Thursday, April 1, 2010

Elegy for April by Benjamin Black

We put all of Benjamin Black’s (the pen name for Booker-prize winning author, John Banville) books in our Mystery section, but it’s more accurate to call them Crime Novels. There is a whodunit element, but their real strength is in atmosphere and character. In the opening pages of Elegy for April there is an unseasonable fog flooding the streets of 1950s Dublin. Black evokes it so well, with such gentle intensity, that I was sorry when the weather began to clear. This story again features the alcoholic, brooding pathologist Quirke from Christine Falls, his complicated family connections, and the power system in Ireland. Even in the moments when the pace began to almost lull me, I couldn’t put it down. I felt like I’d gone back in time, like I was right there at Quirke’s shoulder as he made a hash of his relationships, struggled to resist the Bushmills, and doggedly did not let anyone get away with murder.