Elegy for April
By Benjamin Black
Henry Holt and Co., Hardcover, 9780805090918, 304pp.
Publication Date: April 13, 2010
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Quirke—the hard-drinking, insatiably curious Dublin pathologist—is back, and he's determined to find his daughter's best friend, a well-connected young doctor
April Latimer has vanished. A junior doctor at a local hospital, she is something of a scandal in the conservative and highly patriarchal society of 1950s Dublin. Though her family is one of the most respected in the city, she is known for being independent-minded; her taste in men, for instance, is decidedly unconventional.
Now April has disappeared, and her friend Phoebe Griffin suspects the worst. Frantic, Phoebe seeks out Quirke, her brilliant but erratic father, and asks him for help. Sober again after intensive treatment for alcoholism, Quirke enlists his old sparring partner, Detective Inspector Hackett, in the search for the missing young woman. In their separate ways the two men follow April's trail through some of the darker byways of the city to uncover crucial information on her whereabouts. And as Quirke becomes deeply involved in April's murky story, he encounters complicated and ugly truths about family savagery, Catholic ruthlessness, and race hatred.
Both an absorbing crime novel and a brilliant portrait of the difficult and relentless love between a father and his daughter, this is Benjamin Black at his sparkling best.
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 A Death In Summer, 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.
“Striking, filled with thematic gloom, yet the writing sparkles… like Chandler, [Black’s] a poet of locale, preoccupied by weather and by light or its absence.”—The Los Angeles Times “Elegant.... [Black/Banville’s] sinuous prose, subtle eroticism and 1950s period detail do more than enough to put [his] series on the map.”—The New York Times “Methodical, detailed and always gripping.”—USA Today “[A] gorgeously sad and atmospheric book about family, lust, friendship and ‘50s-style repression.”—The Seattle Times “Like its predecessors Christine Falls and The Silver Swan, Mr. Black/Banville’s new tale of misdeeds is powerfully written, laced with lyrical visual imagery about a distant Ireland still getting used to the 20th century and peopled with sharply drawn characters.”—Pittsburgh Post-Gazette “Cool, atmospheric… Mr. Black/Banville has raised the bar for the soul’s-night genre.”—Dallas Morning News “The greatest satisfactions of reading Elegy for April come from the atmosphere of 1950s Dublin, in which coal-fire-assisted smog impairs visibility.”—The Denver Post “In Elegy for April, he’s nailed down the recipe, the style and pace that allows him to craft a story of suspense while filling it with sharp-eyed, bigger picture observations.”—Time Out Chicago “A master of atmosphere; the fear and dread associated with hidden desires and deeds fairly leap off the page.”—Library Journal, starred review “Black’s engrossing third crime thriller set in 1950s Dublin finds pathologist Garret Quirke fresh from a stint in alcohol rehab... Black is equally concerned with exploring the idea of family and loyalty as with spinning a suspenseful whodunit, and his depiction of a fragile father-daughter relationship is as powerful as the unsettling truth behind April's disappearance.”—Publishers Weekly, starred review “Quirke, the haunted Dublin pathologist and haphazard sleuth, returns in the third in Black's superb series of sharply etched, nearly Jamesian mysteries... In Black's atmospheric and penetrating works of Irish noir, pain, prejudice, greed, and violence brew behind lace curtains.”—Booklist, starred review “What sets it apart is the uncanny ability of Black (The Lemur, 2008) to bring his characters alive with flashes of piercing insight, whether Quirke's dealing with his stepmother-in-law or learning to drive.”—Kirkus Reviews