April in Spain by John Banville
|April in Spain by John Banville|
|Category: Crime (Historical)|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: It's book eight in the Quirke series and if anything they're getting better. A recommended read.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 368||Date: October 2021|
|Publisher: Faber & Faber|
|External links: Author's website|
Shortlisted for CWA Historical Dagger 2022
Terry Tice was a hitman, although he didn't think of himself in those terms. He saw what he did as a matter of making things tidy. I couldn't resist the thought that he was an extreme version of Marie Kondo. He enjoyed his job, something which occurred to him when he was in Burma with the army where he got the chance to kill a lot of the little yellow fellows and had a fine old time. He was spending a lot of time with Percy Antrobus - who couldn't understand why Terry didn't know the purpose of a swizzle stick - surely he wouldn't drink champagne with bubbles in the morning? It was after Percy's death that he saw the benefits of taking up a job in Spain.
Quirke is in Spain too, on holiday, with his wife, Evelyn, who's a psychiatrist - and a real treasure to Quirke. His wife was not a woman to let a blessing go uncounted, but she was considerate enough to count in silence. They're in Donostia, or San Sebastien as it's better known outside the immediate region. One night Quirke tried to open some oysters with the nail scissors and cut his hand so badly that he had to go to the local hospital and it was there that he encountered Dr Angela Lawless. He was certain that he knew her but it took him quite a while to place exactly why. His suspicions would bring his daughter and Detective Inspector Strafford to Donostia.
It's John Banville, who is now writing the Quirke series under his real name rather than his pseudonym, so the writing is exquisite:
...the trees on the far side of the street leaned down as if to catch what she was saying.
There's a real talent, too, for capturing the moment. Quirke and Evelyn invited Dr Angela Lawless and another doctor to have a meal with them in a restaurant. Banville captures the excruciating atmosphere perfectly - to the point where I was squirming. Brilliant!
The characters all come off the page well: Banville paints their pictures in remarkably few words but they stay in the mind long after you've finished reading. It's been a couple of days now since I finished the book but I'm still worried about what's going to happen next: the ending was stunning and caught me completely by surprise. I really didn't see it coming although I perhaps should have done. It was a real treat of a book and I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.
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