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Elegy for April: Quirke Mysteries Book 3
 
 

Elegy for April: Quirke Mysteries Book 3 [Kindle Edition]

Benjamin Black
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)

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Review

'Quirke is an endearing hero and, as in the previous two novels in which he appears, the Dublin of the 1950s - wet, cold, foggy, sinister - is evoked with harsh realism and nostalgia... A beguiling read' --The Times

'It is Dublin itself, half hidden by fog, that is the novel's truly sinister force here, a city suffused with illicit desires and suppressed racial, religious and political tensions, and in whose dank, coiling shadows strangers all too easily lurk. Banville, whose supple, easy writing glitters here like frost, layers tension with unhasty stealth... this excellent novel feels like a requiem for a cursed city as much as anything, its inhabitants' inner lives doomed to remain as locked away, unhappy and unknowable as whatever lies buried in the fog' --Metro

'Set in 1950s Dublin, it opens in a vivid and ghostly echo of Bleak House, with the city shrouded in a muffled silence of fog . . . The novel is brimming with memorable characters . . . The pace of the story is perfectly controlled, with an incrementally tightening grip of tension, and the plot delivers enough unexpected turns to satisfy the genre's aficionados . . . The author also brings to the telling of the story all the qualities that we associate with him: a supreme ability to evoke time and place, astute psychological insight and an elegant and sophisticated crafting of language that is a constant source of pleasure. The imaginative richness of the language, however, is never indulgent or gratuitous and in a particularly disciplined way is always made subservient to the flow of the narrative. It allows him not only to unravel the central mystery of the missing woman but also to explore the delicate subtleties of a tentative parent-child relationship, the damaged Quirke's search for healing, and today, when some of Ireland's economic and spiritual secrets the seeds of a sour fruit are being increasingly released, the novel offers an uncompromising insight into the abuse of power . . . Ultimately, Elegy for April is a novel that transcends any limitation of genre or categorisation, stands supremely confident in its achievement and, to this reader at least, reveals itself as good enough to take its place with anything John Banville has ever written' --The Irish Times

'Black has returned to Fifties Dublin and the lovable, ursine pathologist Quirke, who is just out of rehab and investigating the disappearance of his daughter's doctor friend, April. As always, Black's Ireland is simultaneously drab and darkly dangerous, but as his fans (or those of his more rarefied alter ego John Banville) will expect, flinty humour lightens the darkness and diamond sharp prose puts the quotidian in a new light' --Daily Telegraph

'Elegy for April, the third crime novel by Benjamin Black (a.k.a. literary writer John Banville), is everything any mystery fan could want, and a lot more. This book is the best of the Blacks so far. It's also as good, or better, than any of Banville's mainstream works, including his Booker Prize-winner, The Sea. Black's elegantly elaborate prose takes Quirke along the byways of Dublin with bits of back story, side stories, old history and Dublin's secrets . . .This is a gorgeously written, beautifully constructed story that will remain with you long after the final page' --The Globe and Mail, Canada

'Engrossing... A suspenseful whodunit... his depiction of a fragile father-daughter relationship is as powerful as the unsettling truth behind April's disappearance' --Publisher's Weekly

'Gorgeously precise and expressive prose' --Guardian

'Both Black and Banville are equally serious and stylish, blackly or bleakly comic and wonderfully sly. . . Really sharp-eyed readers will notice that the dust jacket features an atmospheric photograph by Life magazine's Tony Linck of Bachelor's Walk, looking westward on a bright but foggy day in winter. There is, amongst other vehicles, a "sit up and beg" Ford Prefect in the foreground with a sleek Alvis alongside and some pedestrians on the pavement. In all kinds of absorbing ways, Elegy for April is a set of variations on that captivating photograph' --Irish Independent

'Another quirky and page-turning book from Banville/Black' --Irish Post

'The writing has an elegance and nimbleness that surpass almost all other genre fiction. Black evokes Dublin -- which he knows inside out -- with an almost bitter love, and his feeling for the city's class and religious divisions and its urgent, albeit repressed, sexual atmospheres helps his characters spring from the page . . . The feel of Elegy for April and indeed the other Benjamin Black stories owes much to Ross Macdonald, Raymond Chandler and Georges Simenon, great mystery writers of the period in which Banville has chosen to place his own excursions into genre . . . Elegy for April is filled with thematic gloom, yet the writing sparkles. John Banville, writing as John Banville, is a deep-dish writer, always dazzling, sometimes overwrought; when adopting the Benjamin Black persona, he relaxes, though the results, stylistically speaking, are no less striking' --LA Times

'It's a cold world of fog and rain, and every setting, barbed conversation, and psychological maze Black (John Banville) crafts is gripping in its moody beauty, lancing wit, and subtle turns of mind as Quirke weaves his way to the shocking truth, and Phoebe, once again, is brutally denied happiness. In Black's atmospheric and penetrating works of Irish noir, pain, prejudice, greed, and violence brew behind lace curtains' --Booklist

'This is an interesting and accurate take on mid-twentieth-century Ireland, a chilly place for cheerless people in a corrupt society . . . beautiful writing' --Literary Review

'It may be heresy to say so, but I almost prefer Benjamin Black's books to those of John Banville, the Booker Prize-winning author who uses the pseudonym Black when writing his crime novels which are set in Fifties Dublin and feature the pathologist Quirke . . . Black brings all the elegance and intellectual rigour of his literary output to this evocative crime series' --Daily Mail

'Full of the mood and flavour of 1950s Dublin'
--The Herald

Product Description

1950's Ireland. As a deep, bewildering fog cloaks Dublin, a young woman is found to have vanished. When Phoebe Griffin, still haunted by the horrors of her past, is unable to discover news of her friend; Quirke, fresh from drying out in an institution, responds to his daughter's request for help. But as Phoebe, Quirke and Inspector Hackett speak with those who knew April, they begin to realise that there may have been more behind the young woman's discretion and secrecy than they could have imagined. And while Quirke finds himself distracted from his sobriety by a beautiful young actress, Phoebe watches helplessly as April's family hush up her disappearance, terrified of a scandal; and all possible leads seem to dry up, bar one she cannot bear to contemplate . . . When Quirke eventually makes a disturbing discovery, he is finally able to begin unravelling the great, complex web of love, lies, jealousy and dark secrets that April spun her life from . . .

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 449 KB
  • Print Length: 303 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0805090916
  • Publisher: Picador; TV tie-in ed edition (1 Oct 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0044KLPJM
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #80,276 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Murky noir as ever 26 July 2011
By Michael Watson TOP 1000 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Quirke is back for his third outing and he's on top form. Perhaps there is a little more emotion from him and it's good to see his return to favour via his daughter. For followers of this series, the author doesn't let his readers down.

A girl vanishes, Quirke's daughter, Phoebe, asks for his help in trying to find her and like the bulldog (Phobe and other females suggest he's more like a bull!) he doesn't let go.

The darkness of 1950s Dublin is brought again into the story, the atmosphere in the city is, for some of us, very nostalgic. Life's pace is slow, somewhat improved by Quirke's purchase of an Alvis Roadster much to the dismay of cyclists and pedestrians alike.

But this small piece of humour is offset by the story of the girl. Quirke's investigation, alongside his very good friend, Inspector Hackett, brings him into conflict with a powerful Irish family, a government minister and a hard-nosed dowager-like matriarch each intent on preventing a bleak family history returning into the glare of the modern world.

The end is reached very slowly, actually but the side story of Quirke's life and times fills the book with an easy-to-enjoy step back into an almost forgotten time. The fog - or smog as I recall, the non-stop smoking, the heavy drinking, the badly handled liaisons with the opposite sex, all make for a book which is a joy to read, despite the fact that when the end is reached, the tragedy of lives lost is a sad reminder of what goes on behind closed doors.

I've already read (and reviewed book 4) so I guess it'll be a long wait for book 5 but I have the patience! Anyway, it seems Irish writers, rather like their Scandanavian counterparts are on the increase - 'Dublin Dead' is next on my list.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful writing but something missing 23 Aug 2011
By S. B. Kelly VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Banville undoubtedly writes beautifully and many a sentence causes me to pause to admire its beauty. But the finely-tuned prose almost gets in the way of story, character and atmosphere.

Quirke remains likeable, although a recent stay at a drying-out clinic has not cured his thirst for booze (white wine doesn't count as `a drink', according to Quirke; useful to know).

The plot seems perfunctory, almost irrelevant: a friend of Quirke's neurotic daughter Phoebe has gone missing and evidence at her flat suggests that this may be following an abortion. Her family, who have long disowned her, are important people -- her uncle a government minister -- with a family mythology to uphold. Quirke, brought up in an orphanage, is condescendingly dismissed as not understanding such things.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Elegy For April 16 Sep 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
In my opinion the best of the 'Quirk' tales. Deep, dark and intriguing. In Banville style. Almost every sentence is poetry, difficult to get through without re-reading and savouring delicious sentences and paragraphs.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Waiting for something to happen 3 Nov 2014
Format:Kindle Edition
This book is beautifully written. It evokes the fog-enveloped gloom of 1950s Dublin. It provides insights into the claustrophobic world of the city's middle class. But nothing happens.

Phoebe thinks her friend April may have disappeared but April always was a bit of a wild one. Phoebe talks about it to Quirke. Quirke ruminates on his complex family history. He learns to drive. He occasionally does some work but when he does it's not very good.

Various people suddenly want to speak to Quirke with the express purpose of not telling him anything about April. They acknowledge that she may be missing, but then she always was a bit of a wild one. They remind us of Quirke's complex family history.

Quirke has a flash of insight then wraps up the mystery in a couple of pages, just in time for his complex family history to become even more complex.

I'm not sure whether John Banville is toying with his readers or whether he isn't really interested in crime fiction. I recently heard him talking on Radio 4 about how he found his Benjamin Black novels much easier to write than his literary novels. Perhaps he needs to find them a bit harder.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars So sorry but got bored! 22 April 2013
By Tara
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
'The Sea' is such a beautiful book that I was expecting great things from Banville's alter ego Benjamin Black. This book was on an Amazon offer so definitely worth a try but, when I'm reading a murder mystery type of book, I want it to be easy, pacy reading and this was not. Lovely writing of course but it seemed to be swathes of characters' thought processes and scenery with brief explosions of 'action' in the form of sudden revelations of information pertinent to April's demise. I found myself skipping through looking for these, determined to find something to enjoy but failing. I think I approached it in the wrong way, expecting a thriller and getting something else entirely!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Quirky (obviously) 12 April 2013
By JK
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This was my first Quirke (indeed, my first Banville), and perhaps for that reason, it took a while for the setting to establish itself in my mind's eye. But once I realised this was 1950s Dublin, all came into focus and began to make much more sense. Perhaps I should have started at the beginning.

Anyway, although I concede that the plot is rather gentle for this genre, at least for the 2013 reader, the writing is beautiful, far superior to that of most of the crime novels with which I spend my time, and Quirke is a pleasure to meet.

As long as you know you're getting a crime mystery, rather than a police procedural thriller, you won't be disappointed by this. A whole world is convincingly presented, and I'll certainly be heading back there soon ...
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
I discovered these books prior to the serial on TV, really enjoying them!
Published 2 months ago by eclectic reader
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Another great book from Benjamin Black which I enjoyed reading.
Published 4 months ago by Amazon Customer
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
A bit rambling.
Published 4 months ago by Michael Phelan
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
great
Published 5 months ago by RW Cranmer
4.0 out of 5 stars Good follow on from Nos 1&2
Good book which build on two earlier books in series and really develops the 50's feel for someone so ancient he lived through this preriod. Read more
Published 5 months ago by David Tuffield
5.0 out of 5 stars I thoroughly enjoyed all three of them and repeat my recommendation...
My comments on Qiuirke Mysteries Books 1 and 2 apply equally to this one. I thoroughly enjoyed all three of them and repeat my recommendation that they be read in sequence as the... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Dr
4.0 out of 5 stars A walk on the dark side
Everyone knows by now that Benjamin Back is the author John Banville writing detective novels. Set in the gloomy Dublin of 1950s Ireland, with Quirke, a pathologist, exploring the... Read more
Published 12 months ago by Jennifertapir
2.0 out of 5 stars Coronation Street on the Liffey
I have only read about 50 pages of this and find it increasingly tedious.
I had been told it was "beautifully written" and indeed there are 5 metaphors or similes in the first... Read more
Published 12 months ago by balzar
5.0 out of 5 stars Like all the other admirers of Benjamin Black,sold on the man!
Unlike any thriller-detective writer out there today.The Benjamin Black books are so original,so well written,i can only admir the man. Read more
Published 13 months ago by J. Storey
4.0 out of 5 stars April
This book transports you back to a simpler time and a less frenetic age which is rather relaxing. !! Excellent in fact .
Published 15 months ago by Sue K
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