Thursday, January 3, 2013


If the setting is Ireland and the author is Benjamin Black, the voice performer simply has to be John Keating who masterfully captures the accents, nuances, the very timbre of an Irish voice.  Few have forgotten his superb rendering of Black’s A Death In Summer and he brings the same skillful delivery to Vengeance.

The fifth novel in Black’s popular Quirke series is outstanding.   Consultant pathologist at the Hospital of the Holy Family Quirk is a fascinating character.    He drinks far too much, easily beds women when so inclined, isn’t much of a father but when Inspector Hackett has a case making him feel “like a monkey with a coconut and no stone to crack it on.” he turns to Quirke.  And the pathologist is easy to find - “perched at the bar in his usual spot....a glass of Jameson’s at his elbow.”

The case that so puzzles Hackett involves the death, an apparent suicide, of Victor Delahaye.  If suicide it was it was an odd way to go about it.  Delahaye, an accomplished sailor, takes Davy Clancy, the son of his business partner, out for a sail.  Davy dislikes water but believed he could not reject Delahaye’s invitation. After going out a fair way and engaging in very little conversation save for a story about how his father thought to teach him self-reliance, Delahaye pulls out a pistol and shoots himself.  Knowing absolutely nothing about boats Davy is left at sea in more ways than one.

Delahaye’s suicide is a conundrum for all as his garage business is doing well, he has recently married a young, beautiful woman, Mona, and is a well placed member of Dublin society.  When Delahaye’s partner and Davy’s father, Jack, is also found dead it becomes clear that something is very much amiss, but what?  It’s up to Hackett and Quirke to untangle the lies and deceit in which the Delahayes and Clancys have hidden themselves.

In addition to being a terrific whodunit Vengeance is gloriously atmospheric, rife with the sights and sounds of 1950s Dublin.  It’s another winner from Benjamin Black and John Keating.

- Gail Cooke

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