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A Death in Summer: A Novel (Quirke) Audio CD – Audiobook, CD, Unabridged
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Narrator John Keating keeps a firm hold on a variety of characters and accents - from the not-so-grieving widow's French purr to the too-involved Detective Quirke's hard-edged brogue. Supporting characters are distinctly developed, and Keating's masterful style keeps the action moving forward. (AudioFile Magazine)
[Keating's] reading of A DEATH IN SUMMER is a winner. Keating is a natural to bring Dublin based Quirke to life. (Beauty by the Books)
Keating has a gift for thinking through the monologues of some of the minor characters… (Reviewing the Evidence)
Reader Keating, a television actor (Boardwalk Empire, Nurse Jackie) and member of the theatrical Irish Rep Company, compliments the protagonist's every mood. He narrates the objectively told novel with an Emerald Isle lilt that keeps us mindful of the locale but is subtle enough that is does not interfere with the serious, sometimes somber atmosphere created by the prose. (Mystery Scene)
[Benjamin Black's] 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 Maslin, The New York Times)
Black's drab Dublin streets are full of perplexing figures, archetypes, as if the characters were stalking through some Jungian map of the unconscious: weakened, dying fathers, good mothers, bad mothers, twins, 'dark doubles,' ghosts surging up from the past… His narratives are loaded with poetic devices. (The New Yorker)
Black has improved with every book, and the latest, A Death in Summer, is his best yet… [Black] knows how to create a first-rate sleuth--the ungainly, middle-aged Dublin pathologist Quirke, a man who can never seem to keep his nose out of trouble. (Malcolm Jones, The Daily Beast)
The author of the Booker Prize-winning The Sea, Banville is a literary artist, whereas Black is a craftsman who churns out page-turning crime tales… Banville's latest Benjamin Black novel is another complex character study disguised as a plot-driven work of genre fiction. (The Kansas City Star)
[A Death in Summer] is an elegant novel, well-paced with dramatic twists, disturbing surprises and richly drawn characters whose actions and motives have a tangible psychological depth. Mr. Black/Banville is well in form here... It can be either plunged into without any need to reference the previous three or else taken as a welcome new installment of a sequential quartet by one of Ireland's leading contemporary novelists. (New York Journal of Books)
About the Author
Benjamin Black is the pen name of the novelist John Banville. As Black, he is the author of the bestselling and critically acclaimed Quirke novels, including Christine Falls, The Silver Swan, and Elegy for April, and his standalone novel, The Lemur. Christine Falls was nominated for both the Edgar Award and Macavity Award for Best Novel. Writing as John Banville, his novel The Sea is the winner of the 2005 Man Booker Prize. Black was born in Wexford, Ireland, and lives in Dublin.
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The characters are completely devoid of depth. An opportunity exists to get to know more about Sinclair but, although a focal point in the story, he remains one dimensional. We also should begin to know more about Hackett but alas we merely find out about his boots and socks. The core characters get a mention but feel like an after thought. And then there is Teddy. A good potential for a menacing villain but he never develops.
The overriding word that comes to mind for the novel is shallow - just scoring the surface of the story, but never getting deep enough to plant any seeds to eventually harvest a crop.
The Quirke novels are great, but having read all to date, out of order, there does seem to be an overarching theme, and one which despite when the novels are set, is contemporary. So I would suggest starting at the beginning, which isn't this one, but Christine Falls.
His prose is described in Wiki as dense. Which I like. Quirke is not a light read but not the consistency of say, Gibbons, but more like Waugh when not being frothy. The novels are utterly compelling.
So two questions need to be asked.
Firstly, is Benjamin Black a gateway to John Banville? In my case that will be a yes.
Secondly, given that the author has very good form as a screenwriter, could Quirke transfer to TV, and I think yes. So, Mr Banville, start the screenplay (not that you seem to have time on your hands from what your Wiki entry suggests, but we do need another long series of relatively clever TV detective fiction).
If you're looking for something really good and contemporary read any mystery by Cynthia Harrod Eagles (I hope I have her name right). She is one of the very, very best mystery writers of today, and has a fantastic sense of humor that adds to her plot.
Though Banville/Black writes beautifully, and these books might be almost throwaways (beach books in this season) to the great man himself, diversions in his down time between works of literature, the characters, both male and female, are, as some reviewers have noted, undeveloped and unpersuasive, starting with the central character who somehow manages to bed the most beautiful and interesting women for miles around for no apparent reason, yet remains bereft, permanently damaged from an orphan childhood. Been there; done that.
Some abstemious American reviewers have been annoyed by the seemingly gratuitious obsession with cigarettes and related paraphernalia, which does make the books read like a noir film script, no doubt what Banville's going for. This story is set in 1956 and the others a little earlier, times when smoking was de rigueur. Fortunately, however, Banville didn't forget gorse (hardcover 115), which is charming because American readers have no idea of gorse. And, of course, every cloud and sea is mauve, and much more, at some point or other.
Most recent customer reviews
Filled with cliches: the cop struggling not to relapse into alcoholism, the hated rich guy, the aloof widow, lonely childhoods, etc., etc.Read more