings. That’s why they’re ideal for television and film versions.

Jack Taylor Series Faced a Lot of Criticism

Bruen’s main body of work is the Jack Taylor series, and it’s these books that helped the Galway man achieve fame around the world. The first offering was The Guards in 2001, and this went on to win numerous accolades including the 2004 Shamus Award for Best Novel. This was followed up by numerous other lauded novels including The Killing of the Tinkers in 2002 and Priest in 2006.


There was a lot of excitement when it was announced that there would be a televised Jack Taylor series with Iain Glen in the title role. There are nine episodes of this in total, each based on a different novel from Bruen’s catalogue. The series didn’t quite live up to the hype, though, with many people criticising the casting choice of Scottish actor Glen. His Irish accent was unconvincing, and it spoiled what could have been a great show.

Two Films Met with Mixed Reception

Bruen has had two books adapted for the silver screen to date, and these have been huge releases featuring well-known actors. The first was London Boulevard in 2010, but this was met with a poor critical response and has a low rating of 38 per cent on Rotten Tomatoes.

The other movie based on Bruen’s work was Blitz. Jason Statham starred in the lead role in the 2011 title from Elliott Lester, and this one was met with slightly better reception. The Snatch actor was praised for his performance in a film that one critic referred to as a “guilty pleasure.”

Most fans of Bruen would say that the best way to enjoy his work is to read the novels, as the film and television offerings haven’t quite been up to scratch yet. Still, there are plenty of other books that could be adapted, so there’s a chance that there will be a hit based on Bruen’s work in the future.