John Banville’s credentials as a literary novelist are, of course, impeccable – but his track record in that field hardly guaranteed him success in the crime novels he decided to pen under the nom-de-plume of Benjamin Black. Despite some initial resistance, the first two Black novels, Christine Falls
and The Silver Swan
, gleaned a considerable following, with Black/Banville’s Dublin pathologist Quirke quickly established as an eccentric and individual protagonist. The 1950s settings are one of the most striking elements of the earlier books, and in the third novel The Lemur
, a standalone thriller set in modern America and Ireland, the earlier strengths are once more to the fore -- but in a contemporary form.
Irish-American billionaire William Mulholland has a past in intelligence, but his chief preoccupation has become the organisation he operates with his daughter Louise, the Mulholland Trust. Realising that a forthcoming biography is planning hatchet job on him, Mulholland plans a counter-attack by commissioning the once-influential journalist John Glass (his daughter’s husband) to pen the official biography - which will, inevitably, be far more sympathetic. The researcher employed by Glass, the youthful Dylan Riley, is the eponymous ’lemur’, so called because of his resemblance to that rodent. But Riley begins to uncover more than he should, and attempts blackmail. He is discovered dead.
The vividness of The Lemur is in its rich and loamy panoply of modern Ireland, both similar to and very different from the country that so many of its citizens moved to, the United States. Very different from the earlier Black books, but distinctive and ingenious. --Barry Forshaw
'Achieves a great deal in a short time . . . It's an edgy read, worthy of Don DeLillo' -- Evening Standard
'Banville is a sophisticated novelist...The characterisation is deft '
-- London Review of Books
'The Lemur has pace and bravado; the writing is sharp and the timing flawless while the prose, naturally, is brilliant.' -- Time Out
'The Lemur is a highly engaging read that should find considerable favour with crime novel aficionados' -- Hot Press
'This is...a masterclass in characterisation, which is spot-on...This is Banville revelling in creative freedom'
-- Waterstones' Books Quarterly
'This tautly written thriller is full of the beautiful observation and clear characterisation that you would expect.'
-- The Good Book Guide
'sleeker than his literary fiction but without any loss of his ability to perfectly describe situations...engrossing reading'
-- Irish Mail on Sunday