Benjamin Black, pseudonym for Irish writer John Banville, has written number five in a series of crime noir novels featuring Detective Inspector Hackett and Dr. Quirke, a pathologist at the Hospital of the Holy Family in Dublin. Dr. Quirke is not without his own problems. He struggles with alcohol abuse and a shattered relationship with his daughter, Phoebe. She has only recently found out that he is her biological father and not her uncle as she had been led to believe for so many years.
This story takes place in Dublin in the 1950s and begins with a suicide, not murder. The Delahaye and Clancy families have been in business together for nearly 50 years; one is Catholic, the other Protestant, and that’s not the only difference. The Clancys have always taken a back seat to the Delahayes, and resentment runs deep through the Clancy family. When Victor Delahaye takes his boat out for the day, he insists that Jack Clancy’s son go with him. Davy Clancy can only look on in horror as Victor pulls a gun and shoots himself. Inspector Hackett asks Quirke to go with him to tell the family. Quirke’s curiosity gets the better of him, and soon he is entangled in the lives of these two families and their idiosyncrasies. But murder is lurking in the background, and soon another family member is dead. There is a plethora of characters/suspects in both families, and Quirke must follow them to the conclusion.
This book was well written, because it’s John Banville, after all, but I thought it was a bit boring. I have read the earlier books and would recommend the reader start there. Dr. Quirke’s character seemed much fresher and held more promise in the beginning.