Snow

John Banville

Book - 2020

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.

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MYSTERY/Banville, John
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Subjects
Genres
Mystery fiction
Historical fiction
Detective and mystery fiction
Published
Toronto, Ontario, Canada : Hanover Square Press [2020]
Language
English
Physical Description
299 pages ; 24 cm
ISBN
9781335230003
1335230009
Main Author
John Banville (author)
Review by Booklist Reviews

*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.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

The first mystery Banville has written under his own name, rather than as Benjamin Black, Snow stars a crusty Protestant detective investigating a murder in County Wexford, buried in endless Snow. In Carlyle's debut, The Girl in the Mirror, jealous Iris takes over the identity—and the handsome husband—of golden-girl twin sister Summer, who mysteriously disappears from a yacht in the middle of the Indian Ocean (100,000-copy first printing). In House of Correction, French's new stand-alone, back-in-town Tabitha is arrested for murder when a dead body is found in her shed, and given her pill-popping history of depression and faded recollections of the day, she starts wondering if she really is guilty (50,000-copy paperback and 30,000-copy hardcover first printing). In Jewell's Invisible Girl, virginal 30-year-old geography teacher Owen Pick is suspended from his job for sexual misconduct he denies, ends up on a shady online involuntary celibate forum, and eventually is a suspect in a teenager's disappearance (250,000-copy first printing). Molloy follows up her New York Times best-selling The Perfect Mother with Goodnight Beautiful, about newlyweds Sam Statler and Annie Potter, who have moved to his quiet upstate New York hometown as he pursues his career as a therapist, though, dangerously, his sessions are heard by neighbors through a ceiling vent (100,000-copy first printing). A Los Angeles Times Book Prize winner and finalist for multitudinous awards, Neville collects short crime, horror, and speculative fiction (some new to print) in The Traveller and Other Stories, a cogent example of Northern Irish noir. With Death and the Maiden, Norman wraps up mother Ariana Franklin's 1100s England-set series about Adelia Aguilar, Mistress of the Art of Death, with an original story about Adelia's daughter, Allie, investigating when several girls go missing from a village she is visiting (40,000-copy first printing). The protean Oates offers four masterly, never-before-published novellas, exemplified by the titular story in Cardiff by the Sea, whose protagonist rediscovers past tragedy when she inherits a house in Maine from someone she doesn't know. In Patterson/Serafin's Three Women Disappear, a mob accountant who is the nephew of the don of central Florida is fatally stabbed in his own kitchen, and which of three women—his wife, his maid, or his personal chef—might be responsible (500,000-copy first printing)? Rankin's A Song for Dark Times witnesses the returns of Inspector Rebus (50,000-copy first printing). In The Devil and the Dark Water, Turton's follow-up to the top LibraryReads pick, The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, famed detective Samuel Pipps is sailing back to Amsterdam in chains when terrifying events assault the crew, Pipps's sidekick vanishes, and Pipps himself is asked to puzzle out what's happening. Copyright 2020 Library Journal.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Affecting prose and depth of characterization largely compensate for the predictable plot of this whodunit set in 1957 Ireland from Booker Prize winner Banville (The Secret Guests). One snowy day, Det. Insp. St. John Strafford arrives at the house of Colonel Osborne in County Wexford to investigate the murder of an overnight guest, Fr. Tom Lawless. That morning, the colonel's wife found Lawless on the library floor; he'd been stabbed in the neck and castrated. Strafford is dismayed to see how neatly the body is laid out with its hands clasped, and the colonel admits that he and at least one other member of his household did some tidying up. Strafford is later struck that, despite statements of affection for the Catholic priest, "No one was crying." Pressure from the archbishop of Dublin leads the death to be reported publicly as an accident. Strafford's inquiry follows standard lines, and the various reveals won't surprise genre fans. This is not one of Banville's best. Agent: Andrew Wylie, Wylie Agency. (Oct.) Copyright 2020 Publishers Weekly.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

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.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

Investigating the murder of a 1957 County Wexford priest, Detective Inspector St. John Strafford navigates harsh winter weather and the community’s culture of silence to expose an aristocratic family’s dangerous secrets. By the award-winning author of The Seas.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

*NATIONAL BESTSELLER**SHORTLISTED FOR THE CWA HISTORICAL DAGGER AWARD*A Globe and Mail Best Book of the YearA New York Times Editors’ Choice Pick“Banville sets up and then deftly demolishes the Agatha Christie format…superbly rich and sophisticated.”—New York Times Book Review The incomparable Booker Prize winner’s next great crime novel—the story of a family whose secrets resurface when a parish priest is found murdered in their ancestral homeDetective Inspector St. John Strafford has been summoned to County Wexford to investigate a murder. A parish priest has been found dead in Ballyglass House, the family seat of the aristocratic, secretive Osborne family.The year is 1957 and the Catholic Church rules Ireland with an iron fist. Strafford—flinty, visibly Protestant and determined to identify the murderer—faces obstruction at every turn, from the heavily accumulating snow to the culture of silence in the tight-knit community he begins to investigate.As he delves further, he learns the Osbornes are not at all what they seem. And when his own deputy goes missing, Strafford must work to unravel the ever-expanding mystery before the community’s secrets, like the snowfall itself, threaten to obliterate everything.Beautifully crafted, darkly evocative and pulsing with suspense, Snow is “the Irish master” (New Yorker) John Banville at his page-turning best.Don't miss John Banville's next novel, April in Spain!

Review by Publisher Summary 4

LOOK FOR BANVILLE'S NEXT GREAT CRIME NOVEL, "APRIL IN SPAIN," COMING FALL 2021*NATIONAL BESTSELLER**SHORTLISTED FOR THE CWA HISTORICAL DAGGER AWARD*A Globe and Mail Best Book of the YearA New York Times Editors' Choice Pick'Banville sets up and then deftly demolishes the Agatha Christie format'superbly rich and sophisticated.''New York Times Book Review The incomparable Booker Prize winner's next great crime novel'the story of a family whose secrets resurface when a parish priest is found murdered in their ancestral homeDetective Inspector St. John Strafford has been summoned to County Wexford to investigate a murder. A parish priest has been found dead in Ballyglass House, the family seat of the aristocratic, secretive Osborne family.The year is 1957 and the Catholic Church rules Ireland with an iron fist. Strafford'flinty, visibly Protestant and determined to identify the murderer'faces obstruction at every turn, from the heavily accumulating snow to the culture of silence in the tight-knit community he begins to investigate.As he delves further, he learns the Osbornes are not at all what they seem. And when his own deputy goes missing, Strafford must work to unravel the ever-expanding mystery before the community's secrets, like the snowfall itself, threaten to obliterate everything.Beautifully crafted, darkly evocative and pulsing with suspense, Snow is 'the Irish master' (New Yorker) John Banville at his page-turning best.Don't miss John Banville's next novel, April in Spain!