cover image Snow


John Banville. Hanover Square, $27.99 (280p) ISBN 978-1-335230-00-3

Affecting prose and depth of characterization largely compensate for the predictable plot of this whodunit set in 1957 Ireland from Booker Prize winner Banville (The Secret Guests). One snowy day, Det. Insp. St. John Strafford arrives at the house of Colonel Osborne in County Wexford to investigate the murder of an overnight guest, Fr. Tom Lawless. That morning, the colonel’s wife found Lawless on the library floor; he’d been stabbed in the neck and castrated. Strafford is dismayed to see how neatly the body is laid out with its hands clasped, and the colonel admits that he and at least one other member of his household did some tidying up. Strafford is later struck that, despite statements of affection for the Catholic priest, “No one was crying.” Pressure from the archbishop of Dublin leads the death to be reported publicly as an accident. Strafford’s inquiry follows standard lines, and the various reveals won’t surprise genre fans. This is not one of Banville’s best. Agent: Andrew Wylie, Wylie Agency. (Oct.)