Title – Even the Dead
Author – Benjamin Black
Published – 28 January 2016
Genre – Crime fiction
Benjamin Black is the pen name of the novelist John Banville and ‘Even The Dead’ is the seventh in his ‘Quirke’ series. The location is Dublin and although I don’t think the date was ever confirmed the feeling is 1950s.
Quirke is a pathologist and when the book opens he’s on a break due to events which took place in a previous book but the suspicious death of a young man in a car fire brings Quirke back to work and into an investigation. At the same time his daughter is approached by a young woman, who she only vaguely recalls, in fear for her life.
The threads of the story draw together as Quirke joins forces with his old friend Inspector Hackett to get resolution for the young man’s father and to help Quirke’s daughter and her mysterious friend. As the investigations take place there’s quite a lot of time devoted to the some of the more peripheral characters and their relationships.
I think this is a book which doesn’t work without having read at least some of the preceding titles. I felt like I was walking in on a family get-together where everyone knows all the misdemeanours and history but I was left in the dark.
The setting is very atmospheric and feels authentic but the way the story acknowledges the prejudices of the time can feel quite uncomfortable. The investigation is quite slow-paced, which fits with the hot summer and the lethargy that induces in the characters but I was a little miffed that the explanation of the main crime came as something of an aside.
Many thanks to the publisher for the review copy.