A Death in Summer

Written by Benjamin Black
Review by Ken Kreckel

This latest offering in the Quirke series opens with the shotgun killing of newspaper proprietor Richard Jewell, aka Diamond Dick. His own paper reports he died of a cerebral hemorrhage, yet others rumor it was a suicide. As both Quirke and the police settle down to investigating the actual cause of death, various roadblocks appear, not the least of which emanates from Irish anti-Semites. Throw in Quirke’s attraction to the widow, Françoise d’Aubigny, who is less than perturbed at her husband’s demise, we have all the elements familiar to readers of the genre.

Fans of Benjamin Black, or more properly the author’s actual name, John Banville, will not be disappointed. There is the same fresh, impeccable prose and the same tight plotting that are fixtures in the series. Yet to me, the familiarity of the characters is faintly disturbing. For Quirke himself is an amalgamation of other well-known detectives. Like Morse, he is known only by his last name and like countless other protagonists, he is no stranger to drink. His strained relationship with his daughter recalls Wallender. He is irresistible to women, in the tradition of Bond. Other characters beg comparisons as well.

A good book, yet I think too familiar by half.