April in Spain
by Banville, John

While on vacation off the Spanish coast, a Dublin pathologist catches a glimpse of a young woman he believes was murdered years ago and summons Detective St. John Strafford to investigate before someone can finish the job. 150,000 first printing.

*Starred Review* Banville returns to his series hero, Dublin pathologist Quirke, in this moody thriller set in the Basque village of Donostia, where the morose but sublimely sardonic Quirke is vacationing (an alien concept for him) with his newish wife, Evelyn, a psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor. After stabbing himself with an oyster knife, Quirke is treated by a doctor who looks oddly familiar. Could she be April Latimer, who disappeared years earlier in the wake of a scandal and was presumed dead? (That story was told in Elegy for April, 2010, written, like all the other Quirke novels before this one, under the pseudonym Benjamin Black.) Quirke summons his daughter, Phoebe, hoping she can confirm if the doctor is really April; the Irish police are interested, too, and Phoebe is accompanied by St. John Strafford from Snow (2020), another character with a closet full of unresolved issues. As this plot develops under the springtime sun (Phoebe, who shares her father's gloom, sees spring as the season of unassuageable agitations), a parallel story unfolds featuring a troubled, Graham Greene-like hitman, Terry Tice, who is charged with dispatching April once and for all. This leisurely paced tale crackles with the kinetic energy of an approaching thunderstorm as Banville brilliantly contrasts the blue skies of Spain with the wine-dark seas roiling inside his characters' heads. Copyright 2021 Booklist Reviews.

A literary period piece featuring colorful characters and a mysterious crime. In postwar Ireland, "Terry Tice liked killing people," and he offs his gay friend Percy on a whim. Meanwhile, in Donostia in the Basque region of Spain, a semihappy couple named Quirke and Evelyn are visiting for an April holiday. He's an Irish pathologist-hero of earlier mysteries Banville published under the name Benjamin Black-and she's an Austrian psychiatrist who survived the Holocaust. Quirke is the perfect name for the husband, who "could never say the word 'love' without flinching." And he "made love deftly, in an exploratory sort of way, like a doctor searching for the source of an obscure malady." Evelyn loves to tease him: "You love to be miserable," she says. "It's your version of being happy." Meanwhile, a young woman named April Latimer is dead, murdered by her brother, but her body has never been found. April is the catalyst who eventually brings the storylines together-but well before that, readers will savor the author's imagery and playful language. After doing in his pal, Terry finds Percy's photos of nude "fellows with enormous how's-your-fathers." In a restaurant, Quirke and Evelyn's "waiter looked like a superannuated toreador." Earlier, the odors in a fish stall made Quirke think of sex. They buy oysters, an innocent act that lands Quirke in the hospital, where Doctor Angela Lawless haunts his thoughts but he doesn't know why. Meanwhile, Doctor Cruz demands to know why the couple is really in Spain. Are they poking into the April Latimer business? The bulk of the story focuses on the two vacationers, but Tice may have the last word on whether they can ever return to the Emerald Isle. The plot is good, but the prose-ah, the prose: A woman watches fat raindrops fall, and she "imagined them to be tiny ballerinas making super-quick curtseys and then dropping through little trapdoors hidden in the stage." And who can't smile at a woman's observation that a fellow may be "inclined to the leeward side of Cape Perineum"? Great fun from a masterful writer. Copyright Kirkus 2021 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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