Detective Strafford is investigating the murder of a priest in County Wexford, Ireland. The murder happened in the country house of Colonel Osborne, just before Christmas, in the 1950s. During the investigation, Strafford encounters dark secrets, embedded in Ireland’s social and political culture.
BOOK SNAPS: The book starts off as a straightforward Agatha Christie-ish murder mystery, but it has a dark(er) side. And this is where this reader felt that it is a bit out-of-kilter. I wanted it to be one or the other. “Banville’s engagement with the genre of crime or detective novels is partial. His ambitions for his novel are more complex. (New York Times). As The Scotsman notes “The question of whodunnit is of less importance in John Banville’s new detective story than conjuring up the social and political atmosphere of 1950s Ireland.” However, there is no doubt that the writing is “skillful and elegant” (Washington Independent Review of Books).
“His life was a state of peculiar calm, of tranquil equilibrium. His strongest drive was curiosity, the simple wish to know, to be let in on what was hidden from others. Everything to him had the aspect of a cipher. Life was a mundane mystery, the clues to the solving of which were strewn all about, concealed or, far more fascinatingly, hidden in plain view, for all to see but for him alone to recognize. The dullest object could, for him, flare into sudden significance, could throb in the sudden awareness of itself.”
Author: John Banville