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(St. John Strafford #1)

3.60  ·  Rating details ·  7,488 ratings  ·  1,111 reviews
'The body is in the library,' Colonel Osborne said. 'Come this way.'

Following the discovery of the corpse of a highly respected parish priest at Ballyglass House - the Co. Wexford family seat of the aristocratic, secretive Osborne family - Detective Inspector St John Strafford is called in from Dublin to investigate.

Strafford faces obstruction from all angles, but carries
Kindle Edition, 255 pages
Published October 6th 2020 (first published 2017)
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Miriam I thought it was more literary than mystery. I figured out the reason for the murder pretty early on.
I would read more Benjamin Black, but I'll proba…more
I thought it was more literary than mystery. I figured out the reason for the murder pretty early on.
I would read more Benjamin Black, but I'll probably go back and read Banville's earlier works also knowing they are definitely literary.(less)
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Average rating 3.60  · 
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 ·  7,488 ratings  ·  1,111 reviews

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John Banville's historical mystery is set in a heavily snowed in Christmas period in Ireland, County Wexford, in 1957, featuring 35 year old Protestant Dublin Inspector St John Strafford sent to the scene of a gruesome murder of a Catholic Father Tom Lawless at the dilapidated and cold manor, Ballyglass, belonging to the aristocratic Colonel Geoffrey Osborne. Discovered in the early hours of the morning by Sylvia, the insomniac wife of Osborne, the body is in the library, all so very Agatha Chri ...more
Sep 21, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4 stars for an entertaining read about a murder mystery in rural Ireland in the 1950s. This mystery is as much about attitudes in Irish society as it is a murder mystery. A respected Catholic parish priest is found dead in the house of a local Protestant country squire. Religious attitudes and the power of the RC church in 1950s play a prominent role in this book. Detective Inspector Strafford is called in from Dublin to investigate. He and Detective Sergeant Jenkins start to investigate and slo ...more
Aug 26, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A deeply attentive plot that is clever and watchful through the characters that are so wonderfully drawn. There are many subtle nuances that enable John Banville to play with scenarios that are intriguing to observe, particularly the relationship between the preeminent catholic church in Ireland and the protestant citizens that tended to hold positions of wealth and standing. The imagery of a landscape covered in snow provides a very intriguing analogy with a blanket of cover concealing cr
Jul 17, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The story starts as one of the most famous detective story and with a wink from Mr Banville who creates his very own story with the snow and cold in the foreground. Detective Inspector St John Strafford is engimatic, withdrawn and a Protestant delegated to an Irish manor house to investigate the death of a Catholic priest.
His aristocratic background allows him to recognize in Ballyglass House the world from which he escaped but which still holds a steady grip on him. Strafford is not a characte
Aug 29, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The winter of 1957 is a harsh one especially around Christmas time which makes for a chillingly atmospheric setting for the murder of a priest. DI St John Strafford is summoned to Ballyglass House, the Wexford home of Colonel Osborne where Father Tom Lawless has been found murdered in the library. However, this is no Agatha Christie style mystery but rather a snapshot of a community in Ireland at this time.

The snow is a very important part of the storytelling as it blankets and covers up all an
Sep 30, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 5000-2020
I really enjoyed the first half of this book. Of course Banville writes beautifully and really knows his Irish home and its history.

Detective Strafford is an interesting and sympathetic main character and we are plunged straight into the action with the rather nasty murder of a Catholic priest, found in the library of an historic mansion. Things become a little bizarre as all of the family members in the house seem slightly mad in one way or another.

So the build up was good but about half way t
Oct 28, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Paula by: NetGalley
SNOW is the first book by John Banville I have read. An old-fashioned type of mystery and crime novel, that I unfortunately did not find interesting. The main character, a Detective Inspector, was unlikable. His “stiff upper lip” personality was one I could not enjoy. Nor was I a fan of any of the other characters.

Although disappointed, I do look forward to reading some of Banville’s literary fiction.

Many thanks to the publisher Faber & Faber LTD And NetGalley for the ARC of SNOW by John Banvill
Dec 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Snow by John Banville is a murder mystery and police procedural which takes place in County Wexford, Ireland. The year is 1957 and Detective Inspector St. John Strafford has been tasked with investigating the apparent murder of a priest, at Ballyglass House, ancestral home of the Osborne family. A snow storm is raging, the family appears unable to offer precise help in the matter and the DI’s detective has gone missing. As intriguing as this mystery is, what shines here is the quality of the pro ...more
3.5. The journey was so much fun, the destination cliche with a gooseberry on top, meaning a twist that felt too deliberate and didn’t make much of a difference in the end.

Banville is a good writer - I want to read him again. He’s funny, he immerses you in a time and place, and his characters are wonderfully eccentric.

The story is anti-Catholic-Church outside Dublin in 1957, while poking fun at Irish Protestants. It’s a murder mystery, that for the first half feels like an escape. Then comes a
Nov 26, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: detectivesque readers
It had been ages since I last read a detective novel and I rediscovered the genre with one of my favorite writers ever, versatile Banville. I felt at home with his familiar narrative; paused, suspenseful and refined, so reminiscent of his anti-hero’s latest books which I venerate.

This time, the reader walks beside a taciturn but young inspector in a misty Irish village where a disturbing murder has taken place, a Catholic priest has appeared severely mutilated in one of the great manors of the a
Diane S ☔
3.5 Banville is another versatile author who writes in many different genres. In Snow, the atmosphere is front and center. It is cold, the ground covered in the white stuff which often hinders the investigation. It permeates the air, permeates everything and makes it very difficult for Inspector Strafford. It is 1954 in Ireland, County Wexford, and the Catholic Church rules with an iron fist. Strafford, a Protestant, is called to the manor house of Colonel Osborne, to investigate the murder of a ...more
While I had so many other books to catch up with, I couldn't stop myself from requesting this latest novel from John Banville, although it's a police procedural/thriller.

Snow will probably disappoint the hardcore thriller/crime readers. I'm not one of those. I'm more interested in characterisations, atmosphere and the overall writing style - which, as I've come to expect from John Banville, were top notch. It's a bonus if I don't find any gaping plot holes - there were none.

It's 1957, Ireland.
John Banville’s new novel, “Snow” has received varying critiques. Some found the story flat and not up to Banville’s standards. I chose to listen to the audible production of the story, narrated by John Lee, because it’s supposed to be an Agatha Christie-like story. I thought the addition of a good narrator, who uses his voice to add nuance and emphasis, could enhance the story, thus provide the intended narrative. I’m happy I did.

The way John Lee narrated the story, with his emphasis of phrases
In every institution there’s an unofficial hierarchy. It’s natural – even the choirs of angels are ranked in strict order, from your poor old workaday guardian angel at the bottom, all the way up to the six-winged seraphim, the burning ones, who serve the Lord God directly.

I confess to having a love/hate relationship with John Banville, driven largely by exasperation. I have only read two of his books before, so apologise in advance to well-versed fans of his oeuvre. For me, his 2005 Booker winn
For me, the most interesting, indeed surprising thing about this book was that John Banville put his own name to it and not the pseudonym Benjamin Black which he's used in the past for his noir novels. I enjoyed those books initially but I eventually grew tired of the repetition of themes so I wouldn't have picked this up if I'd known it was more of the same. Admittedly, he's created a new and very different detective figure in this one, but the two principal characters from his noir series pop ...more
Mick Dubois
We’re 1957 in rural Ireland. In the mansion of protestant colonel Osborne, the body of a catholic priest is found in the library. The house friend has been stabbed and gelded. From the start, there’s pressure from the archbishop’s palace to treat the whole thing very discreetly and classify it as an accident (he fell from the stairs) and the details that must not come out, imagine the scandal and the neighbours.
It’s DI Strafford; a member of the same aristocratic minority who is dispatched from
Carolyn Walsh
Jan 26, 2021 rated it really liked it
This was an atmospheric mystery novel that is set in Ireland in the winter of 1957. The characters are well-drawn and believable. It involves the religious and class divisions that permeated the society at the time. The story centres around the powerful Catholic hierarchy's cover-up when their priests were discovered guilty of abuse, brutal beatings, and pedophilia. These priests' acts were hidden from the public, and they were frequently moved to another parish where their misdeeds continued. A ...more
Algernon (Darth Anyan)
Jan 29, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2021

‘Jesus Christ, will you look at this place?’ he wheezed. ‘Next thing Poirot himself will appear on the scene.’ He pronounced it Pworrott.

Instead of the famous Belgian moustache we are offered here the introspective detective Inspector St. John Strafford, with an ‘r’. He is sent down from Dublin a few days short of the Christmas of 1957 to deal with a delicate situation: the body of a priest has been found dead in the library of a big country manor. Banville is deliberately setting up the scen
Jul 06, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: irishfic, netgalley, 2020, arc
No, Strafford thought, there was no sense to it. The thing was entirely implausible, and yet there it was, the deed was done, the man was dead. He felt as if he were stumbling through a snowstorm, the snow dense and blindingly white. There were others around him, also moving, dim grey ghosts, and when he reached out to touch them he grasped only an icy emptiness.

Snow begins like a straightforward murder mystery (“The body is in the library,” Colonel Osborne said. “Come this way.”), and if on
Nov 05, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A priest is found stabbed and mutilated in the home of a country squire. This book is the start of a new mystery series by this author, who previously published his mysteries under the name Benjamin Black. The name Banville was reserved for his more literary fiction. This book definitely didn’t feel like literary fiction. It’s an old school murder mystery with a body in the library and a closed circle of suspects with secrets. It features Irish Detective Inspector St John Strafford, who kisses o ...more
Nov 04, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Holy shit no. I refuse to read any further, giving up at 80%. It's been mostly an interesting detective story but a certain characters confessions are so profane and disgusting I cannot keep reading and have to rate this 1 star. ...more
Jul 18, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
Given the profession of the murder victim and the nature of his injuries, there was little doubt in my mind where this story was going so I just settled in for the journey and hoped to enjoy some great writing. Apart from some lovely snow-covered landscape and some memorable descriptions of characters - as Inspector Strafford notes, they seem like actors in costume ready to walk on stage and description is confined mainly to their looks, we learn little of their inner selves - I found it all a t ...more
Dominique || Ragdollsandbooks
What an apt title. Snow features in this novel like a true master of suspense. It weaves the story together like a pro. Ireland's landscape is atmospheric in any season, but snow makes the rural town in Ireland feel even more remote.

This remoteness is the perfect setting of John Banville's latest novel. The story takes place in 1957. It starts with the body of a priest in a library and a detective unwilling to return to small town Ireland to solve the murder. The cast of characters are like act
Susan Johnson
Oct 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The incomparable Booker Prize winner’s next great crime novel—the story of a family whose secrets resurface when a parish priest is found murdered in their ancestral home. Detective Inspector St. John Strafford has been summoned to County Wexford to investigate a murder. A parish priest has been found dead in Ballyglass House, the family seat of the aristocratic, secretive Osborne family. The year is 1957 and the Catholic Church rules Ireland with an iron fist. Strafford—flinty, visibly Protesta ...more
Feb 10, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
I love John Banville's prose and truly enjoyed many of the descriptive passages. Here are two examples that I managed to write down while I listened to the sublime John Lee's narration:

"Fear is a fine spice." This made me think. Perhaps a little fear can be motivational or induce a better performance?

"There was that robin again with his bright bead of an eye." What an apt description that immediately brings this lovely bird to mind. I was glad to get a second chance on capturing this quote. The
Sep 09, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
DI Strafford is called to a country house where there has been a grisly murder--a priest has been stabbed and castrated. He was obviously murdered, but the Catholic archbishop insists that the press release say only that he fell down the stairs. We eventually learn that the priest had a disturbing predilection, ruining lives before his misdeeds finally caught up with him. The cold and snowy Irish winter is almost as much a character as the players in this atmospheric novel.. Thanks to Netgalley ...more
Nov 04, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
St. John (pronounced ‘sinjun’) Strafford arrives at the crumbling Anglo-Irish family seat of Ballyglass to investigate the murder of an elderly Catholic priest who has been stabbed and castrated and left in the library. The reader knows immediately that this is a crime of vengeance related to sex. But this is the year 1957 and the church doesn’t want those details to get out—at all. However, for such a popular priest, no one seems to be too grief-stricken by his death.

Banville has Strafford inve
Snow, John Banville’s new foray into historical mystery, is set in 1957 Ireland, more specifically, County Wexford, where Garda Detective Inspector St. John Strafford has been called in to investigate the brutal murder of a local priest. Strafford is Protestant in a dominant Catholic country, a fact that has obviously been on his mind for much of his life and which can influence aspects of the case if he isn’t careful. The murder has occurred at Ballyglass House, a Protestant household, a deteri ...more
Louise Wilson
Oct 04, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ireland, 1957: A priest has been murdered in Ballyglass House, the estate of a Protestant Upper class family. DI Stafford has be3n called in to investigate. Christmas is approaching and the snow is falling heavily. DI Stafford and DS Jenkins must solve this heinous crime quickly.

This book portrays the history of Irish Catholicism. Ireland was ruled under the Catholic Church but Archbishop John Charles McQuaid. There's quite a few suspects who all hav3 motives. The snow creates on ominous impress
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Does the central mystery matter when the writing around it is this good? 1 4 Jan 21, 2021 03:47AM  

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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 reminiscence of growing up ...more

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