In The Nick Of Time

The Magdalen Martyrs and The Dramatist by Ken Bruen
Galway, on Ireland's west coast, may seem an unlikely setting for a noir-ish crime novel. But it is Jack Taylor's territory, a private eye who works the underside of this seaside city.

"This is where Jack Taylor would have been stationed before he was unceremoniously bounced from the force," says Taylor's creator, author Ken Bruen.

Taylor is the antihero in Bruen's series of darkly comic crime novels, a boozing ex-cop, bounced from "Garda," the Irish police, after, "Numerous cautions. Warnings. Last chances. Reprieves. And still I didn't shape up. Or rather sober up," Bruen reads to CBS News correspondent Anthony Mason.

Bruen's been nominated for almost every crime writing award. "The Guards" won best novel from the Private Eye Writers of America, and Publisher's Weekly called him "one of the finest noir stylists of his generation." Not bad for a quiet Irish boy from Galway, the son of an insurance salesman – especially since Bruen's father was unsupportive of his son's career.

Bruen recalls his father saying, "'I would rather you be a homosexual than a writer.' I came from a family where there's literally - nobody reads books. They regarded books as highly suspicious."

Bruen admits he spent much of his life trying to impress his father. He proudly told him he'd earned his doctorate in metaphysics.

After telling his father his degree meant he earned the title of doctor, dad shot back, "If you think anyone in this family will ever call you doctor you can kiss my arse."

So Dr. Bruen wandered through a number of jobs. He came over to the United States for awhile. One of his jobs included a stint as security guard at the World Trade Center. "I was supposed to protect floor 107A."

Bruen then tried his hand as an actor in low-budget films. But then he stumbled on a career well suited to his restless spirit.

"I'm kind of afraid to admit this: I was one of the people who taught military English to the Kuwaitis," Bruen says.

"And two months later, the Iraqis came rolling down the pike and the Kuwaitis were not ready for them. And I got all these calls saying, 'Ken, it's your fault.'"

However, the job allowed him a way to travel. "I could go literally any place. And because I was single, I had a great sense of adventure," Bruen says.

He took jobs in Japan, Africa and southeast Asia. Then in 1978, Bruen got an offer to teach in Brazil, the South Americans and the Saudis were known to pay the best money to foreign teachers. It looked like a dream job. It turned out to be a nightmare.