“Benjamin Black, whose fourth book is A DEATH IN SUMMER, started out as the escapist alter ego of John Banville, who won the Man Booker Prize for his 2005 novel THE SEA. But his Black persona has been such a success that he looks increasingly like the Superman to Mr. Banville’s more literary Clark Kent. His books about the dour Irish pathologist named Quirke have effortless flair, with their period-piece cinematic ambience and their sultry romance. The Black books are much more like Alan Furst’s elegant, doom-infused World War II spy books than like standard crime tales.” - Janet MaslinMind you, Ms Maslin does report that Mr Black does succumb “to the occasional fit of verbosity. At one atypically overripe moment the author manages to use “miasmic,” “ether,” “teeming,” “bacilli,” “succumb,” “writhe” and “tender torment” in the same sentence.”
I have to say that I didn’t notice that particular sentence when I read A DEATH IN SUMMER, which I enjoyed very much, not least because there’s a palpable sense of John Banville settling into the Benjamin Black persona and - whispers, now - actually enjoying it. For my take on the novel, clickety-click here …
Meanwhile, Eithne Shortall in the Sunday Times (no link) brought us the news that the Benjamin Black novels are to be made into a TV series for the BBC, to be filmed in Dublin by Tyrone Productions and Element Pictures. To wit:
Banville … set out to create a detective series for television, and when the project was shelved he converted it into a novel. Nine years later it is about to complete a roundabout journey to the screen. […] Each of the first three Black books will be turned into a 90-minute drama, and if they prove successful the fourth instalment will also be adapted.So that’s Black in the pink, and Banville in the black. Nice.