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Elegy for April: A Novel [Hardcover]

2 Ratings: 2.5
A book by Benjamin Black

Starred Review. Black's engrossing third crime thriller set in 1950s Dublin (afterThe Silver Swan) finds pathologist Garret Quirke fresh from a stint in alcohol rehab. Quirke reluctantly agrees to help his daughter, Phoebe Griffin, with whom he has a … see full wiki

Author: Benjamin Black
Genre: Literature & Fiction
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
1 review about Elegy for April: A Novel [Hardcover]

A relatively good build to a largely unexciting climax

  • Jun 11, 2010
This was my first novel by this author, who writes non-genre fiction under the name John Banville. This story takes place in Dublin, Ireland, and I wasn't always able to keep up with the language--i.e., understanding what all the words/slang meant--and I found this disruptive to the flow of the story.

The story follows pathologist Quirke as he helps his daughter Phoebe look into the disappearance of her friend, April. April is something of a flake, so everyone Phoebe goes to with her concern about April's absence gives her the same dismissive answer along the lines of "Well you KNOW how she IS!" Complicating Quirke's investigation is the fact that April is a member of a very prestigious and influential family who guard their private lives (especially their skeletons) very closely.

While I found the book somewhat slow, the writing and the story was (just) good enough to keep me reading. Speaking of the writing, learning that this author is an "acclaimed novelist" outside the crime genre came as no surprise, since the level of writing is quite a bit different from the average crime novel. That isn't necessarily a good thing, though, at least not to me. His style of writing felt a bit too formal for this genre. It also felt a little like he was trying to impress us with his writing skills. I've read a extensively in the mystery/thriller/crime genre, but mostly American authors, so perhaps it is a cultural/language issue.

Black does a relatively good job at keeping the tension going and slowly building the story. Perhaps I'm jaded by reading much more intense mystery/thrillers, but the climax of the story, when it is finally revealed what happened to April, was something of a "So what?" to me. Not only could I see it coming but the crime didn't seem big enough or the storyline complex enough compared to the novels I'm accustomed to reading by Jeffery Deaver, John Sandford, etc.

While I don't regret reading the book, I also don't have any immediate plans to read any more of the author's work, at least not in this genre. It just didn't click with me.

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