Monday, 25 February 2013

A Death in Summer - Benjamin Black

The fourth of Black/Banville's Quirk Dublin series and the successor to Elegy for April, reviewed below (October 2012).  The standard is every bit as high and I admire the subtlety with which BB uses the Fifties to reflect on the present.  It would be giving too much away to say how in this instance, save to say it is Ireland's perennial problem.  As the indomitable Inspector Hackett puts it on the penultimate page, "It's the times, Doctor Quirke, and the place.  We haven't grown up yet, here on this tight little island.  But we do what we can, you and I.  That's all we can do."

The plotting is so superbly done in this novel - tightly integrated like a Swiss watch movement - that I find it impossible to comment specifically without giving the game away.  As it happens, I did guess whodunit for once.  Did it matter?  Not a jot.  The crime is merely the frame in which the artist develops his canvas.  The best period detective series around.   The latest Quirke is Vengeance, and between A Death in Summer and Vengeance came The Lemur, which apparently links Fifties Dublin with modern Manhattan.  Can't wait.

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