“Burke shows again that he’s not just a comic genius, but also a fine dramatic writer and storyteller.” – Booklist. “Prose both scabrous and poetic.” – Publishers Weekly. “Proust meets Chandler over a pint of Guinness.” – Spectator. “Among the most memorable books of the year, of any genre.” – Sunday Times. “A hardboiled delight.” – Guardian. “Imagine Donald Westlake and Richard Stark collaborating on a screwball noir.” – Kirkus Reviews. “A cross between Raymond Chandler and Flann O’Brien.” – John Banville.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Nobody Move, This Is A Review: THE SILVER SWAN by Benjamin Black

In THE SILVER SWAN, Benjamin Black, aka John Banville, manages to put right every flaw that marred his crime fiction debut, CHRISTINE FALLS. Although the latter made compulsive reading, its pace and ‘baddies’ unfortunately stumbled into what seemed like a rushed ending. But Black has got the hang of this crime malarkey and the result is a superbly written, paced and characterised novel. The narrative follows three linear strands, told from the points of view of Quirke, the pathologist from CHRISTINE FALLS who’s now abstaining from alcohol and typically gets personally involved with this case; his niece/daughter Phoebe, who also gets involved in the action; and the eponymous Laura Swan, whose body is washed up on the rocks of Dalkey Island off Dublin. Did she kill herself or was she murdered? There are no prizes for guessing which, as THE SILVER SWAN is low on the ‘whodunit’ element – the villains reveal themselves early on – and high on telling a dark, sad story, gradually building its pace and wringing it to a dramatic denouement. The depiction of the setting itself is remarkably evocative and the shabby glamour of 1950’s Dublin presides over the story like a grande dame, as it did in CHRISTINE FALLS. – Claire Coughlan

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