Book Review: John Banville’s ‘April in Spain’ is a Miserable, Wonderful Mystery | Art

April in Spain

April in Spain


To the delight of their fans, acclaimed crime writers occasionally hire two popular detectives from separate series in a collaboration.

Among them are PD James (Adam Dalgliesh with Cordelia Gray) and John Sandford (Lucas Davenport with Virgil Flowers).

Enter John Banville, whose “April in Spain” pairs the strait-laced Irish detective Inspector St. John (pronounced sinjun) Strafford, who made his debut in last year’s “Snow” with the temperamental government pathologist Garret Quirke, in focus for seven previous novels. written by Benjamin Black (a pseudonym Banville has left).

A sequel to Black’s 2003 “Elegy for April”, Banville’s latest opens with Quirke on holiday in Spain with his psychiatrist wife, Evelyn. He sees a woman who looks familiar – but who he can not immediately place. Soon, however, the face registers: doctor April Latimer, a friend of his daughter, Phoebe Griffin.

Quirke believes April is dead. Her brother, obstetrician Oscar Latimer, confessed to killing her before taking his own life. Brother and sister had been sexually abused by their father, Conor Latimer, a well-known cardiologist who, like his son, committed suicide.

But April’s body has not been found.

With intricate circumstances at play – Phoebe’s boyfriend, Paul Viertel, is Evelyn’s nephew, and Conor’s brother, William Latimer, is Ireland’s defense minister – Quirke asks Phoebe to travel to Spain to see if the woman who calls herself Dr. Angela Lawless, really April is Latimer. A senior police officer makes sure that Strafford, who occupies a secondary role compared to Quirke’s prominent role in the story, accompanies Phoebe to Spain.


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