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The Book of Evidence Paperback – 5 Mar 2010

4.3 out of 5 stars 41 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Picador; Reprints edition (5 Mar. 2010)
  • Language: English, Spanish
  • ISBN-10: 0330371878
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330371872
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 1.5 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 70,377 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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

Book Description

The darkly compelling confession of an improbable murderer, shortlisted for the 1989 Booker Prize.

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By Bluecashmere. TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 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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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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By Susie B TOP 100 REVIEWER on 7 July 2015
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Freddie Montgomery is a man who likes to take chances, and when he discovers an acquaintance of his has a secret, he blackmails him into handing over a large amount of hush money. Freddie and his wife, Daphne, who are temporarily domiciled on a Mediterranean island, have a high old time spending the cash, but it is not until practically all of the money has been squandered that Freddie discovers it has been borrowed from a wily loan shark, who is expecting Freddie to pay him back, and quickly. Freddie leaves his wife (and their small son) and returns home to the family 'pile' in Ireland, only to discover that his widowed mother has sold all the family heirlooms, including the paintings, in order to keep her head above water. Furious that his mother has sold what Freddie considers his birthright, he storms out of the house to pay a visit to Helmut Behrens, an old friend of the family, who Freddie suspects has bought the Montgomery family's paintings for less than they were worth. When he spots a valuable Dutch master in the Behren's drawing room, Freddie concocts a hare-brained scheme to return and steal the painting - which surprisingly he manages to accomplish, but then something goes very wrong and Freddie finds himself on remand for murder (not a spoiler, we know right from the outset that Freddie is in prison facing a murder charge).

First-person narrated by the very self-absorbed (and probably psychopathic) Freddie, John Banville's 1989 Booker Prize shortlisted 'The Book of Evidence' pulls the reader into Freddie's world, and what a very unsettling place Freddie's world is. But Freddie, we soon discover, is a rather unreliable narrator, so how much of his sorry tale can we believe?
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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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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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