Saturday, 17 August 2013
Vengeance - Benjamin Black
Vengeance (2012) is the fifth of the Quirke Dublin novels, now rebranded Quirke Mysteries, presumably to tie in with the forthcoming TV series. Banville-Black writes as beautifully as ever and his distillation of period is flawless - but he does tend to forget that these are supposed to be a) mysteries and b) thrillers. There is no mystery here - I still have no idea why a suicide needs a witness - and zero thrills. It's a sort of Agatha Christie, dirty-deeds amid the middleclass, without the plotting but with greatly enhanced literary ability.
I don't mind the lack of plot; Black could write a shopping list and I'd still read it. The continuing characters are developed further, the one-off characters, by and large, are distinct and well-drawn, if a little devoid of purpose. I do wish Black had avoided the twins trap. The same cheap trick ruined Colin Dexter for me and Monsignor Knox was making a rule forbidding it. It's just lazy.
None of these quibbles will prevent me reading more. The sixth Quirke Mystery, out now in hardback, is Holy Orders. Can't wait.