23 July 2014

Review: HOLY ORDERS, Benjamin Black

  • published by Henry Holt and Company 2013
  • ISBN 978-0-8050-9440-4
  • 286 pages
  • source: my local library
  • #6 in the Quirke series- Benjamin Black is a penname for John Banville
Synopsis (author website)

When the body of his daughter’s friend is brought to his autopsy table, Quirke is plunged into a world of corruption that takes him to the darkest corners of the Irish Church and State.

“At first they thought it was the body of a child. Later, when they got it out of the water and saw the pubic hair and the nicotine stains on the fingers, they realized their mistake.”

So begins the latest Quirke case, a story set in Dublin at a moment when newspapers are censored, social conventions are strictly defined, and appalling crimes are hushed up. Why? Because in 1950s Ireland the Catholic Church controls the lives of nearly everyone. But when Quirke’s daughter Phoebe loses her close friend Jimmy Minor to murder, Quirke can no longer play by the Church’s rules. Along with Inspector Hackett, his sometime partner, Quirke investigates Jimmy’s death and learns just how far the Church and its supporters will go to protect their own interests.

Haunting, fierce, and brilliantly plotted, this is Benjamin Black writing at the top of his form. His inimitable creation, the endlessly curious Quirke, brings a pathologist’s unique understanding of death to unlock the most dangerous of secrets.

My Take

I can't believe that this is the first Benjamin Black title that I have read. I do remember the debut novel CHRISTINE FALLS being published and the speculation that Benjamin Black was somebody who had already made his name in another genre. (Among others things the Man Booker Prize for 2005).

HOLY ORDERS taps into what has become an international theme of the Catholic Church abusing the children supposedly under its care. It is something Quirke is familiar with having had an institutional upbringing himself. Mixed in with this theme is Quirke's own failure with regard to his relationship with his daughter.

It makes good reading.

My rating: 4.8


Anonymous said...

I'm glad you enjoyed this one Kerrie.

Anne H said...

These are terrific books. I'm glad you've discovered them, Kerrie. I've read them all in sequence, and this one was particularly poignant because Jimmy Minor had featured in previous books; if not particularly likable, he was a friend of Phoebe and part of Quirke's world.


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