9 February 2016

Review: EVEN THE DEAD, Benjamin Black

  • published by Penguin Random House 2015
  • ISBN 978-0-241-19734-9
  • source: my local library
  • #7 in the Quirke series
  • 262 pages
  • author website
Synopsis (author website)

A suspicious death, a pregnant woman suddenly gone missing: Quirke's latest case leads him inexorably toward the dark machinations of an old foe

Perhaps Quirke has been down among the dead too long. Lately the Irish pathologist has suffered hallucinations and blackouts, and he fears the cause is a brain tumor. A specialist diagnoses an old head injury caused by a savage beating; all that's needed, the doctor declares, is an extended rest. But Quirke, ever intent on finding his place among the living, is not about to retire.

One night during a June heat wave, a car crashes into a tree in central Dublin and bursts into flames. The police assume the driver's death was either an accident or a suicide, but Quirke's examination of the body leads him to believe otherwise. Then his daughter Phoebe gets a mysterious visit from an acquaintance: the woman, who admits to being pregnant, says she fears for her life, though she won't say why. When the woman later disappears, Phoebe asks her father for help, and Quirke in turn seeks the assistance of his old friend Inspector Hackett. Before long the two men find themselves untangling a twisted string of events that takes them deep into a shadowy world where one of the city's most powerful men uses the cover of politics and religion to make obscene profits.

Even the Dead—Benjamin Black's seventh novel featuring the endlessly fascinating Quirke—is a story of surpassing intensity and surprising beauty.

My Take

Let me say first of all that I haven't read all the titles in this series (see the list below). While EVEN THE DEAD is not a stand alone, there is enough background detail in it to assist the new reader, and perhaps to encourage them to read previous titles.

Quirke has not been in to work for some months but his assistant feels in serious need of his opinion about the death in a burning car in Phoenix Park. This appears to be the prompt that Quirke needs to get back to work but even then he does not appear to take up the reins full time. He in turn consults his friend Inspector Hackett and they pursue the clues as they arise.

There is a lot of exploration of relationships: Quirke's with his own daughter Phoebe, Phoebe's own with her new boss, Quirke's with his half brother Malachy Griffin, new friendships, and eventually Quirke gets confirmation of his own parentage.

Another good read, and another author for you to look for if you haven't already "discovered" him.

My rating: 4.7

I have also read

Benjamin Black is the pseudonym of John Banville.
Among the awards John Banville's novels have won are the Allied Irish Banks fiction prize, the American-Irish Foundation award, the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, the Guardian Fiction Prize. In 1989 The Book of Evidence was shortlisted for the Booker Prize, and was awarded the first Guinness Peat Aviation Award; in Italian, as La Spiegazione dei Fatti, the book was awarded the 1991 Premio Ennio Flaiano. Ghosts was shortlisted for the Whitbread Fiction Prize 1993, The Untouchable for the same prize in 1997. In 2003 he was awarded the Premio Nonino. He has also received a literary award from the Lannan Foundation in the U.S. He won the Man Booker Prize 2005 for The Sea

Macavity Awards Best Novel nominee (2007) : Christine Falls

Edgar Awards Best Novel nominee (2008) : Christine Falls

The Quirke series
1. Christine Falls (2006)
2. The Silver Swan (2007)
3. Elegy for April (2010)
4. A Death in Summer (2011)
5. Vengeance (2012)
6. Holy Orders (2013)
7. Even the Dead (2015)

1 comment:

Anne H said...

I love the Quirke novels! I also really enjoyed the far too few (only 3) adaptations for TV starring Gabriel Byrne, available on DVD. I only discovered the existence of this new Quirke about a week ago and as I write it is on its way from the Book Depository. Highly anticipated already, enjoyed the review!


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