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The Book of Evidence [Kindle Edition]

John Banville
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £8.99
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Kindle Edition, 19 Aug. 2011 £6.25  
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Book Description

Freddie Montgomery has committed two crimes. He stole a small Dutch master from a wealthy family friend, and he murdered a chambermaid who caught him in the act. He has little to say about the dead girl. He killed her, he says, because he was physically capable of doing so. It made perfect sense to smash her head in with a hammer. What he cannot understand, and would desperately like to know, is why he was so moved by an unattributed portrait of a middle-aged woman that he felt compelled to steal it . . . ‘Banville has excelled himself in a flawlessly flowing prose whose lyricism, patrician irony and aching sense of loss are reminiscent of Lolita’ Observer ‘The Book of Evidence is a major work of fiction in which every suave moment calmly detonates to show the murderous gleam within. Banville writes a dangerous and clear-running prose and has a grim gift of seeing people’s souls’ Don DeLillo ‘One of the most important writers now at work in English – a key thinker, in fact, in fiction’ London Review of Books ‘Remarkable. . . If all crime novels were like this one, there would no longer be the need for a genre’ Ruth Rendell

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Review

Remarkable. . . If all crime novels were like this one, there would no longer be the need for a genre (Ruth Rendell)

The Book of Evidence is a major work of fiction in which every suave moment calmly detonates to show the murderous gleam within. Banville writes a dangerous and clear-running prose and has a grim gift of seeing people's souls (Don DeLillo)

Banville has excelled himself in a flawlessly flowing prose whose lyricism, patrician irony and aching sense of loss are reminiscent of Lolita (Observer)

One of the most important writers now at work in English - a key thinker, in fact, in fiction (London Review of Books)

Review

" Here is an astonishing, disturbing little novel that might have been coughed up from hell." - "The New York Times Book Review
"
" Ireland' s finest contemporary novelist." - "The Economist
"
" The Book of Evidence is a major new work of fiction in which every suave moment calmly detonates to show the murderous gleam within." - Don DeLillo

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More About the Author

John Banville was born in Wexford, Ireland, in 1945. He is the author of fifteen novels including The Sea, which won the 2005 Man Booker Prize. He lives in Dublin.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars master of prose 16 Jun. 2010
Format:Paperback
Banville writes exquisitely. The sentences are invariably arresting and his use of language and imagery is magnificent. It's a very dark novel; so dark that I had to put it down for a few days at a time in order for the enormity and the relentless misery of the protagonist's situation to sink in. But if you allow yourself time for his prose to sink in, you will return to Banville's work again and again. Once finished, it's worth reading all over again. A very compelling novel indeed.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Hung jury. 5 Feb. 2012
By Bluecashmere. TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
This book has excited great enthusiasm from reviewers but for me the parts - or at least some of them - seem greater than the whole. It starts with some wonderfully sharp, original and focused writing, compelling attention, admiration and the desire to read on. Throughout there are patches of evocation which transcend areas that are much looser. The opening to Part 2 is again beautifully written and again promises to lift the narrative from the rather ordinary into which the latter half of Part 1 has slumped. I'm not at all sure that the central character is of sufficient interest, so that felicities of style come to be valued for their own sake rather than for their role in developing a complex psychology. The ending seems at best arbitrary and the secondary characters are close to stereotypes. Banville can certainly write and the concept promises much. However, at the end I wondered what it all really added up to. I was left with the sense of something approaching a lost opportunity.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By Dr R TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
John Banville's books are so full of words that it is useful to have a dictionary on hand to check the less familiar, such as `balanic', `ataraxic', `ototomic', `accidie', gleet' and `stravaige'. The narrator, Freddie Montgomery [Frederick Charles St John Vanderveld Montgomery], writing from prison where he is held on a charge of murder, requests a dictionary early on so as to ensure that his usage is correct.

The story of Freddie's life, leading to how he ended up in prison, is revealed slowly with flashbacks in a series of jigsaw pieces. However, as well as being prolix the narrator is offering us his version of events, so his story cannot be taken on trust.

Freddie is a research statistician who was well-respected within his field and worked for a decade in America. Then he gave it all up to return to Europe with his wife, Daphne, to live in a number of locations in the Mediterranean. He lets his funds slip through his fingers and naively obtains a loan that, rather to his surprise, must be repaid. Whilst his wife and family are kept as hostages, he returns to Ireland in search of the necessary funds.

There are some wonderful descriptions, such as when Freddie returns to see his mother after 10 years and finds the house derelict with his father's collection of paintings sold off to Helmut `Binkie' Behrens, to support his mother's idea of raising Connemara ponies as pets for `Japs and Germans'. Since this was the hoped-for source of money, Freddie visits `Whitewater', a surprisingly insecure mansion, to see whether he can convince Behrens and his daughter, Anna, to return some or all of his inheritance but finds that the works have already been sold.
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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars obviously neglected masterpiece 9 Jun. 1999
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Though I'm loath to use words such as masterpiece about anything at all, it seems reasonable to resort to hyperbole here if only to get peoples attention and earn Mr. Banville some money. If you've read anything by this author then you'll have a pretty good idea where this novel is going but the themes and use of language are here employed with a proximity to objective, Schillerian perfection never matched before or since. This is one of the very few books I continually foist upon all my friends in the hope that they will recognise its wonderful malignancy and sour humour and palpable, impressionist nuance. No-one gets it. Maybe it's an Irish thing. Guardian reviews constantly cite Banville's extrordinary use of language but this (and all the others, although Ghosts is probably taking advantage of the publisher's flushed benevolence) is more than an excercise or dank adventure in prose. It is seeped in the traditions of Joyce, Beckett, Nabakov, your own life. Start here and then trace the lives of the characters through the oblique variations in subsequent novels. The lives of the Enlightenment physicists are gorgeous too, Kepler in particular.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Delicious opening narrative, rich with metaphors 22 Jan. 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Consider this a warning that I'm far from objective when it comes to John Banville and his incandescent yet gritty fiction. No one crafts sentences with more thrift or flourish. His art is to select just the right word to construct backdrops, frame characters, and set action into motion, simultaneously folding in parentheticals to add running commentary or to intimately ruminate on past events. Reading Banville is a slow exercise in the best sense. It takes time to appreciate the cadence of prose that rivals poetry, drama, and paintings. His descriptions are keen and bestow a vibrancy that is palatable. Athena is a paean to a seductress, a muse, a figment that utterly captivates until she "steps out of her frame". This is an earthy literary confection to be savored.
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