She was glad it was the evening mailboat she was taking, for she did not think she could have faced a morning departure.
Supposedly this is the first book in a series of crime novels by John Banville, writing as Benjamin Black, but to be honest there really isn’t that much crime in it. A few people being beaten up, some documents being faked, but it is a long way from the murder-thriller that readers may be expecting.
Christine Falls is set in 1950’s Ireland, so right away you know to expect the Catholic Church to be the “ebil authority” for our protagonist(pathologist Quirke) to rail against. And we even have the nun-run “laundries” for unmarried mothers and the whisking away of babies to the United States of America.
To be honest I found this to be nothing more than an average read. And at times a clumsy one, with Quirke blurting out the fact that he is an orphan himself, beaten in the industrial school before he was rescued by the Judge.
I was never gripped by it, so it isn’t a page-turner. And neither is it a wonderfully written book. So you can’t just appreciate the words. It may, I suppose, be character-driven, but I didn’t really like any of the characters. Quirke, the hero for lack of a better word, is a hard-drinking man who married the sister of the woman he loved. He spends a lot of time in a drunken haze, stumbling through life, but he really wasn’t engaging enough. Most of the characters are unpleasant, but never charismatic with it. No one is overly memorable. I’ve quite possibly forgotten some already. Andy Stafford may linger a little, but then again, maybe not. It is a solid read, nothing more, but then again, nothing less.