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The Silver Swan (Quirke #2)

3.46  ·  Rating Details ·  2,698 Ratings  ·  366 Reviews
It has been two years since the events of Christine Falls, the bestselling novel that introduced the world to an irascible Dublin pathologist named Quirke. Quirke's beloved Sarah has died, his surrogate father lies paralyzed by a stroke, and he's been sober for half a year. When a near-forgotten acquaintance asks him to cover up his beautiful young wife's apparent suicide, ...more
Paperback, 310 pages
Published 2008 by Picador (first published June 1st 2005)
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Feb 28, 2016 Darwin8u rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015

"Death is a rough customer."

"Everything rushes back. Everything replaces itself."
-- Benjamin Black (or John Banville), The Silver Swan


'The Silver Swan' is Benjamin Black's (alter ego of John Banville) second Quirke novel. There is something about Dublin in the 50s that makes sense for a noir novel. The rain. The brooding. The whiskey. The shit food. The damp seediness and decay (both material and moral).

Quirke is a perfect character for these novels. He is an off-the-wagon (Christine Falls), on
Mar 20, 2008 Paul rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the new (second) novel written by John Banville under the pen name Benjamin Black. I think I was first on the reserve list at the MCPL. I had enjoyed the first Black book, "Christine Falls," so much that I was quite eager to get my hands on this one.

I was disappointed. I truly enjoyed my visit to Dublin that Black/Banville provided (it's one of my favorite towns) but notwithstanding that, I thought the characters acted in ways that were not in harmony with their natures.

I won't make th
I'm hooked on Quirke-the taciturn, rather unfriendly "hero" of Benjamin Black (aka John Banville) mystery series. The Silver Swan is the second in the series (and the second I've read). Laura Swan (real name: Deirdre Hunt) is dead and her husband has contacted morgue pathologist Quirke requesting Quirke not do a post-mortem. Of course, this awakens Quirke's (already infamous from the first book in the series) curiosity. Once again, Quirke is drawn into a mess of murder (and dubious sexual activi ...more
Nancy Oakes
With Quirke's life now in a bit more of a muddle after the revelations made in Christine Falls, he is making more of an attempt to stay off the drink, but he always needs that one more -- but "of course, it would not be just the one." But it's over tea that he meets with Billy Hunt, an old schoolmate he hasn't seen in years. Billy's wife Deirdre was found in the waters of Sandycove Bay, seemingly a victim of suicide, and he asks Quirke to forego an autopsy, claiming that he can't stand thinking ...more
Aug 17, 2010 KarenC rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to KarenC by: next in series

A murder mystery to be solved by an inept pathologist who does a bad job of trying to be an amateur detective. Quirke should stick to being a pathologist, report his complete and truthful findings at the coroner's inquest and walk away from the case. His detecting instincts are awful, causing more issues than he resolves. In this one he just gets it all wrong.

Characters seemed flat and engendered no feelings of empathy. Female characters remain the same helpless, undirected, sex objects they we

Sep 23, 2014 Ms.pegasus rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone interested in mysteries
Shelves: mystery, fiction
THE SILVER SWAN could easily be considered a continuation of the author's first book in the series, CHRISTINE FALLS. Readers are warned here that the second book contains numerous spoilers to the first. In addition, however, reading the first book will enhance the momentum of character development as well as the reader's enjoyment.

Once again, Quirke's curiosity leads him into trouble. As a Dublin pathologist in the 1950's, Quirke is occasionally asked for favors. Relatives of a deceased may ask
Deborah Moulton
May 11, 2010 Deborah Moulton rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For some reason, this second book by Benjamn Black (a.k.a. Irish Booker-Prize winner John Banville) was easier to get into than the first one. 1950s Ireland is just as parochial and repressed as I had imagined. Although I like the weather which is very Seattle-like.

This is a novel of 1950s-era sexual predators and con men, but without church involvement. Their prey are women: women with money, women with access to drugs, women who long for spiritual fulfillment, women of diminished hopes, lonel
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
John Banville is one of my favorite modern authors, and I was tremendously excited when I learned he'd written noir mysteries under the pen name of Benjamin Black. The first of these Christine Falls grabbed me from page one, and never let go. For that reason I was a bit worried when I started this one; it was so bleak and depressing at the outset that it put me off, and I nearly set it aside. By a couple chapters in, however, I was hooked, although it does remain pretty grim.

If you aren't famili
Bookmarks Magazine

The Silver Swan raises two major questions: First, is Black-the-crime-novelist as good as Banville-the-novelist? Second, does The Silver Swan live up to expectations raised by Christine Falls? Not surprisingly, critics diverge on both questions. A few think that Black's crime novels don't stand up to Banville's best work. "This distracting mediocrity doesn't suit him at all," notes The Globe and Mail. Others cite Black as a genre-bending novelist intent on using the noir framework to successfull

May 19, 2009 Yeti rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The sequel to "Christine Falls" which surpasses the first book, in my humble opinion. These irish writers are starting to win me over with their rather unique perspective of life, love and liberty.
Mar 22, 2009 Jason rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As good as Christine Falls was, this is better. Really, one of the best books I have read in a long time. Quirke is a great protagonist, and Black/Banville is REALLY talented.

Dec 22, 2012 Neva rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Из архивите - рецензии за в. "Гласове".

Ако първата половина на тази книга не беше необходима, за да се стигне до втората, бих препоръчала просто да се пропусне: тя е неикономично повторителна, досадно бавна и против свещените правила на криминалния роман – нас не ни интересува толкова кой е убиецът, а как става такъв; ние сме достатъчно нащрек, за да хванем намеците, преките обяснения при това положение просто затлачват възприятията. Втората половина обаче се забързва и разгръща ярко оперение, к
Janine M
Apr 04, 2009 Janine M rated it it was amazing
Dublin pathologist Quirke cannot seem to tame his curiosity. After opening up a Pandora's box of family secrets in “Christine Falls,” Quirke now finds himself driven to discover how and why Deidre Hunt, aka Laura Swan, turned up dead in a lake near Dublin and ended up in his morgue. Why does Billy Hunt, his former classmate and Deidre's husband, plead with him not to do an autopsy? Why does he, Quirke, care? In his stubborn way, Quirke is like a dog with a bone: he knows he should bury it but he ...more
Black is back! Whereas I didn't find the central characters as engaging as Christine Falls, this was still crime noir par excellence. It feels that Black aka Banville is setting the stage for future Quirke mysteries that center on the story more than on Quirke's troubled personal life. Christine Falls was rife with the melodrama surrounding Quirke's relationships. Now that a couple of key characters have left the scene, er, permanently, Quirke/Black/Banville is freer to uncover more sordid going ...more
Jul 25, 2012 Larraine rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In the novel preceding this one, Christine Falls, we meet Dr. Quirke, an obsessive and trouble pathologist in an Irish hospital. In that novel, Quirke discovers his brother-in-law altering the file of a dead woman. Quirke, who describes himself as "curious," retrieves and examines the young woman's body. Before we know it, he has discovered a ring of illegal adoptions run by the Catholic Church in Ireland.

In this second novel in the series, Quirke is back - still obsessive, still curious. He's
Apr 24, 2008 Carolee rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Mystery readers
Recommended to Carolee by: Carol K
Benjamin Black is the pen name of the award winning author John Banville; listen to his podcast about this book at

I didn't know this book is his sequel to "Christine Falls" and I plan to read it next.

Quirke is a reformed alcoholic & pathologist whose character is so believable that I felt I knew him. His estranged & complicated relationship with his daughter is masterfully presented. The relationship is full of unspoken and typically poor communication
Karen A.
Meh!! This was like Masterpiece Mystery without the Master. Something I would normally watch if there is nothing else on.

The main detective, Quirke, who is actually a coroner for the city of Dublin, is a conflicted man, haunted by his past (blah blah blah) so much so that he is really ineffectual and mostly a non-character through out the book. This makes me wonder how you build a series around such a man?? The other characters are only slightly more intriguing. There is Diedre Hunt who discove
Cheryl Simmons
A well written mystery, but the overall dark, gloomy tone made it hard to keep reading. The characters all seemed to fall, seemingly without any will of their own, into affairs, drug use, and murder. It's hard to believe that people would want to live like that.
Aug 23, 2016 Leah rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 14, 2012 Adithyajones rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An intelligent,engaging psychological thriller from Black where he takes you to the big bad world of Ireland in the 50's with its share of characters with unfulfilled desires and dark minds out there to take advantage of it. Black maintains the atmospheric literary writing quality which made Black/Banville one of the forces in the field of literature, at the same time also follows the rules of suspense writing which is essential for this type of genre writing thereby maintaining the right balanc ...more
Benjamin Black is the pen name of acclaimed author John Banville, whose novels have won numerous awards, most recently the Man Booker Prize in 2005 for The Sea. In this haunting, masterfully written, and utterly mesmerizing sequel to Christine Falls, Quirke, the irascible, formerly hard-drinking Dublin pathologist, returns in this spellbinding crime novel, in which a young woman's dubious suicide sets off a new string of hazards and deceptions.

We met Benjamin Black when he visited the Tattered C
Mark Joyce
Jan 31, 2016 Mark Joyce rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
How many other literary writers are there working today who could assume a nom de plume, put to one side the highly stylised, Booker award winning technique with which they are synonymous and bang out a series of hardboiled detective novels that stand worthy comparison with Raymond Chandler? The second instalment in this series is another triumph, with the tragic but also drily hilarious Quirke accompanied by some strong new supporting characters, most notably the silver-haired cad Leslie White. ...more
Jun 13, 2014 Jill rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I thought I would try another of John Banville’s pseudonymous mystery series, because sometimes authors get better at mysteries as a series progresses. Then again, sometimes they don’t.

The main protagonist of this series is Quirke (no first name ever given), who is the head pathologist at the Hospital of the Holy Family in Dublin. It is the 1950s, but two years later than the first book in the series, Christine Falls. Quirke is intrigued after an old friend asks him not to do an autopsy on his y
Apr 30, 2014 Terri rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Another English mystery, where as many words as possible are used in the writing. I did like this book, the plot was different, the characters were well-developed, even if you didn't like the 'good' guys sometimes. I was a bit surprised by the ending, which is a good thing, at least a lot better than knowing the ending by the time you finish the first couple chapters.
I have to quote two sentences here, though, that made me read and read them a couple times. "Perhaps the fascination of it, for
Jun 11, 2016 Z rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
When is a murder mystery not a murder mystery? When Benjamin Black writes in, apparently. Having read two of his book now, I find it still the case that murders happen, certain main characters sniff around, some actually sleep around with some of the questionable mugs, and eventually the truth about the murder(s) is revealed. Along the way, there is much expository work about the history of important and relevant relationships, as well as allusions to important background that doesn't get center ...more
Vassiliki Dass
Jun 22, 2015 Vassiliki Dass rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Το ξαναδιάβασα μετά από 5 χρόνια από την αρχική ανάγνωση η οποία τότε είχε γίνει με 6 μήνες διαφορά από την ανάγνωση του Διπλού θανάτου της Κριστίν Φολλς που ήταν το πρώτο του Μπλακ (Μπάνβιλ). Τότε λοιπόν, το 2010, δεν είχα εκτιμήσει δεόντως τον Ασημένιο Κύκνο γιατί δεν θυμόμουν αρκετά καλά την υπόθεση του πρώτου. Τώρα όμως που τα διάβασα συνεχόμενα καταλήγω στο ότι είναι και τα δύο αριστουργήματα. Πρώτα απ’ όλα η γλώσσα του Μπλακ είναι τόσο όμορφη, τόσο παραστατική που πολλές φορές ξεχνάς να πα ...more
Another noir-ish mystery featuring curious pathologist Quirk. The first book in this series was OK, so I went for the second. After all, how bad could a book by a Man Prize-winning novelist writing under a pen name be? Pretty boring actually.
A dead woman on the table, and a estranged school chum who him to mar her beauty by cutting her up.
Quirk finds some signs of hanky-panky though, and autopsies her anyway. The woman supposedly committed suicide by drowning, but has no water in her lungs, didn
Mar 07, 2008 Liberty rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Most of this book was so shiveringly delicious that, had it been my copy, I would have licked the pages in appreciation. Black describes the setting and characters so vividly that I felt as though I, too, was smoking, drinking whisky and wearing nylon stockings every time I picked it up. The mystery lags a bit at the end, but as with its predecessor, "Christine Falls," that part of the story is almost beside the point.
Oct 07, 2011 Beth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: listened
I think it is Black's writing I like more than the story. "What he did know he lost down the neck of a whiskey bottle." "He wasn't really hiding; wind drunk in a cool dark corner tasted better." I may just buy these books so I can highlight the phrases!!!! The story was ok, good twists and turns. But like "Christine Falls" I had a hard time following when he changed from who's perspective the narration was written.
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The Quirke Discus...: The Silver Swan Discussion Questions 1 7 Jul 09, 2013 03:25PM  
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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)
  • Elegy for April (Quirke, #3)
  • A Death in Summer (Quirke, #4)
  • Vengeance (Quirke, #5)
  • Holy Orders (Quirke #6)
  • Even the Dead (Quirke #7)

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