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Elegy for April

(Quirke #3)

3.60  ·  Rating details ·  2,505 ratings  ·  350 reviews

Quirke — the hard-drinking, insatiably curious Dublin pathologist — is back, and he's determined to find his daughter's best friend, a well-connected young doctor

April Latimer has vanished. A junior doctor at a local hospital, she is something of a scandal in the conservative and highly patriarchal society of 1950s Dublin. Though her family is one of the most respected

Hardcover, 304 pages
Published April 13th 2010 by Henry Holt and Co. (first published 2010)
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Average rating 3.60  · 
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 ·  2,505 ratings  ·  350 reviews

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Apr 27, 2015 rated it liked it
I read this book for a challenge and the author was previously unknown to me. It turned out to be an okay read and was reasonably interesting but I will probably not be seeking out the rest of the series. The main character is the usual alcoholic heavy smoking, melancholic middle age man who is nevertheless amazing at solving impossible crimes and astonishingly attractive to young beautiful women. Sounds familiar? I think I already have enough of those in my reading lists. Nevertheless this is n ...more
Another Quirke and Hackett investigation and at this stage the charm is wearing off.
How many more women can possibly fall into Quirke’s hapless arms?
How many more descriptions of someone smoking or staring into the bottom of a whiskey glass can I take?
How many repetitions of scenes in pubs, restaurants, dreary flats, are possible without the author quoting himself unconsciously? Already I’ve caught Black repeating a description and then passing it off as a character’s ‘recollection’ of an ear
Years ago I read "Christine Falls," an intriguing rather gothish, noir mystery by an author (pen) named Benjamin Black. It was good enough to have remained RAM-ready for recall in the intervening years, whereas, say, when I (re)purchased the book "Crimson Petal and The White" it was not until page 400 or so did I get that first flicker of recognition. Sadly, even Annie Proulx's Pulitzer masterpiece had mind-floated away from me into that frigid, churning sea until Qouyle finally dawned on me 2 o ...more
May 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
“Benjamin Black” is the pseudonym for John Banville, a master of language whose serious works often complete for literary prizes.

This is a hard bitten narrative with mesmerizing use of language. Black’s descriptions are wonderful, the second paragraph’s evocation of fog being among the best I’ve read, and fog becomes a leitmotif weaving its way throughout the entire narrative. Phoebe’s friend April has gone missing in Dublin. Phoebe elicits the help of their newspaper reporter friend Jimmy to he
Mar 06, 2016 rated it liked it
Third times the charm, usually, and could still very well be if you start here. B. Black is a wonderful writer (of course, we all know he is in his *other life* the wonderful Irish novelist John Banville, moonlighting to pay the bills between his literary novels). Problem I see with his Quirke novels is they are so far (x3) formulaic and not particularly shatteringly creative (which we all forgive because, my god, it is getting harder and harder to find a good author these days--or a good recomm ...more
Nancy Oakes
Jul 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
for a single glance at the first four novels in the Quirke series, click on through to where I post my online crime fiction reviews.

We start moving into deeper, blacker territory here with Elegy for April, a trend that continues through the two novels following this one. This book also happens to be one of my favorites in the series.

The book appropriately begins in the fog, which hangs over the story throughout -- and finds Quirke at the House of St. John of the Cross, a "refuge for addicts o
Mal Warwick
May 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Many of the very best mysteries are profoundly political. In digging deeply into what makes their characters tick, the writers locate the roots of their class origins and the wounds inflicted on them by their families, their neighbors, and society at large.

Not convinced? Think about the sociology underlying Elizabeth George’s Inspector Lynley series . . . the vast power of the moneyed forces fought by V. I. Warshawski in Sara Paretsky’s novels . . . the legal battles between powerful institution
Apr 18, 2010 rated it liked it

I wondered after I read this novel, which while atmospherically lovely, was somewhat lacking in character development, if it assumed previous knowledge of the protagonist, Quirke, a middle-aged pathologist/alcoholic in 50s Dublin, trying to dry out, but failing, and sometimes failing miserably. He appears in previous novels by the author but I found him a hard character to get to know just on the basis of Elegy for April.

Quirke is assisting his biological daughter, Phoebe, by looking into the m
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prose and atmosphere were amazing, especially the descriptions of sometimes foggy, sometimes Ice-bound Dublin in February. Characters and plot both felt thin though, so mixed feelings about the book as a whole. Would like to read more by this author, so opting for 3 stars.
Apr 04, 2020 rated it liked it
I gave this a 3; because, I am sure it would have been better if I read it as opposed to listened to it. The reader was far too dramatic and hard to understand at times. That being said, the story was pretty slow moving. Some parts were strong, but overall I don't think the concept was strong enough for a novel. The end made it a little better, but not quite enough. I guess I would be interested in reading the other Quirkes; not because this book was so good...maybe just so I can see if the othe ...more
Apr 06, 2011 rated it it was ok
Now that I've read this book, I'm amazed at the hype it got. Not only did I find the characters very two-dimensional, but the plot also was thin. And the ending was an "oh, come ON!" for me.

April Latimer, a junior doctor, is missing. Her friend Phoebe hasn't heard from her in several days, even though they usually talked on the phone at least once a day. (It is never explained why Phoebe and April are close enough to warrant so much communication.) Phoebe gets her (and April's) group of friends
Kate Vane
Nov 03, 2014 rated it liked it
This book is beautifully written. It evokes the fog-enveloped gloom of 1950s Dublin. It provides insights into the claustrophobic world of the city’s middle class. But nothing happens.

Phoebe thinks her friend April may have disappeared but April always was a bit of a wild one. Phoebe talks about it to Quirke. Quirke ruminates on his complex family history. He learns to drive. He occasionally does some work but when he does it’s not very good.

Various people suddenly want to speak to Quirke with t
Sep 18, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery-crime
Benjamin Black conjures up 1950's Dublin in his Quirke detective series, which features a hard-drinking, middle aged pathologist who is more inclined to brooding than to living. In Elegy for April, Quirke is recruited by his daughter to discover what has become of her friend April, who hasn't been seen in nearly two weeks. He begins with decided reluctance, but that soon evolves into a kind of dogged determination to get to the bottom of things. This is mystery falls squarely into the noir tradi ...more
Rachel G
Do you know what was more interesting than this book? Everything. I stopped reading this book part way through to read another book. Also, I had to tear myself away from the internet many times to force myself to read this book because more interesting things include: FB, pinterest, blogs, gifs, online shopping, online TV, buzzfeed, the list goes on.

There was way too much attempt at character development in this book. Which would have been okay if it wasn’t all completely pointless. As a myste
Stacy Bearse
Oct 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
This third entry in the Quirke series is an eloquently written mid-century mystery that takes place in Dublin. We never meet April, the central character, but we learn much about her from her friends and family. The story is centered on the best and worst of human relationships, and explores the broad spectrum between truth and deceit. The central question in this compact story is never really resolved, but I'm OK with that; the mere quest for an answer changes everyone involved in ways they cou ...more
May 24, 2020 rated it did not like it
I'm confused. It was a whole pointless beginning and middle where nothing happened and no one really figured anything out. Went around in circles of doing the same thing of doing nothing. The "bad" person had a very dark and sad confession. The story continued for a little bit longer in even more pointless things and ended quite abruptly. Like what is the point? Is there one? I really don't think there is.
Apr 21, 2020 rated it it was ok
Pretty slow, with everything wrapping up in one chapter. None of the characters were very likable, or if they were they made terrible choices. To use the author's constant setting it was like looking at a possibly interesting story through fog.
A bit confusing at times. Did not hold my attention as much as I thought it would. Also spent a lot of time explaining random stuff that didn’t really add anything to the story line..
Sep 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Does the sun never shine in Dublin? This one starts off slowly and drags us along in the cold dreary weather. I just loved it. Quirk is as bleak as the weather.
Julie Christine
I'm not much of a connoisseur of crime fiction; or perhaps it's that my tastes are narrowly defined. I like my settings non-US (I would say European/British Isles if not for the most excellent Finding Nouf by Zoe Ferraris, set in Saudi Arabia, or Stef Penney's historical Hudson Bay Territory thriller), my detective/protagonists odd but not depraved (Adam Dalgliesh, thank you for being a loner and a poet). And the writing? Sniff. Just because it's a genre that adheres to a well-worn formula (exce ...more
Aug 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I've been catching up with Benjamin Black aka John Banville. This is the third in his series featuring Quirke, a brilliant, dark pathologist who fights alcoholism - mostly unsuccessfully - and is trying to be a father to his daughter - pretty much also mostly unsuccessfully. The novel opens with Quirke finishing up a stint at a grim clinic run by the Christian Brothers. He's dried out - at least temporarily - but the need for a drink is never far away. It is the depths of winter in Dublin. On Ch ...more
May 02, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: irish-authors
Another clever and touching (is that possible in this genre?) mystery from Black/Banville.

Poor Phoebe Griffin! A lovely young woman, bright, articulate, the daughter of one of the 1950’s Dublin’s most prominent surgeons and an Irish-American princess à la Grace Kelly, she works in a Grafton Street hat shop. By choice. Yet in Christine Falls, the first novel by Benjamin Black (the nom-de-plume of Booker Prize-winning Irish novelist John Banville), Phoebe discovers that she was in fact adopted by
Marguerite Kaye
Feb 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
My third Quirke book, and I loved it even more than the first two. Quirke has been drying out, and of course he's telling himself he'll turn over a new leaf even though he knows perfectly well he's not only not addressed any of his 'issues' he's deliberately turned his back on them. But one of them, in the form of his daughter, who comes to him for help when her friend seems to have disappeared, will not be ignored.

I love Quirke. I love his slow, lumbering inability to deal with life, and at th
Trixy Lemell
Jan 05, 2013 rated it liked it
I received Elegy for April in a free give away. The cover instantly interested me, the summary grabbed my attention. Sadly, the hype didn't carry through to the end of the novel. You have your stereotypical middle aged, heavy smoking, alcoholic washed up detective who solves impossible crimes while attracting young, beautiful women. The rest of the characters are just as two dimensional and stock board. April, the character in question is as much of a mystery to the reader as she is to her frien ...more
My third B Black book...maybe my last. These stories are really lacking in depth of character and plot. After three in the series, I still know little about the leads, nor do I have any desire to know them more. A couple of them tend to sleep with murder suspects, which is incongruous to what one would expect of a detective-type person (even if it's more of a hobby than an official role). There is little fact-finding and a lot of thinking about alcoholism, thinking about drinking or not drinking ...more
Donna Agnelly
Sep 15, 2010 rated it liked it
Another good book in the Quirke series by Benjamin Black. Dark, Irish and characters with flaws. Quirke continues to be interesting and I like the way the author is developing his relationship with his daughter Phoebe. I unknowingly reread this book - didn't realize it until I went to review it - I've reduced my rating by 1 star in this reread - I found myself highly irritated with Quirke's drinking in this book - and the book starts with Quirke coming out of the hospital after drying out. Incre ...more
Bobby  Title
Feb 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
A snippit of a review in a newspaper led me to "Elegy for April." I had never heard of it, or the author, or the series. And with generic-type reviews, what the review says may not be at all what I find in the book once I get it. So when this book proved to be one of the "keepers" (meaning I didn't immediately return it to the library!) I was delighted. It was a "three-fer..." I got a new author to follow, a new series to catch up on, and a good, good read, which I was hungry for.

I loved the cha
Mark Joyce
Aug 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
Despite John Banville using his Benjamin Black pseudonym to have a bit of tongue in cheek fun, he is incapable of crafting a bad sentence and the writing in Quirke is way above the quality you would usually expect from a detective series. If you haven’t read the first two books you need to go back and do so as there are frequent callbacks to them throughout Elegy for April. If you have then you know what to expect: smoke-filled pubs, grim weather, shifty public officials and a succession of Chan ...more
Dec 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
I never read mysteries, but after reading this one by Benjamin Black (aka John Banville), I could change my mind. I associate mysteries with being relentlessly plot-driven, and yet this one seemed as interested in the development of the (interesting) characters. I thought that it was really well written and didn't race along at breakneck speed, but pondered and explored characters' lives and personalities.
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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

Other books in the series

Quirke (7 books)
  • Christine Falls (Quirke, #1)
  • The Silver Swan (Quirke, #2)
  • A Death in Summer (Quirke, #4)
  • Vengeance (Quirke, #5)
  • Holy Orders (Quirke, #6)
  • Even the Dead (Quirke, #7)

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