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Even the Dead

av Benjamin Black

Serier: Quirke (7)

MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygOmnämnanden
22528120,561 (3.82)16
"Perhaps Quirke has been down among the dead too long. Lately the Irish pathologist has suffered hallucinations and blackouts, and he fears the cause is a brain tumor. A specialist diagnoses an old head injury caused by a savage beating; all that's needed, the doctor declares, is an extended rest. But Quirke, ever intent on finding his place among the living, is not about to retire. One night during a June heat wave, a car crashes into a tree in central Dublin and bursts into flames. The police assume the driver's death was either an accident or a suicide, but Quirke's examination of the body leads him to believe otherwise. Then his daughter Phoebe gets a mysterious visit from an acquaintance: the woman, who admits to being pregnant, says she fears for her life, though she won't say why. When the woman later disappears, Phoebe asks her father for help, and Quirke in turn seeks the assistance of his old friend Inspector Hackett. Before long the two men find themselves untangling a twisted string of events that takes them deep into a shadowy world where one of the city's most powerful men uses the cover of politics and religion to make obscene profits. In this enthralling book--his seventh novel featuring the endlessly fascinating Quirke--Benjamin Black has crafted a story of surpassing intensity and surprising beauty"--Publisher.… (mer)
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Quirke renacido. Sigue con sus problemas pero parece que esta saliendo del pozo. Luego de un problema de salud, trata de volver a su vida. Junto con su amigo el inspector comienzan a sospechar que lo que parece un accidente ha sido un homicidio. Y aparecen todos los fantasmas anteriores, la política, la corrupción y la omnipresencia de la iglesia en la Irlanda de los 50. Pheobe tambien comienza a recomponer su vida ( )
  gneoflavio | Mar 25, 2023 |
One of the best Quirke stories. ( )
  Doondeck | May 5, 2021 |
On the Track of Evil in Dublin
Peter Brooks
NYRB
July 14, 2016 Issue

“Death,” writes Walter Benjamin, “is the sanction of everything the storyteller has to tell.” And also: the storyteller “borrows his authority from death”; the endstop of death creates the meaning of a life recounted. The classic detective story shares this belief. It starts from a dead body. As the story moves forward in the inquest, it reaches back to reconstruct the events that lead up to that death: the narrative exists only to unearth and make present that past story, the story of the crime.

I sense that the Irish novelist John Banville’s turn to detective fiction in the persona of Benjamin Black, whom he calls “Banville’s dark brother,” has to do with this obsession with death as the “authority” of the tale. He has cleverly chosen as his protagonist Dr. Quirke, a pathologist who spends his life under the fluorescent lights of a basement dissecting room with cadavers, seeking to know the secret stories of the ends of their lives. Quirke might have been a surgeon, except that the living seemed to him more uncanny than the dead:

It sometimes seemed to him that he favored dead bodies over living ones. Yes, he harbored a sort of admiration for cadavers, these wax-skinned, soft, suddenly ceased machines. They were perfected, in their way….

That noirish line is from Christine Falls, Banville’s first novel as Benjamin Black. There now are seven that feature Quirke, and by the latest, Even the Dead, they make a series with a complex intertwining of places, obsessions, memories, and characters, many of whom return frequently: something like Raymond Chandler played through a Proustian woodwind, in stories that take us “back along the dark and tortuous route by which that cadaver had arrived in this place, under this pitiless light.” We can now look at the books as an ensemble that does something remarkable within the detective genre.

Black is particularly good at creating the meanders of what Roland Barthes called the “dilatory space” in the middle of any story that must tease out the clues and delay the ending. Things don’t move forward with the brisk dispatch of Sherlock Holmes; we wander through Dublin and its environs, stopping long in pubs and hotel dining rooms, drifting back into the past, all the while encountering a range of vivid minor figures sketched in high style, a spectrum of Dublin society from the gentry to the bar pulls.

The comparison to Raymond Chandler comes inevitably to mind since Black a few years ago in The Black-Eyed Blonde wrote a “new” Philip Marlowe novel, in homage to the master—possibly something he was put up to by a publisher, with results that seem to me smart but a bit tepid. The hard edge of Marlowe’s Los Angeles and the smoky incertitude of Dublin are different: Black’s is a world of smudges, not edges. It’s a world dominated not so much by money-lust, or even sexual lust, as by the rich effluvium of centuries of domination by the church and a state in its thrall, subservience to the English and to local Protestants, and an accommodation of concealed wrongdoing and diplomatic lie.

Banville has said that the detective story attracts him as a way to tell stories, which he claims haven’t really interested him in his “serious” fiction, and to create characters. The brilliant, eloquent, oblique, Beckettian and Henry Jamesian Banville appears to find new inspiration in the conventions of the genre. Convention can of course be liberating: when you force yourself to follow the rules of a sonnet, the very constraint can become a rich means of expression.

Still, Benjamin Black is hyperconscious of the conventions he has chosen to play with. Quirke, the brilliant amateur investigator who is something of a klutz with living persons, has as his sidekick Police Inspector Hackett, the seeming rustic who is in fact sharp as a tack. When we get to the fifth novel, Vengeance, there is a playful acknowledgment of the reverse mirroring of the Sherlock Holmes model when Hackett proposes: “I’ll introduce you as Dr. Watson.” You can exploit the known conventions as a shorthand, and then move forward with the exploration of a seriously shadowed world.

We are in these novels in Dublin of the 1950s, a time that Black chooses because he finds it “paranoid, guilt-ridden, beset by fear and loathing, and still shuddering in the after-effects of the war.” This Dublin is cold (or occasionally sweaty hot), foggy, smelling of coal fumes and manure (there are still horse-drawn drays), whiskey, and smoke (the consumption of cigarettes is epic). It’s Dublin before any economic miracles, a society dedicated to hypocrisy and manipulated by “fixers” like the hideous Joseph Costigan, a malevolent figure who pops up with diabolical regularity.

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Black’s Ireland is a place of “secrets and lies,” as the American Rose Crawford puts it. It is dominated by the “whited sepulchers” of church and state: corrupt judges, venal ministers (of health, especially), corrupt heroes like Conor Latimer, who stood with Connolly and Pearse in the General Post Office during the 1916 Easter Uprising, but went on to molest first his son and then his daughter. And worst of all, a church hierarchy that thrives on lies, deception, and the capacity to impose silence on those who want to expose its machinations.

Quirke, the figure who holds the stories all together, is all the more a notable character because of the blank of his origins, a past that he would wish to forget and a hidden parentage that he will come to acknowledge openly only in the latest novel, Even the Dead. An apparent orphan, he has been brought up under the harsh discipline of Carricklea Industrial School, an experience that continues to exert traumatic force throughout his existence. Like Oedipus, that early detective undermined by a lack of knowledge of who his parents are, when he discovers the secret it is so close to home that he should have guessed. It was repressed knowledge, somehow of a piece with the drunken stupors he often lets himself lapse into (in parody of the drunken Irishman). No wonder Even the Dead will introduce the figure of Dr. Evelyn Blake, a psychotherapist with only a fragile hope of successful therapy. Quirke’s combination of delicate surgical touch with clumsiness in human relations makes him both a worthy and a somewhat unexpected addition to those humanly frail but courageous figures who people the detective tradition.

Black’s noir is often grim indeed: torture and rape, pornography, drugs, blackmail, spousal murder, suicide disguised as homicide, a botched abortion that leaves a young woman bleeding to death. But more important than these familiar acts of violence is a deeper, more horrifying endemic violence to which Quirke is sensitive because of his years at the Carricklea orphanage: abuse of children, especially sexual abuse of both girls and boys. This is what goes on at the institutions of claimed benevolence, St. Christopher’s school, St. Mary’s, and the Mother of Mercy Laundry, and it is truly horrifying. Behind them all stands a sinister group called the Knights of Saint Patrick that seems to have agents everywhere. They lock up unwed mothers, transport their babies for adoption in Boston, and turn orphanages into brothels for their members. What lies within the cloisters guarded by the likes of Sister Anselm and Sister Stephanus, Father Dangerfield and Father Honan, is Gothic, sordid, and sad. The noir genre allows Black to populate a world of the truly if entertainingly vicious.

Yet among the cast of evildoers, and the indifferent who let them get away with it, or the merely sad and downtrodden, there are the figures of relative righteousness, including Quirke the antihero and the determined police inspector Hackett. And then the women, who are of particular importance in Black’s fiction, illuminating a dark world even when guilty of rash villainy, such as Françoise d’Aubigny, who shot her husband’s head off—but he was trying to seduce their daughter—and Mona Delahaye, who caused mayhem by having an affair with her husband’s business partner’s son. They are all gorgeous, of course, and all find it expedient to go to bed with Quirke, who is irresistible to women. That’s a given, part of the convention. He is big, well dressed, and in Mona’s words “all muscle and fur,” though that doesn’t quite seem to fit with his decidedly unhealthy way of life.

Beyond Black’s femmes fatales there is the more interesting figure of Phoebe Griffin, raised as Quirke’s niece because after his wife Delia’s death in childbirth he could not cope and gave his baby daughter away to his half-brother Malachy and sister-in-law Sarah (the real love of Quirke’s life, though he instead married her sister Delia). We first see Phoebe attracted to Quirke sexually. When she discovers he is her father the result is estrangement, and a difficult entrance into her young adulthood. Phoebe raises the stakes of the whole series, becoming more interesting from novel to novel, a subtle and engaging character who transforms the sordid doings that surround her.

If Quirke is a dunce at social relations and prefers to deal with the dead, Phoebe is sensitive to the interactions of the living. Her circle of friends, almost a salon at one point, includes the actress Isabel Galloway, the reporter Jimmy Minor, and the Nigerian medical student Patrick Ojukwu. She takes in young women who emerge from the Dublin fog: Jimmy’s sister Sally Minor, come to investigate her brother’s disappearance, and one calling herself “Lisa Smith,” who will turn out to be Elizabeth Costigan, sweet daughter of a loathsome father. Phoebe’s relations with men all appear to be unsatisfactory, marked by violence or else indifference. The one moment of real passion in her life seems to come when she and Sally Minor, without quite meaning to, kiss long and hard. There is no sequel to that (not yet, at least), but Phoebe remains an elusive and surprising character.

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The novel in which Phoebe emerges into prominence is about another friend, whom we never will meet. “It was the worst of winter weather, and April Latimer was missing,” Elegy for April begins.

For days a February fog had been down and showed no sign of lifting. In the muffled silence the city seemed bewildered, like a man whose sight has suddenly failed. People vague as invalids groped their way through the murk….

Echoes of Baudelaire’s “fourmillante cité/Cité pleine de rêves/Où le spectre en plein jour raccroche le passant.…”

Elegy for April is my favorite among the Benjamin Black novels, in some large measure because of Phoebe’s transforming sensibility. It’s a novel about obsession. Her erotic obsession with the Nigerian student Patrick is replayed in a more excruciating register by April—when we learn of her story—and her brother Oscar Latimer. Phoebe will recall toward the climax April’s veiled confession by the pond in St. Stephen’s Green:

“The thing about obsession,” she said, still watching the spangled surface of the pond, “is that there’s no pleasure in it. You think at the start, if there is a start, that it’s the greatest delight you could know”—that word, delight, the way that she said it, had struck Phoebe as disturbing, almost indecent—“but after a while, when you’re caught in it and can’t get out, it’s a prison cell.”

The very word, obsession, becomes the clue (“Language is never innocent,” Dr. Blake will tell Phoebe in Even the Dead) that leads finally to Oscar Latimer’s truly mad confession of long-standing incest with April, and his account of arriving too late to prevent her bleeding to death from a self-administered abortion—or has he in fact sequestered her somewhere in England? Phoebe can never be sure. Oscar drives Quirke’s brand-new Alvis Super Graber Coupe off the cliff at Howth Head to complete his manic rant.

The scene is stylish, like the Alvis itself, over-the-top with a kind of perfect gravity of tone. That Alvis, which Quirke buys despite having no driver’s license and no insurance, itself becomes a participant in the drama even before its apocalyptic finale. Quirke finds that the Alvis looks at him

with a baleful and accusatory aspect. There was something about the set of the headlamps, their cold, alert, unblinking stare, that unnerved him and made him feel defensive.

This kind of primitive animism suggests a world, that of all good detective fiction, where everything is potentially a clue, where everything speaks of something else. Black is fully aware that Freud was a reader of Sherlock Holmes.

Confession is a central event in this and the other Black novels. It’s one of the satisfying things about detective stories in general: to have the criminal speak his crime at the end reassures the virtuous, and purges the poisoned social atmosphere. As in real life, confession makes things easier for those who sit in judgment. But confessions in Black’s novels are not so much a product of police interrogation as, seemingly, a speech act inevitably generated in a culture where sin and confession are the staff of life. At the end of Holy Orders, after Father Honan, inveterate child molester, takes his seat “in the gloom of the confessional,” Sally Minor, whose brother has been murdered instead of the priest, himself untouchable, shoots him dead. “It was a terrible noise. It seemed the confessional had exploded around her….” A very satisfying explosion that turns confessant against confessor to denounce, once again, the whited sepulchers.

The confessions furthermore aren’t conclusive. At the end of Elegy for April, we are still unsure of April’s fate. In other novels, it’s unclear that the guilty will ever face charges on the crimes Quirke and Hackett have brought to light. More alarming still is the fact that exposure of the crimes of the rich and powerful in church and state are always covered over, beginning with the child-smuggling scheme sponsored by the powerful Judge Griffin and the Boston millionaire Josh Crawford in Christine Falls, on to the discoveries of Phoebe and Quirke at the end of Holy Orders.

Phoebe asks how the shooting of Father Honan has been kept from the newspapers, to which Quirke replies: “Holy orders, from on high. The Archbishop’s Palace telephoned the newspapers, told them the Church was treating Honan’s death as an internal matter and said no report of it was to be printed yet, until they’d completed their inquiry.“ When Phoebe queries: “Can they do that? Can the Church do that?” Quirke from long experience replies: “They can.”

The culture of church-inflected confession leads in Even the Dead to the matter of secular confession in psychotherapy with the appearance of Dr. Evelyn Blake. Phoebe is her secretary and receptionist,

an assistant outside the confessional, monitoring the penitents as they silently waited their turn to slink into the shadowed chamber and tell their shameful sins.

In a novel where Quirke “discovers” the parenthood he’s always known but never acknowledged, Dr. Blake’s presence underwrites his reflections on the inescapabilty of the past. “Nothing ever gets lost, he thought, it’s all in there, somewhere, ready to spring out at the least hint of an invitation.” As he says to Evelyn Blake, now his lover (will that last?): “Strange, isn’t it, how you can know something and not know it at the same time?” To which she, a Jew who saw most of her family perish in the Holocaust, replies: “Not so strange…. Many people are capable of it—whole nations are.” Quirke comes to understand that what drives him in the investigation of crime is no great thirst for justice, but his very absence of a past, the blank of his early years, the aloneness that makes him want to follow the trail of another lost creature.

In this novel things come full circle from the first book of the series in Quirke’s acknowledgment of the great and greatly corrupt Judge Griffin as the father who put him away at Carricklea, only later to rescue him and bring him up as an “adopted” son, and, as his mother, the tortured and murdered Dolly Moran, once housemaid to the Griffins. Full circle also in the undoing of the archvillain Joe Costigan. When Quirke discovers that Costigan has killed Leon Corless, who as an employee of the Health Ministry has become a bit too interested in births and what has now become a profitable baby-selling scheme, Quirke passes that information on to Leon’s father Joe, a lefty who once fought in Spain with the Connolly Column. He knows that Joe Corless knows how to kill a man, and we have the satisfaction of finding Costigan’s body in Phoenix Park, his neck broken, in the same spot he killed Leon. Hackett now decides: “I’d say, Dr. Quirke, this’ll be one of those unsolved ones.” The ending then comes as a kind of homage to the final moments of Casablanca, as Inspector Hackett and Quirke stroll away from the scene of the not-to-be-solved crime.

Much of John Banville’s fiction is dark, too, and his superb fictional recreation of the Cambridge spy Anthony Blunt in The Untouchable already takes us deep into the world of the thriller, though its main focus is on the mind of the double agent. But the Benjamin Black genre seems to have liberated him to create characters struggling, in the fog, with issues of good and evil—an idea so flatfooted you almost have to use conventional arts to inject energy into it. “The world is a dark place, and I find it endlessly funny,” he said in a Paris Review interview. Not so much funny, I would say, as fun: a place to try out your (limited) powers of detection, to stumble toward a solution, to try to connect to others. If plot and character appear largely absent from Banville’s fiction, the detective genre needs them, insists on them. In Black’s novels, they are richly imagined by someone who wants to be entertained by a dark place, and maybe even to find some illumination in it.
----------------------
Quirke and the Mother of Mercy Laundry
By Edward T. Wheeler
Commonweal
April 23, 2016

Benjamin Black, the noir disguise of Booker Prize winner John Banville, has returned us to 1950s Dublin and to its genteel but menacing mean streets. Even The Dead is the eighth in the series of detective fictions which follows the life of the functioning alcoholic and pathologist Dr. Quirke. A peculiar family history and the established powers of the church and government burden Quirke. Of course, family and church and politics are in league; the revelations of that alliance challenge the doctor and in some cases imperil him through his many professional years.

Black/Banville has layered remarkable complexity in developing Quirke’s character over these eight books. It would be a long paragraph to summarize them here, but the complications are as much a part of recreation of an Ireland of sixty years ago as the murders and violence that Quirke and his ally Inspector Hackett confront.

Quirke is burdened by a past: he was raised in a brutal orphanage, “adopted” by a powerful judge, well educated in Ireland, and as a doctor in Boston. His melancholy and self-doubt ground his alcoholism, just as the death of his beloved wife leads to his profound sense of loss. Not quite a Byronic figure, but certainly a man who would appreciate the notion that he is an ironic approximation of one. Quirke’s every pleasure is won from guilt and every self-assertion a claim for respect from an authority that will mock him. His compassion is his hair shirt. It is to strong women that he turns to face himself in their eyes.

Yes, I am seduced by Quirke’s plight (and by virtually everything that Banville has ever written) but I would like to point out another appeal of these novels: their characterization, deft and “aslant.” This is Quirke’s observation of a nun who runs The Mother of Mercy Laundry (of the sort made infamous in the film The Maudlin Sisters):

“Sister Dominic again touched the pencil and the blotter, lightly, with the tips of her unquiet fingers. How they must torment her, those fingers, Quirke thought; she has spent her life shedding all signs of inner conflict and agitation, yet here, at the very extremities of her hands, she still betrayed herself.”

This is the one occasion we meet Sister Dominic, but her impact is acutely revealed. What she supports is a form of manipulation which compromises itself even as it shows its nervous dexterity.

Take this one other incident, the description of a house maid, Maise, once an inmate of the same laundry. She is being asked by her “betters” to return to the laundry to make discreet inquiries about a missing young woman.

“It was as if she was in a room with a glass ceiling, above her the others – Dr. Griffin and Mrs. Griffin, and Dr. Quirke . . . - carried on their incomprehensible business, plain to be seen and yet shut off from her. There was a book she’d read once, in school or somewhere, that had pictures in it of Chinese people, or maybe they were Japanese, emperors and their wives and children, the men with wispy mustaches reaching nearly to the ground and the women with things that looked like knitting needles stuck in their hair. . . They wouldn’t have been much stranger, those Chinese or Japanese or whatever they were, than this crowd [who addressed her], talking in code and eyeing each other suspiciously all the time. God knows, she thought, what they’re up to now. All the same, she had better help them, or say that she’d try anyway. You’d never know what might be in it for her if she did, or what they might do to her if she didn’t.”

As an exploration of character (again one who appears perhaps three times in the work) this offers a clear sense of class difference, a glimpse at Maisie’s education, and her canny sense of power – its good and ill effects – and her need to respond.

Even The Dead offers these observations throughout and Black/Banville tells a very good, much involuted story. The pleasures of the narrative, the parade of eccentric characters, and the human dilemmas the plot exposes give us fiction of a high order. Banville’s writing tells, and it’s a great pleasure to listen.
------------------------------

“At the heart of Even the Dead is an insidious plot....Black, the pen name of Booker Award–winning novelist John Banville, never worries about letting the plot dangle, breathing lovely, rich emotion through these pages with his unhurried, reflective prose....You linger over his descriptions.”—Chicago Tribune

“There are now seven [novels] that feature Quirke, and by the latest, Even the Dead, they make a series with a complex intertwining of places, obsessions, memories, and characters, many of whom return frequently....We can now look at the books as an ensemble that does something remarkable within the detective genre.”—The New York Review of Books

“Black fashions a meticulously written installment notable for its palpable sense of place, a slate of fully drawn characters, and a meaningful denouement....The investigation’s tense, yet largely nonviolent, resolutions carry great resonance for Quirke.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“EW’s books editor Tina Jordan is a major fan of Benjamin Black’s (author John Banville’s pen name) Quirke series—and his seventh, Even the Dead, is as great as ever. If you haven’t yet met Quirke, an alcoholic pathologist, prepare to binge read the first six books in a fever so you can get to this one.”—Entertainment Weekly (11 Books You Have to Read in January)

“With its flowing prose, penetrating observation and deft evocation of time and place, Even the Dead is an unalloyed pleasure from start to finish....Banville/Black's masterly evocation of [Dublin], with its smoke-shrouded and boozy pubs, the decrepit, uncared-for buildings, the unruly traffic and the often depressed mien of the average Dubliner, is scarily accurate.”—The Independent (London)
-----------------------
24 January 2016
Talking about Quirke with Benjamin Black
Benjamin Black is the pen name of Irish author John Banville. He is the author of seven novels in the acclaimed Quirke series. He agreed to be interviewed for Shots.

What made you decide to write the Quirke series and where did the character of Quirke come from? What made you decide to make him a pathologist?

BB: Many years ago I was commissioned to write a television mini-series set in 1950s Dublin. I did three one-hour episodes but, as with so many of these projects, they never got made. Then I began to read Georges Simenon, was greatly impressed, and had the idea of turning the screen series into a novel: the result was Christine Falls, the first Quirke book. Why did I make him a pathologist? I don’t really know. But I know I didn’t want to write about a detective.

Your latest Quirke novel is Even The Dead. How did the storyline come about?

BB: I start with a very vague notion of a plot and just begin to write. Often I have no idea where I shall end up--with Vengeance, for instance, I was almost at the end before I decided who the killer was. As Raymond Chandler said, it doesn't matter a damn what a book is about, all that counts is how it is written. He also said he didn't care who killed Professor Plumb with a lead pipe in the library, and I agree with that, too.

There is very much an elegiac tone to Even The Dead. Loose ends are being tied up. Is this the end of Quirke?

BB: Not at all. It's true that every time I finish a BB book I think I won't do another one, but the characters are too interesting for me to let them go, and always I'm drawn back to them. In Even the Dead the most significant happening is Quirke's falling in love at last--and with a psychiatrist, at that. I hope he will be happy. We'll see.

How much does religion specifically Catholicism play a part in your writing?

BB: Well, I was brought up as a Catholic, which meant I was brainwashed from an early age. When I came to realise the pernicious influence that religion wields in human lives I became extremely angry. Some of that anger remains, so of course I transferred it to Quirke.

How important is place, in this case Dublin in your novels?

BB: Extremely important. I think of Dublin, and specifically 1950s Dublin, as a central character in the Quirke books.

How would you explain Dublin to someone who has never been there?

BB: I'm not sure that one could 'explain' something so intricate and diverse as a city. What I loved about the Dublin of my youth was its peculiar mixture of gaiety and melancholy; it's this ambiguous aspect of the place that I have tried to capture in the Quirke novels.

What made you decide to set the Quirke novels in the 1950s?

BB: Since I was setting out to write noir fiction, 1950s Dublin seemed the ideal milieu: all
that repression, all that guilt, all those dark secrets deeply buried: perfect material. The Dublin of those days reeked of alcohol and cigarette smoke and sadness.

Raymond Chandler is my favourite crime writer and I very much enjoyed reading Black-Eyed Blonde. How much of an influence did Raymond Chandler have on your crime writing and are there any other crime writers that have influenced you?

BB: I read Chandler as a teenager and was greatly impressed to discover that crime fiction could be stylish. Before Chandler I had read mainly Agatha Christie, whose lumpen prose made me feel I was chewing on sawdust. Chandler by comparison was the epitome of elegance, wit and sophistication. Much later I discovered Simenon, a true genius. And of course the great Richard Stark, whose Parker novels are superb.

Which five noir novels would you say are your favourites and why?

BB: The Long Goodbye, Raymond Chandler. Not his best, perhaps, but certainly the darkest and most compelling.

Dirty Snow, Georges Simenon. This was the first Simenon I read, and I was utterly bowled over by it.

The Postman Always Rings Twice, James M. Cain. A compellingly nasty piece of work.

The Hunter, Richard Stark. The first of the Parker novels, and still one of the best. John Boorman made a wonderful movie from it, Point Blank.

How's the Pain? Pascal Garnier. Simenon's son, John Simenon, considers Garnier to be his father's literary heir, and he's right.

You have been writing fiction now for quite sometime both as Benjamin Black and also with your real name John Banville. How much has your writing changed and do you have a different way of writing the Quirke series as opposed to when you are writing as John Banville?

BB: Yes, they are two entirely different writers. Even their working methods are radically unalike--Banville writes with a fountain pen, Black types direct on to the screen. I always say that what you get from Banville is the result of deep concentration, while from Black you get pure spontaneity.

What do you think of the state of Irish crime writing at the moment? Including yourself there are a quite a number of excellent Irish writers that are writing really good books.

BB: I haven't read enough contemporary crime fiction to comment.

Crime fiction especially contemporary crime fiction is said to be very good at social history. Is there anything you won’t write about?

BB: Serial killers, rapists. Crime fiction, especially on television, exploits women dreadfully.

What one question would Benjamin Black like to ask John Banville and vice versa?

BB: Do you like being Benjamin Black? Why? I tolerate him. He keeps me busy.

There was a BBC series made of Quirke featuring Gabriel Byrne. Are we likely to see anymore?

BB: Well, I certainly hope so, but at present there is nothing in production.

What are you working on at the moment

BB: A crime mystery set in Prague in the late 1500s.
  meadcl | Jun 26, 2020 |
One must always remind oneself that the books are set in the 1950s. Plus, for this one, it helps to know the others, because there are some privat things in Quirke´s life going on.
The case: One night a car crashes into a tree in central Dublin and bursts into flames. Quirke's examination of the body leads him to believe that it was murder. Quirke´s daughter Phoebe gets a mysterious visit, a young woman, who has been in this car crash and says she fears for her life. Phoebe helps this young woman, but she disappears.
Quirke and Hackett discover one of the city's most powerful men who uses the cover of politics and religion to make obscene profits.
The book is very well written, but not exciting enough. ( )
  Wassilissa | Sep 18, 2018 |
Incapaz de guardar reposo pese a sus alucinaciones y desvanecimientos, Quirke regresa al trabajo en la morgue de Dublín. Es a él a quien llaman cuando aparece un cuerpo en el interior de un coche calcinado: todo apunta al suicidio de un funcionario advenedizo, pero Quirke no puede quitarse de la cabeza la sospecha de que algo no encaja. La única testigo se ha esfumado, han borrado todo rastro de ella.

Al reunir las piezas de su desaparición, el patólogo se ve atraído hacia las sombras del universo de las élites dublinesas: sociedades secretas y política eclesiástica de altos vuelos, políticos corruptos y hombres con mucho dinero que perder. Mientras la psicoanalista austriaca Evelyn Blake entra en su vida y en su corazón, la pista acaba por llevar a Quirke hacia su propia familia, y pasado y presente entran en colisión. Los crímenes de antaño han de permanecer ocultos, y Quirke ha agitado la telaraña.
  bibliotecayamaguchi | Mar 3, 2017 |
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Quirke (7)
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One glorious morning in the middle of June it occurred to David Sinclair that he was in the wrong profession.
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"Perhaps Quirke has been down among the dead too long. Lately the Irish pathologist has suffered hallucinations and blackouts, and he fears the cause is a brain tumor. A specialist diagnoses an old head injury caused by a savage beating; all that's needed, the doctor declares, is an extended rest. But Quirke, ever intent on finding his place among the living, is not about to retire. One night during a June heat wave, a car crashes into a tree in central Dublin and bursts into flames. The police assume the driver's death was either an accident or a suicide, but Quirke's examination of the body leads him to believe otherwise. Then his daughter Phoebe gets a mysterious visit from an acquaintance: the woman, who admits to being pregnant, says she fears for her life, though she won't say why. When the woman later disappears, Phoebe asks her father for help, and Quirke in turn seeks the assistance of his old friend Inspector Hackett. Before long the two men find themselves untangling a twisted string of events that takes them deep into a shadowy world where one of the city's most powerful men uses the cover of politics and religion to make obscene profits. In this enthralling book--his seventh novel featuring the endlessly fascinating Quirke--Benjamin Black has crafted a story of surpassing intensity and surprising beauty"--Publisher.

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