Held my attention, but was a very dreary and depressing plot. I did eagerly want to see what happened next. Consequently, I listened for hours at a time, and finished much more quickly than I do with most novels. Almost no likeable, sympathetic characters were presented. Even the main character, Quirke, has nothing about him that's particularly compelling for me to want to continue to read about him in a series. Writing style was overly descriptive making it too long ( but I had the unabridged version). I felt the book would have been better tightened: shortened by at least third. Also, I was able to predict the foreboding turn of events almost completely. However, I thoroughly enjoyed Timothy Dalton's deep, soothing voice and narrating talents. So, mostly for Dalton, as well as to find out the fate of certain characters, I'll return for his next two narrated books in this trilogy/ series.
I'd certainly read the book, although perhaps not listen to it, since it would take 10 hours.
The writing is beautiful start to finish. Black is able to craft multiple characters, deeply and in detail, and the Dublin setting is delightfully dark.
It's not a particularly chipper book, so I don't think there are many "favorite" moments.
It's provocative, surprising at times. But not extreme.
Timothy Dalton's narration is exquisite.
Deep mysterious characters with a thrilling narrator. Dalton has this vocal style down pat. I knew where the story was probably going, but the journey still made it a deep down ride through human muck. Quirke is a new excellent character, going to enjoy the other books.
Dalton's reading matches this book perfectly; a dull monotone with occasional melodramatic extra effort that succeeds only in sounding constipated, not dramatic. The book is plodding, with a minor wisp of a plot buried in mounds of meandering, pointless inner reflections of the stupid, stereotypic, unlikeable characters. The whole thing is both predictable and pointless.
It took me several determined attempts to get started listening to the book, and boy am I sorry I made the effort.
I adore really well-written fiction, mystery series, and historical fiction, and delight in finding well-narrated translations.
Not sure what made this book so unenjoyable for me. My guess is that it might have needed a lot more editing. Anyhow, after getting halfway through Part 1, I decided to skip the rest--which means I am not going to find out what happened to Christine Falls. :-(
The tone of the part I listened to (most of Part 1) I found to be a relentless downer, partly because of the depressed tone of the reader, which happened to match too closely to the depression of the main character telling the story. That might have come to be resolved if the characters became real enough to care about them and their relationships to each other, and the conspiracy/crime/mystery solving story didn't drag on without any sign it would come together.
Possibly this is going to become a good series and the main character. I just couldn't get through this first book, though.
Fortunately it was a $6.95 special.
Kept listening; thought it had to get better from a Booker-winning author...not a single sympathetic character, and they must have let the author down too, 'cause he punishes them relentlessly. Misogynistic. Couple of jarring racist asides. Implausible crucial plot points. Bafflingly bad.
The narrator is WONDERFUL. I had not looked to see who he was, but was blown away by the force and flow he gives to this novel. Then, I realized that this book was narrated by a famous actor, and understood.
The book itself is absorbing, evocative, grounded in the period. I enjoyed it very much. But I have to say that I found the plot slightly slipping away. The big revelation is not so big after all. One is poised for something more. And the minor characters become entirely lacking in the capacity to evoke empathy. Still, it is an excellent listen, and I would recommend.
While the story is very well written, I found that most of the time I was getting lost in the dark words and soulful language of the narrator/book and not the story. I found the main character too reflective and without a lot of sympathetic traits to be likeable, at least to me, He was pitiable but not so interesting that I would like to read anymore about him. So, while the story itself did stir some emotions within me, the slow pace and plodding realizations of the main character did nothing except make me want the story to be over and done with, much like my association with most of the characters, all of whom seemed gloomy and morose. Were the 1950's really like that or is this just an Irish thing? I was glad this story finally ended and a little surprised to see that this was book 1 in a series. I might pick up book 2 if I could download it for free at the library. That way, if it continues down the same dark, foreboding path I can shut it off, delete it from my player and not worry about a wasted credit.
In summary, read this if you enjoy doing penance, wearing a sackcloth and weeping in your beverage of choice, for all the sad, literary characters you can think of, otherwise you might want to steer clear of this one.
Good twists just not an enjoyable story linr very dull
Others may like this book, this is just not my personal style of reading
I'm not really a big fan of mysteries, but there are a few authors I'll read: Kate Wilhelm for the characters, Ellis Peters for the backgrounds, Tony Hillerman for the textures of Navajo life. Now I can add Benjamin Black to the list. Unsurprisingly (in his other identity of John Banville, he is a Booker Prize-winning literary novelist), Black writes fine novels that happen also to be mysteries.
Some level of mystery is an element of most literary novels. How will the protagonist resolve this problem? But Quirk, Black's hero in this series, is a pathologist, the man who does the post-mortem on patients and on his own sins, as he sees it. He is, in fact, no more a sinner than the rest of us, but being an Irish Catholic in the 1950's, he feels it more strongly. And it is his character that keeps us enthralled from book to book.
The mystery here is more than sufficiently complex, but it is used as a vehicle for a portrait of a world, of the power elite of a place and time that was no more or less corrupt than any other. Even the villains are human, and get to speak for themselves.
Actually, Timothy Dalton speaks for them, and there are few readers who are better than he. Don't think of him as James Bond, but as, say, the young king of France in The Lion in Winter, and you'll get an idea of just how fine an edge he brings to these books.