Snow
by Banville, John






Investigating the murder of a County Wexford priest in 1957, Detective Inspector St. John Strafford navigates harsh winter weather and the community's culture of silence to expose an aristocratic family's dangerous secrets.





*Starred Review* Booker Prize winner Banville has typically written crime fiction as Benjamin Black, but here he switches to his own name for a new mystery set in 1957 at the forbidding Ballyglass House, a country manor in Ireland's County Wexford. You know Banville is evoking the genre's Golden Age from the first words-The body is in the library-but, almost as quickly, you realize that this is not an Agatha Christie novel. Throughout, Banville decorates his deceptively complex mystery with literary flourishes (the books stood shoulder to shoulder in an attitude of mute resentment) and uses familiar classical-era tropes to camouflage the darkness lurking below the surface. Our narrator is Detective Inspector St. John Strafford, a protestant in a Catholic country, called upon to solve the murder of a Catholic priest stabbed and castrated at the home of a reclusive protestant family. The closets of the Osborne clan are stuffed with kinky secrets, evoking the Sternwoods from Raymond Chandler's The Big Sleep, especially sultry daughter Lettie, a would-be vixen in the manner of thumb-sucking Carmen Sternwood. Strafford initially sees the case as straightforward but, fighting obstruction from the Catholic hierarchy, soon finds himself in another country altogether, where everything swayed and wallowed, as the area is engulfed in a snowstorm, and the bodies accumulate. No order-restoring resolution here, in this brilliant mix of old tropes and sadly modern evil. Copyright 2020 Booklist Reviews.






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