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The Silver Swan: A Novel (Quirke) Paperback – February 3, 2009
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Intrusion: A Novel
A loving couple, grieving the loss of their son, finds their marriage in free fall when a beautiful, long-lost acquaintance inserts herself into their lives. Learn More
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Top Customer Reviews
The Silver Swan is one of those books that reminds me of why I like to read series novels in order. I hadn't read the first book John Banville published under the Benjamin Black name, but Henry Holt were kind enough to drop this one on my doorstep unannounced a couple of months ago, so I figured I'd read it. Black, even more than, say, Robert Parker, draws heavily on the events of his earlier novel for this one; I'm sure the epilogue would have resonated with me a great deal more had I read Christine Falls. That said, Banville still writes a very capable mystery, when he's not wallowing in the past misdeeds of Garret Quirke, the medical examiner/amateur sleuth who once again finds himself enmeshed in a mystery he doesn't really want anything to do with.
In this case, he is approached by an old college classmate, Billy Hunt, with a simple request-- his wife has just died, drowned, and Billy would like Quirke not to perform an autopsy on the body, Quirke agrees, but it's pretty standard operating procedure in mystery novels that such a request (which is relatively common in real life for religious reasons) is going to spark some neurons; in performing a quick examination of the body, Quirke finds a fresh needle mark, and we're off to the races. Things are not helped out by the fact that Quirke's daughter Phoebe is a client at the Silver Swan, Hunt's wife's salon, and that her flamboyant ex-business partner seems to be taking more than a consumerly interest in the girl.
The best thing about Banville-writing-as-Black is that he's not afraid to slap both the reader and the mystery genre around a bit.Read more ›
Black is a literary stylist who revels in long descriptive passages laced with elegant similes and metaphors. He uses an omniscient narrator to delve into each character's innermost thoughts. Even after Deirdre's death, the author utilizes flashbacks to explore the inner demons that drove this tortured woman to engage in reckless behavior. She had been a beautiful girl with reddish gold hair and brilliant blue eyes; sadly, her impoverished and angst-ridden childhood left her scarred for life. Partly to escape her unrelenting misery, she married Billy Hunt, a stolid man nearly sixteen years her senior.Read more ›
Through flashbacks and shifts in the point of view from Quirke to the other characters involved in Deirdre Hunt's story, her complicated life unfolds. Deirdre, partners in a beauty salon with Leslie White, a roue, has been exploring the "spiritual healing" of Dr. Hakeem Kreutz, a man of German/Indian background who teaches her about his Sufi religion while engaging in secret activities. Inevitably, Deirdre becomes more and more controlled by outsiders, less able to make decisions, less grounded in reality. The involvement of someone close to Quirke makes him even more determined to understand Deirdre's death.
Quirke is an engaging and sympathetic protagonist. Sober for six months when this novel opens, he longs to become closer to his estranged daughter Phoebe, though he recognizes that he has no right to her affection. As Quirke, Deirdre, Phoebe, and the other principal characters reveal their unique points of view, the characterization and the plot expand.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Benjamin Black is incapable of writing a bad sentence. I would reread paragraphs because they were so refined. Read morePublished 6 days ago by Ellivretnec
I was a little disappointed with this one. We get the usual deep characters, some of whom understand themselves very little, and an interesting combination of circumstances. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Jim53
Just found this series and am tearing through it. I haven't found a more enjoyable writer in this genre since Sue Grafton.Published 5 months ago by Marksquared
Black's writing paints vivid, descriptive vistas and creates an engaging atmosphere. I found myself driven to read in order to visualize the settings and environments with such... Read morePublished 5 months ago by Linda W.
A good proportion of readers have probably read another Black before and know what they want. Fine, whatever. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Fern Heidrick
Don't buy this, watch the pbs series. Much less wandering in everyone's psyche to no purpose and much more mysteryPublished 13 months ago by D. Light