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The Book of Evidence [Paperback]

John Banville
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
RRP: £8.99
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Book Description

5 Mar 2010

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 LolitaObserver

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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Product details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Picador; New Ed edition (5 Mar 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0330371878
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330371872
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 1.4 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 64,699 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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.

Product Description

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

From the Back Cover

25TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION WITH EXTRA MATERIAL

Frederick Charles St John Vanderveld Montgomery. Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth? Don't make me laugh.

Freddie Montgomery has committed two crimes. He stole a Dutch old-master painting from a wealthy family friend and murdered the chambermaid who caught him in the act. Narcissistic, greedy and reckless, Freddie travels through life apparently without remorse. However, as he narrates his testimony, he realizes that the only person to be held responsible for his life, and his crimes, is himself. He just can't quite admit it yet . . .

Shortlisted for the 1989 Booker Prize, The Book of Evidence is a wonderfully dark, insightful and unnerving crime novel. Taking us into the unreliable mind of an improbable murderer, it is a deeply lyrical exploration of the human mind.

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

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


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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
5.0 out of 5 stars You must read this book!! 9 Aug 2010
Format:Paperback
You must read this book Mr Banville out shines himself each time a read a book written by him i hated finising this book. I wanted it to go on and on. I cannot rate this book high enough at last we have writer equal to Yeats Synge and many more!!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Hung jury. 5 Feb 2012
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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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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Crime and Banishment 8 July 2013
Format:Paperback
Banville's book is a deeply unpleasant read, not because it's badly written, but because it is narrated in the first-person by a deeply unpleasant character.

The plot of the book seems drawn from the real-life story of Irish socialite killer Macolm McArthur, an allusion to whom may have influenced Banville in his choice of 'Montgomery' as the surname for his central character (McArthur...Montgomery... geddit?).

Many have compared this book to the Russian classic 'Crime and Punishment', however the parallels between both books seem almost as mirror negatives of each other; whereas Raskolnikov's crime is planned and measured, Montgomery's actions are impulsive and improvised. Raskolnikov is racked by his conscience after his criminal act yet Montgomery remains relatively morally unmolested by his own actions. Even the comparative sizes of the books are polar opposites, 'The Book of Evidence' being a mercifully short read for the reason outlined at the start of this review.

Banville earns his 'master of prose' plaudit alone for the voicing of the Mongomery character. Evoking Gogol, he displaces the reader from his or her locus of rational morality to view the world through the eyes of someone who is deeply mentally ill.

Mongomery ultimately only feels shame for his actions, no other remorse seems present and no redemption is invoked. His sciopathic nature is chillingly revealed when he recounts the dying words of the young girl he has murdered. Initially, he thinks she is mumbling the word 'Tommy' over and over again. Later on, he releases with amused detachment that the word she was actually saying was 'Mammy'.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A dark, gritty and compelling read. 15 Mar 2007
Format:Paperback
This is my second Banville, after `The Untouchable', and third if I include `Christine Falls' written under his nom de plume - Benjamin Black. Much comment has been made regarding JB's style and the need for the reader to have a dictionary/thesaurus close at hand to unearth the meaning of a word here and there. I am no exception in that regard; whilst I read widely I do not consider myself to be particularly well-read and yet enjoyed looking up the odd word/expression and found it enhanced the meaning. I also suspect he is having a bit of fun: an example being the description of Montgomery's post-coital state as being `...balanic, ataraxic bliss...'

Lots of words would describe the story: dark, gritty, compelling . All somewhat clichéd and unbanvillian for which I apologise, but a great read nevertheless.

I am delighted to have discovered this author and have no hesitation in giving this book, along with `The Untouchable' a 5-star rating and am looking forward to his others.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great
Published 1 month ago by Rosemarie Kelly
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Book condition fine, content not so good.
Published 2 months ago by Vincent Parker
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Banville is one of the best writers today.
Published 2 months ago by Anne Houghton
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Not an easy read but written so beautifully .. worth a repeat ....
Published 3 months ago by Mrs. Marielaine Church
4.0 out of 5 stars Not up to the author's usual very high standard, in my opinion
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'... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Dr R
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece
Based on a true story, this is a fascinating exploration of the mind of a murderer and his world. Irish writer John Banville is a brilliant stylist,and in this novel he combines... Read more
Published 8 months ago by J. H. Bretts
4.0 out of 5 stars A Murder in Ireland
I read only two John Banville (JB) novels before this one. I loved his Booker Prize winner "The Sea" and his earlier "The Untouchable" about Anthony Blunt, the UK's infamous and... Read more
Published 12 months ago by Amazon Customer
1.0 out of 5 stars Seriously overrated
I can't understand why people are so enthusiastic about this one. Let's get the question of style out of the way ('Banville writes exquisitely'): good, even exquisite, writing is... Read more
Published 13 months ago by William Reynolds
4.0 out of 5 stars A really good read.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. Banville's sense of mood is legendary. His descriptions of places and people are so vivid Its almost like being there.
Published 13 months ago by Mr. Philip Naessens
4.0 out of 5 stars fantastic?
Yet another great read from Banville. Beautiful prose which allows the language to carry the story being told by a murderer sitting in his prison cell. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Case69
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