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Elegy for April (Thorndike Crime Scene) Hardcover – Large Print, August 25, 2010

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Product Details

  • Series: Thorndike Crime Scene
  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Thorndike Press; Lrg edition (August 25, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1410428796
  • ISBN-13: 978-1410428790
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.5 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (85 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #9,216,225 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Timothy Dalton, former James Bond and longtime reader of Black's thrillers, channels his Royal Shakespeare Company roots to give life to pathologist Garret Quirk. Black (a pseudonym of Booker Prize–winner John Banville) specializes in psychologically complex 1950s Dublin noir. In this latest installment set in a gray, sleeting winter, Quirk--fresh out of rehab and at the behest of his daughter, Phoebe--delves into the disappearance of a young doctor, April Latimer. The two young women were members of a clique that also includes an arrogant, diminutive reporter, a theatrical actress, and a Nigerian prince. Dalton uses only subtle shifts in tone to delineate the characters, focusing more on their temperaments than gender or ethnicity. He does the same for the members of April's influential family, effectively underlining their arrogance and disdain for the unruly Quirk. As the haunted pathologist shambles through his unauthorized investigation, questioning events in his own life and falling back on his alcoholic ways, the author is more successful in creating a mood of melancholy rather than suspense. But thanks to his exquisite style and Dalton's precise locutions, that more than suffices. A Holt hardcover (Reviews, Feb. 22).
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

From Bookmarks Magazine

If Elegy for April isn't the author's best book to date, it certainly boasts the elements for which he is known: a brooding, dark main character; a literary elegance; and, most of all, an evocation of a gloomy Dublin in which "class and religious divisions and [the city's] urgent, albeit repressed, sexual atmospheres helps his characters spring from the page" (Los Angeles Times). The only major point of contention was the plot, which a couple of critics felt was too contrived and slow. ("Mystery plotting is hardly [Banville's] primary concern," noted the New York Times.) But if readers won't lie awake turning the pages, they will cherish Banville's style. "When English prose looks like it's dying, the critic Cyril Connolly once said, an Irishman comes along with something to revive it and demolish the clichés" (Los Angeles Times). --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

More About the Author

Benjamin Black, the pen name of acclaimed novelist John Banville, is the author of Christine Falls and The Silver Swan. Christine Falls was nominated for both the Edgar Award and Macavity Award for Best Novel; both Christine Falls and Silver Swan were national bestsellers. Banville lives in Dublin.

Customer Reviews

Alas, they do not: and as a result this book really seemed to plod along.
Jay Dickson
This is a mystery series with very complex characters and family relationships, concentrating more on character development than on action.
M. Tanenbaum
Black's novels possess a strong sense of character, and that character aspect develops with each novel.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

38 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Stephanie De Pue VINE VOICE on March 25, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
"Elegy for April" is a new mystery novel by Benjamin Black: a none too mysterious pen name for award-winning Irish author John Banville. Under this pseudonym, he has penned Christine Falls: A Novel and The Silver Swan: A Novel. "Christine" was nominated for both the Edgar and the Macavity awards for Best Novel, and was a New York Times Best Seller.

"Elegy," like "Christine," (I've not read "Silver Swan"), is set in 1950's Dublin, the author's home town, presumably the better to continue beating it up for its stultifying social life, deeply conservative patriarchal mores, and oligarchy by the Catholic Church and select prominent families. It centers again on Quirke, the hard-drinking pathologist, adopted himself into a prominent family, who gets involved in helping his only recently acknowledged daughter Phoebe search for a friend of hers who has just mysteriously disappeared. That would be April Lavery, also of a locally prominent family, a junior doctor at the same hospital in which Quirke, and his stepbrother/brother-in-law Malachy work. April is her family's black sheep; for example, she's currently been seeing Patrick, a handsome, charismatic Nigerian student of surgery.

Fortunately, in "Elegy," Black tends to restrict his ever so Irish `literary' writing to the description of Dublin's winter, which comes out sounding so bone-chilling I was reminded of the old joke that you wouldn't want to move to/live in Ireland unless they put a roof on it. The writing overall is quite good, dialog, narrative, descriptive, and the plot is reasonably complex.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Bookreporter on June 4, 2010
Format: Hardcover
It's no secret that Benjamin Black is the mystery-writing alter ego of John Banville, which is a way of distinguishing Banville's mainstream work from his genre fiction. He brings the same beauty of craftsmanship and appreciation of language to both branches of his career, though he might deny it. The quiet sense of humor that intermittently informs his work makes one wonder if he is just putting his readers on when he indirectly disparages his mystery novels. In any event, ELEGY FOR APRIL, the fourth of his Black novels and the third featuring the enigmatic Quirke, does not suffer from lack of attention or anything else for that matter. It is wonderful in every conceivable way.

The Quirke novels are set in the Dublin, Ireland of the 1950s. The brilliantly named Quirke, a pathologist whose erratic behavior belies a keen intelligence, is at the beginning of ELEGY FOR APRIL, newly released from an alcoholic rehabilitation facility. His reaction to sobriety is telling and two-fold: he almost immediately buys an expensive automobile --- one of only three in existence --- despite the fact that he has no insurance or driver's license, and he begins testing the waters of his tolerance for alcoholic beverages (wine, it seems, does not count). Phoebe Griffin, his quietly but deeply troubled daughter, wanders into this slowly building maelstrom, seeking his assistance. It seems that one of Phoebe's friends has vanished, and Phoebe wants Quirke to find her.

April Latimer, a new doctor at a local hospital, is what was referred to in the mid-20th century as a libertine, and her disappearance is not inconsistent with her behavior, which is regarded as wild and unpredictable.
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26 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Jay Dickson VINE VOICE on April 17, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The fourth of John Banville's noir mystery novels written under the pseudonym Benjamin Black, ELEGY FOR APRIL proves that any hope that Banville would get the real hang of the genre has by this point pretty much evaporated. Although Banville is an excellent prose stylist no matter what kind of fiction he writes, this novel, the third of his mysteries set in 1950s Dubin starring pathologist Garret Quirke (whom the other Benjamin Black novel, THE LEMUR, does not feature as its protagonist), just doesn't seem to come very naturally to him: he seems to be repeating a lot of the cliches of hardboiled mystery fiction yet while producing none of the frissons usually associated with reading them.

Quirke's adult daughter Phoebe is here involved with the disappearance of a close friend, a scion of one of the wealthy and unlikable families that often populate the Benjamin Black novels: here it's the Latimers, a clan of well-to-do Dublin physicians, who (as per usual) are snobbish and cruel and harboring secrets. When the secrets are unraveled by novel's end, they don't really much seem worth it: Banville does little to generate much suspense beforehand, and almost none of the characters are very interesting to begin with. Despite his name, Quirke is yet again less quirky than you might hope: he still seems pretty flat, despite his attempt at alcoholism recovery and at buying a fancy new car, and his sweet daughter Phoebe doesn't seem very three-dimensional either. Banville seems convinced atmosphere and fine prose alone can substitute for narrative suspense or for intriguing characters (usually the staples of the genre). Alas, they do not: and as a result this book really seemed to plod along.
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