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Holy Orders (Quirke #6)

3.62  ·  Rating Details ·  1,186 Ratings  ·  207 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 2013)
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Marmotilla De Biblioteca It can be a stand alone, and that can apply to all the books about Quirke (In fact, I've read the other books in a different order and you don't miss…moreIt can be a stand alone, and that can apply to all the books about Quirke (In fact, I've read the other books in a different order and you don't miss anything big). (less)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Julie Christine
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

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
Oct 26, 2016 BlackOxford rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: irish
Noir With a Conscience But a fraud.

Peopled by characters you might not invite to dinner but who are nevertheless comprehensible as human beings: the alcoholic, emotionally damaged protagonist Quirke, his co-dependent, suicidal girlfriend Isabel, and his sympathetic but not terribly clever daughter Phoebe.

Set in a theocratic Dublin of the 1950’s, with a few blatant Irishisms and just a subtle touch of the sod in the voices of the more rural characters, there are brewery drays and wind-up teleph
Nov 19, 2013 Tony rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Tomas Conde
Aun recuerdo el autor de este libro en una conferencia en la ciudad de Bogotá, el es claro en desafiar la sanidad mental, el tener solo una vida es aburrido,muy pocos nos enfrentamos al hecho de desafiar la individualidad y abrirnos a ver el mundo desde otros ojos, otros gustos, otros modos de pensar. En ocasiones despierto de lo que pareció un sueño, veo mi mundo tan distante, tan ficticio y de repente me doy cuenta que soy habitualmente poseído. Hoy no soy yo, soy legión.

Sep 03, 2013 Larraine rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 29, 2014 Scott Parsons rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime
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
Mal Warwick
Jan 16, 2014 Mal Warwick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
José Luis
Aug 14, 2015 José Luis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Comenzar a leer un libro de Benjamin Black y tener la sensación de que uno está entrando en una película en blanco y negro protagonizada por esos detectives con sus trajes pulcros unos y arrugados otros, empezar a ver el humo que sale de los cigarrillos y sentir el paso del alcohol por la garganta es todo uno. Sinceramente no creo que haya escritores que reflejen mejor que Black ese ambiente de novela negra clásica, pero si alguien los conoce que lo diga p
Sep 03, 2013 judy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery-thriller
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.

Catherine Woodman
John Banville seems a whole lot more persnickety as a writer than his pseudonym, but this is a well constructed story and well done in the frame work of a murder mystery--I was just hoping for something more.
Nov 26, 2013 Kelly rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: did-not-finish
Nothing made me want to continue past page 43. Tried twice. Read further the second time.
Apr 18, 2017 Susan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A beautifully written novel which powerfully evokes mid-century Ireland with its dreary weather and even drearier chapters of Catholic Church history. And Quirke is as wonderfully quirky as ever.
Apr 13, 2015 DGT rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Ah, doctor, you have a way with the sky pilots.” It turns out that Inspector Hackett’s praise for Quirke is unwarranted. The power of the Catholic Church in the Republic of Ireland is such that the terrible secret at the heart of the latest of Benjamin Black’s novels about the Dublin pathologist, is covered up or mostly so. As a capital city but a small one, with most of what happens concentrated in its Georgian heart, 1950s’ Dublin is a city full of secrets and and networks of familial and ins ...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
Aug 14, 2014 Simon rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery-101
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
Mar 21, 2014 Joyce rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, fiction
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
José Luis
Aug 26, 2015 José Luis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Comenzar a leer un libro de Benjamin Black y tener la sensación de que uno está entrando en una película en blanco y negro protagonizada por esos detectives con sus trajes pulcros unos y arrugados otros, empezar a ver el humo que sale de los cigarrillos y sentir el paso del alcohol por la garganta es todo uno. Sinceramente no creo que haya escritores que reflejen mejor que Black ese ambiente de novela negra clásica, pero si alguien los conoce que lo diga p
Therese Rickman-bull
My three stars do not indicate that I was overly enthused about Holy Orders. Black/Banville may be feeling constrained by the milieu, Dublin, and more especially the time-frame, the 1950s, so much so that he is not entirely sure on what facet of life in Ireland he wishes to focus. The most vividly drawn character is the weather, followed closely perhaps by whiskey. Dr. Quirke and Inspector Hackett fulfill their allotted roles,although Hackett had only a walk-on role in this book. The two crime-s ...more
Dec 03, 2013 Clare rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am not the kind of person who appreciates language often and I read far too fast but Banvilles Black seems to be able to change that for me. What amazing prose!So simple and yet it really gives such a sense of place. Being Irish and remembering Dublin in the 80s(which was not so different from the 50s at that point)I am amazed at how this book brings me back in time to a place before the internet and phones, to dark pubs and ticking clocks and the sun shining through dusty paned windows on cro ...more
Sep 29, 2013 Cateline rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 04, 2015 Linda rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
For some reason I usually like Benjamin Black's writing more than most people. Quirke, the main character is such an unlikable person though, probably why the books are not rated higher. Even though he suffered serious trauma as a child, the kind of things that would affect a person for life, you still can't garner much sympathy for him. I am giving this book a 3 because it just seemed to fall apart in the last 50 or so pages. I was highly unsatisfied with the way the book ended. Not only the la ...more
Sep 23, 2013 Sharyn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Lewis Weinstein
Benjamin Black writes beautifully. His descriptions of people, and even more so places, are just superb. He has taken care with every word. It is a pleasure to linger over these descriptions and allow them to fill your mind.

However, the plot and the resolution of that plot in "Holy Orders" leaves much to be desired.

It starts out well, with an unexplained murder and a growing constellation of characters possibly related to it. The fascinating Quirke and several other characters are well develope
Feb 02, 2014 Laura rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Not one of the stronger Quirke books. A bit disjointed; a bit disappointing. A body (of someone regular series readers know) is beaten to death and tossed into the canal; this is the mystery/crime to be resolved. I like the relationship between Quirke (the coroner) and Hackett (the detective); over the series they've developed a good, but quiet friendship and work well together to resolve the murders. This one just didn't flow as well as some of the others. It ended with a non-murder-related cli ...more
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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...

Other Books in the Series

Quirke (7 books)
  • Christine Falls (Quirke #1)
  • The Silver Swan (Quirke #2)
  • Elegy for April (Quirke #3)
  • A Death in Summer (Quirke #4)
  • Vengeance (Quirke #5)
  • Even the Dead (Quirke #7)

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