Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Holy Orders” as Want to Read:
Holy Orders
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Holy Orders (Quirke #6)

3.57 of 5 stars 3.57  ·  rating details  ·  634 ratings  ·  136 reviews

The latest Quirke case opens in Dublin at a moment when newspapers are censored, social conventions are strictly defined, and appalling crimes are hushed up. Why? Because in 1950s Ireland, the Catholic Church controls the lives of nearly everyone. But when Quirke’s daughter, Phoebe, loses her close
Paperback, 304 pages
Published May 27th 2014 by Picador (first published June 6th 2013)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Holy Orders, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Holy Orders

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,365)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Disappointed by Vengeance, Quirke #5, I nearly gave this a pass. And for suspense, for the crime noir this purports to be, it does not deliver. There's rich story to be mined in the corrupt priest angle and even more in the Tinkers/Travelers community, but these threads make guest appearances and are too tidily knotted up at the end.

So, why the high rating? Because of the gorgeous, brooding, evocative prose. Because the characters are the central focus of the story, not the mystery. I think Blac
Nancy Oakes
4.5 stars

Thanks to Librarything's early reviewers' program, I received a copy of this book from the publisher -- my many thanks to LT and Henry Holt.

In this sixth installment in the Quirke series, a trysting couple take a walk along the towpath by a canal, coming across a body wedged in between the canal wall and a barge. The Guards are sent for, and it isn't long until the body winds up in Quirke's morgue at Holy Family Hospital. Quirke doesn't see it until the next morning, and when he pulls b
First Sentence: At first they thought it was the body of a child.

A naked body, so badly beaten as to be almost unrecognizable, is found in the body of the canal, bringing out Inspector Hackett and ending up on a table in pathologist Quirke’s morgue. Surprisingly, Quirke knows the victim, reporter Jimmy Minor, to be a friend of his daughter, Phoebe. Phoebe feels she is being followed and learns it is the victim’s sister, Sally. Together, Phoebe and Sally ask for Quirke’s help in learning who kill
David Carr
Quirke does not change, ever. Nor do the demons he carries and evokes involuntarily throughout his work as a forensic pathologist in nineteen-fifties Dublin. The haunted man's fragile consciousness allows a form of nearly-lost love for his daughter and his actress companion, though he would prefer to be isolated from virtually everyone in his life. The murders he encounters are almost always in some way evocative of the tremors of Quirke's life; in this book, the victim is someone he and his dau ...more
HOLY ORDERS. (2013). Benjamin Black. ****.
This is the latest in Black’s crime novels featuring Dr. Quirke, a pathologist who works for the Irish Police force. He often – as he does in this novel – teams up with Inspector Hackett to ferret out the perpetrator. In this tale, a young man is found in one of Dublin’s canals. He is nude except for one sock, and has been horribly beaten; to the point that identification is difficult. Turns out that he was a reporter for one of the local papers. The imm
This is the 7th Quirke book by Benjamin Black aka John Banfield, a very literary writer, not one who would be expected to write crime novels. As one reviewer wrote, these books are read less as crime novels than as literature. Because Black aka Banfield is a wonderful writer with incisive prose, haunting settings, the ability to paint a picture of the bleak, almost desolate place that was Dublin in the 1950's.

Quirke is a pathologist who has made friends - of sort - with Inspector Hackett who so
Scott Parsons
The only Benjamin Black novel I had read before this was The Black-Eyed Blonde: A Philip Marlowe Novel which I enjoyed. I found this Quirke novel disappointing. The investigation of the murder of reporter Jimmy Minor, friend of Quirke's daughter Phoebe, proceeds at a snail's pace. Quirke himself, based on this novel, is not a particularly likeable character. He is haunted by his upbringing in orphanages and the long shadow of the Catholic church, its institutions and abuse of children by priests ...more
Young journalist Jimmy Minor is found beaten to death in Dublin and the pathologist, Dr. Quirke, realizes the dead man is a friend of his daughter Phoebe. As usual Dr. Quirke teams up with police Inspector Hackett to investigate the crime. Though ostensibly a murder mystery this book is more of a character study than a detective story. Quirke and Hackett discover that Jimmy was pursuing a story involving a Catholic priest and a community of Irish tinkers (gypsies). This leads the hard-drinking Q ...more
Mal Warwick
A Mystery to Savor for its Gorgeous Prose

How often have you started reading a book in which the first several pages were beautifully written, only to notice that the prose grew progressively plainer and less interesting as you proceeded? Perhaps you’ve never been aware of that, but I sure have. It’s a sign that the author struggled to produce lyrical and evocative language in the opening chapter that went to the agent or publisher with an outline for approval — but lapsed into pedestrian prose o
The Quirke series are just so good. I love this world Black has created of 1950s Ireland and all its mystery and intrigue. I love the characters he has created and with each book we know a bit more about them. In this book, it starts with the discovery of a body in a canal who turns out to be Phoebe's reporter friend Jimmy Minor. As usual, Quirke plays detective and learns a bit about the dark side of the church. These books are mysteries but I like Black's writing style. Lyrical, poetic, so eas ...more
Holy Orders by Benjamin Black (aka John Banville) 5/5

Holy Orders, subtitled "A Quirke Novel" is truly that. A Quirke novel. The mystery is very much secondary to the character development of our Quirke, the Dublin, 1950's based coroner of Black's novels. Alcoholic, his childhood staining his adulthood almost beyond his bearing, he stumbles his way through life attempting to find his way to a safe harbor. His background is far too convoluted to go into here as it's evolved over this and the previ
Richard Toscan
I'm a fan of John Banville's Dublin Noir crime novels featuring Quirke the pathologist/coroner. This is the latest one, as with its predecessors set in 1950s Ireland when the Catholic Church essentially ruled the country. The Church's misuse of its power in Ireland and Dublin in particular has always been a sub-theme of the Quirke novels, but now it has been brought to the surface and dominates the story (or so we discover at the end). Lest any readers think Banville (writing the Quirke novels a ...more
A dark mystery set in 1950's Ireland, Quirke is a pathologist with many psychological problems which seem to be exacerbated in this novel by physical problems. As must have been true for the time period, almost everyone smokes constantly and drinks to excess. I cough in response on almost every page. These books are ostensibly murder mysteries that Quirke solves with the help of a police detective, another amazing character. This book all the action comes in the last few pages and has an unsatis ...more
I know I've read a Quirke or two before. I enjoyed them. Still I'm not a big enough fan to have liked this particular story. The mystery was blaah but the real let down was two main characters going batty. One may actually have had a problem but the other just couldn't think straight and, therefore, annoyed the heck out of me. Then there was the girlfriend who always makes my skin crawl. I need to quit before I talk myself into taking away another star.

Mike Cuthbert
John Banville has a good life. Winner of the Booker Prize for literature, his alter-ego, Benjamin Black, delights in swaddling himself in a good mystery plot and letting quirky pathologist Dr. Quirke muddle his way through to a solution of crimes most foul. Black spends much more time on Quirke’s quirks than the mysteries, which makes a reader wonder how he ever concentrates long enough to solve anything, but the ride from commission of the crime to its solution is always a scenic and enjoyable ...more
Bob Price
Quirke is back in Benjamin Black's Holy Orders, a book that takes the alcoholic Irish Medical Examiner into conflict with the Roman Catholic Church.

Quirke is kind of like the Irish answer to Quincy, MD....if Quincy lived in the Ireland...and was an alcoholic. He is grumpy like House but just inquisitive enough to get the job done.

The plot centers around the murder of young friend of his daughters. He and his daughter have a tenuousness relationship at best, but yet he steps in to fin
After reading a review of a "new" Raymond Chandler novel, The Black-Eyed Blonde written by Benjamin Black, a book whose gestation is similar to that of Poodle Springs by Robert B. Parker and the late Mr. Chandler, I was intrigued enough to look in my local library for other books by Mr. Black. There I found Holy Orders, the sixth mystery novel in a series about a medical examiner named Quirke, who lives and works in 1950's Dublin, Ireland.

Like other one-named crime fiction predecessors such as
Another adventure with Dr Quirke & his friend Detective Inspector Hackett. I love these books and especially the evocation of Dublin in the 1950s - conservative, backward and often corrupt. This time the two friends investigate the brutal murder of a young journalist and like the previous books it's not so much about the criminal investigation as about the two principal characters and their personal trials and tribulations. No one gets arrested but there is a certain sort of justice nonethel ...more
I'd been aware of this series about Quirke, a pathologist in 1950's Ireland, for some time but Holy Orders is the first installment I've read. I'll be heading back to read the others because Holy Orders succeeds in doing something I love in any work of art: It takes me into a completely unfamiliar world. Quirke's Dublin is a place of dour pubs and rain-soaked streets where allegiances are long held, power resides in secret rooms, and all are subservient to the Church. No wonder Quirke is unhappy ...more
Back to form, with Quirke questioning the hallucinations he's suffering -- not caused by his once again heavy drinking, but that appear to be triggered by reactions to the latest crime he's investigating -- a crime linked to a smarmy priest and a group of tinkers. Childhood trauma is a knot at the center of the book - the things that get buried and are barely remembered. Phoebe is struggling with some aspects of the same -- a scent that is familiar, a childhood visit to a candy store with Quirke ...more
I expected more from a writer of Banville's talent. I love this series, and love to catch up with Phoebe and her father - they're both very likeable and sympathetic in their own way. You don't see much of the rest of the family here (Mal, Rose, etc), which is OK - I missed Rose, but Mal less so. The introduction of Sally was wonderful at first, and a part of me hopes that we'll hear from her again. But the ending wasn't very satisfying, and I feel like Banville/Black has tread a lot of this grou ...more
Mike Gabor
She looked at him and smiled sadly. ‘You’ve lived too long among the dead, Quirke,’ she said. He nodded. ‘Yes, I suppose I have.’ She was not the first one to have told him that, and she would not be the last. 1950s Dublin. When a body is found in the canal, pathologist Quirke and his detective friend Inspector Hackett must find the truth behind this brutal murder. But in a world where the police are not trusted and secrets often remain buried there is perhaps little hope of bringing the perpetr ...more
Bill Lancaster
i enjoy reading the work of Benjamin Black. Usually, there is not a lot of action, but there is a lot of introspection, a lot of reading between the lines in conversations. The protagonist is Quirke (one name), a Dublin pathologist with a very mixed past of regrets and mis-steps. He also has a drinking problem, though he probably would not admit to it.

In this book, a murder of a young Irish jouranlist, Jimmy Minor, leads Quirke and his detective colleague, Hackett, to conversations with a priest
Victoria Moore
All I can say after reading "Holy Orders" A Quirke Novel is that one of my favorite mystery writers Benjamin Black has done it again and created another masterpiece. From the time I was first introduced to his recurring characters, Quirke a pathologist at "Holy Family Hospital," Inspector Hackett, Phoebe (Quirke's daughter), Malachy/Mal (Quirke's brother), and Rose (Mal's wife) in "Christine Falls" to this book I formed a literary bond with them that allowed me to gladly follow them again into ...more
Another winner from Black in the Quirke series. The focus is definitely more on the characters than on the mystery of who killed reporter Jimmy Minor but with characters this interesting the book never skips a beat. If you're a fan of Quirke like myself you'll find this entry particularly satisfying.
Quirke is back. He and his friend Inspector Hacket investigate the murder of a crime journalist, a friend of his Quirke's daughter Phoebe. Quirke is not well, continued drinking, etc. The murder is solved, but what about Quirke....
I should give this book a higher rating just for the vocabulary I learned while reading it -- not only the Cant but a number of words that enjoy more usage in Great Britain than in the US. My issues with the book were
1: I was so weary of no question ever getting a straight answer from anyone. Every character denied, evaded, answered questions with questions. We couldn't get to the bottom of anything. And
2. While I recognize that this is a series of novels, this was the first I've read and I am
This is another in the series of crime fiction novels by Benjamin Black, who in another genre, is the Booker Prize winning John Banville. The series stars the boozing and gloomy Quirk, a criminal pathologist in Ireland in the 50's. I've read the first of the series, Christine Falls when it came out some 8 years ago, and thought this would be the perfect antidote to the winter blues - something gloomy and grim. The plot is really unimportant - a journalist, a friend of Quirk's daughter Phoebe, is ...more
Recently, I was on a camping trip and staying in a sheepherder’s wagon. Every time I entered the wagon, I was reminded of HOLY ORDERS, which I had just finished as I left for the trip. Much of the story detailed in the book becomes clear as Quirke (a pathologist helping out on a murder case) visits the travelers who enter their wagons by grabbing the sides of the doors and hauling themselves up. Benjamin Black’s descriptive prose sets the scene well, but experiencing living in one of these wago ...more
Holy Orders appears to be the fifth book in the Quirke series. Quirke is a pathologist who grew up within the cruel Irish Catholic orphanage system. This has left him scarred and affects all of his actions and relationships with others.

In this book, Quirke and Inspector Hackett investigate the murder of newspaper reporter Jimmy Minor. Quirke has recognized him on the autopsy table as his daughter's friend. This leads to much searching for the story Jimmy was working on and any links to his murde
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 45 46 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • I Hear the Sirens in the Street
  • The Rage
  • Collusion (Jack Lennon Investigations #2)
  • The Forsaken (Quinn Colson, #4)
  • Still Midnight (Alex Morrow #1)
  • A Door in the River (Hazel Micallef Mystery #3)
  • The Woman Who Wouldn't Die (Dr. Siri Paiboun, #9)
  • The Last Detective (Peter Diamond, #1)
  • Loyalty (Fina Ludlow #1)
  • I Can See in the Dark
  • Doctor Copernicus  (Revolutions Trilogy, #1)
  • Eyes of the Innocent (Carter Ross Mystery #2)
  • Black Skies (Inspector Erlendur, #10)
  • No Trace (Brock & Kolla, #8)
  • City of Lost Girls (Ed Loy, #5)
  • Gallows Lane (Inspector Devlin, #2)
  • Night Rounds (Inspector Huss #2)
  • The Demon of Dakar (Ann Lindell, #7)
Pen name for John Banville

Banville was born in Wexford, Ireland. His father worked in a garage and died when Banville was in his early thirties; his mother was a housewife. He is the youngest of three siblings; his older brother Vincent is also a novelist and has written under the name Vincent Lawrence as well as his own. His sister Vonnie Banville-Evans has written both a children's novel and a r
More about Benjamin Black...
Christine Falls (Quirke #1) The Silver Swan (Quirke, #2) Elegy for April (Quirke, #3) A Death in Summer (Quirke, #4) The Black-Eyed Blonde: A Philip Marlowe Novel

Share This Book

No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »

“Love was love, and always demanded more than a lover was capable of giving.” 1 likes
More quotes…