From Publishers Weekly
Dalton uses all his pacing and vocal skills and his wonderful, deep Welsh tones to keep listeners engaged and on edge through this mystery set in 1950s Dublin and Boston. He skillfully sustains our empathy for widowed Dublin coroner Quirke, the alcoholic, angry and acerbic narrator who drags himself into solving the mystery of Christine Falls's death in childbirth and the disappearance of her newborn—a scenario that parallels Quirke's own experience. Black (pseudonym of Booker Prize–winner John Banville) is a fine writer, reminiscent of P.D. James in his care for language and his emphasis on psychologically complex characters, including Mel, Quirke's obstetrician stepbrother; Sarah, Mel's wife (and sister of Quirke's dead wife), whose love for Quirke is reciprocated; and Mel and Sarah's confused daughter, Phoebe. Black weaves his characters through a neat and original plot that descends into the dark depths of Quirke's family history and rises to the highest ranks of the Catholic church. Detective fiction readers will love Black's writing and Dalton's reading, and look forward to more from both.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
may be Benjamin Black's debut crime novel, but it's not his first book: Black is the nom de plume
of John Banville, the Booker Prize?winning author of The Sea
(****1/2 Jan/Feb 2006). As expected, Banville's lyrical writing stands out (and is more accessible than in The Sea
), but the expressive style doesn't eclipse the dark, suspenseful plot. Set during the all-powerful reign of the Catholic Church, the novel touches on themes of sexual repression, grief, and lost opportunities. Readers expecting a fast-paced crime novel may initially be surprised by Banville's slow, deliberate rendering of the plot and the complex charactersbut they will certainly look forward to the next novel in this projected series. Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.