“Prose both scabrous and poetic.” – Publishers Weekly. “Proust meets Chandler over a pint of Guinness.” – Spectator. “A sheer pleasure.” – Tana French. “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. “The effortless cool of Elmore Leonard at his peak.” – Ray Banks. “A fine writer at the top of his game.” – Lee Child.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Nobody Move, This is a Review: ELEGY FOR APRIL by Benjamin Black

John Banville’s alter ego is back with a fourth Benjamin Black novel, the third in the Quirke series. This time, the pathologist has been in situ at an institution called St John of the Cross, drying out. When he comes home, his daughter asks him to investigate the disappearance of her best friend, April Latimer, a well-connected junior doctor at the same hospital where he works.
  April is independent-minded and is considered to have something of a ‘wild’ reputation in the conservative social atmosphere of Dublin in the 1950s, dictated by a patriarchal Catholic hierarchy which is headed by Archbishop John Charles McQuaid, who pops up fictionally as a confidante of April’s family. (Other real-life characters of the time also find their way into the story, which can, at times, feel like over-embellishment).
  Quirke humours his daughter, and quickly gets to work doing what he does best: poking around, conducting post-mortems on people’s buried secrets and asking questions in an intensely claustrophobic city where a scandal can be hushed up with one phone call from a government minister’s office to a newspaper editor. What he eventually uncovers is deeply unsettling and, combined with Black’s superb characterisation and sense of place, ELEGY FOR APRIL will insinuate itself into the dark crevices of your mind like the novel’s ubiquitous Dublin fog. - Claire Coughlan

1 comment:

Larraine said...

just finished this novel and found it both exhausting and fascinating - one thing about Black/Banville, his prose is truly elegant - it's the darkness that I find fascinating: the character's darkness as well as the darkness of the society. We're seeing it from Quirke's point of view which, admittedly, is dark. That ending came as a surprise to be sure. Contrived? Maybe. Still,I wasn't expecting that ending.