This is the new Quirke Dublin mystery from John Banville writing as Benjamin Black. When newspaper magnate Richard Jewell is found dead at his country estate, clutching a shotgun in his lifeless hands, few see his demise as cause for sorrow. But before long Doctor Quirke and Inspector Hackett realise that, rather than the suspected suicide, ...
This is the new Quirke Dublin mystery from John Banville writing as Benjamin Black. When newspaper magnate Richard Jewell is found dead at his country estate, clutching a shotgun in his lifeless hands, few see his demise as cause for sorrow. But before long Doctor Quirke and Inspector Hackett realise that, rather than the suspected suicide, 'Diamond Dick' has in fact been murdered. Jewell had made many enemies over the years and suspicion soon falls on one of his biggest rivals. But as Quirke and his assistant Sinclair get to know Jewell's beautiful, enigmatic wife Francoise d'Aubigny, and his fragile sister Dannie, as well as those who work for the family, it gradually becomes clear that all is not as it seems. As Quirke's investigations return him to the notorious orphanage of St Christopher's, where he once resided, events begin to take a much darker turn. Quirke finds himself reunited with an old enemy and Sinclair receives sinister threats. But what have the shadowy benefactors of St Christopher's to do with it all? Against the backdrop of 1950's Dublin, Benjamin Black conjures another atmospheric, beguiling mystery.
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Benjamin Black is the pen name of Irish novelist John Banville. This is the fourth installment in the Quirke series. Quirke is a deeply-flawed medical pathologist in 1950's Ireland.
Quirke has been called to examine the body of publisher Richard ?Diamond Dick? Jewell at his country estate, by DCI Hackett. There, Quirke meets the family of the deceased, especially Jewell's widow, Françoise d'Aubigny. She is insular and detached, although amazingly beautiful.
Quirke is in a relationship with Isobel Galloway but is immediately captivated by the young widow. This story feels like a noir film: a stylish crime drama with expressed cynical attitudes and sexual desires.
Actually, this seems to be more of a complex character study than a traditional mystery. I believe that I could pick out the characters from a group of strangers in a room, the characters are so well-written. Black has plumbed the psychological depths of the main characters in this drama; the reader understands the troubles of these characters.
Because I?d so enjoyed THE BLACK-EYED BLOND, Benjamin Black's clever rendition of a Raymond Chandler novel, I wasn't immediately put off by the cold, distant characters. By the book's half-way point, however, I was laboring to finish this story. The characters were generally unlikeable ? few had any redeeming features.
I really did not enjoy this book; it was stylishly written but had no heart. 2 stars
1. Christine Falls (2006)
2. The Silver Swan (2007)
3. Elegy for April (2010)
4. A Death in Summer (2011)
5. Vengeance (2012)
6. Holy Orders (2013)
Publishers Weekly, 2011-05-23 Black's flat fourth crime novel set in 1950s Ireland (after Elegy for April) takes Dublin pathologist Quirke to Brook-lands, the country estate of newspaper baron Richard "Diamond Dick" Jewell, whose nearly headless body is found one summer afternoon in his office above the stables. Jewell appears to have blown his head off with the shotgun still in his hand, but Quirke suspects foul play. Jewell's beautiful widow, Francoise d'Aubigny, who flatters Quirke by remembering their previous brief meeting a year before, suggests that a feud was brewing between Jewell and another rich Dubliner, Carlton Sumner. Quirke unearths a connection between Jewell and St. Christopher's, an orphanage where he himself briefly lived. When threatening phone calls escalate into violence, Quirke must watch his back. The failure of Black (the pen name of Booker-winner John Banville) to make much of the demise of such a powerful figure and Quirke's unlikely attraction to the dead man's wife help make this Black's weakest effort yet. (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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