cover image A Death in Summer

A Death in Summer

Benjamin Black. Holt, $25 (336p) ISBN 978-0-8050-9092-5

Black's flat fourth crime novel set in 1950s Ireland (after Elegy for April) takes Dublin pathologist Quirke to Brook-lands, the country estate of newspaper baron Richard "Diamond Dick" Jewell, whose nearly headless body is found one summer afternoon in his office above the stables. Jewell appears to have blown his head off with the shotgun still in his hand, but Quirke suspects foul play. Jewell's beautiful widow, Fran%C3%A7oise d'Aubigny, who flatters Quirke by remembering their previous brief meeting a year before, suggests that a feud was brewing between Jewell and another rich Dubliner, Carlton Sumner. Quirke unearths a connection between Jewell and St. Christopher's, an orphanage where he himself briefly lived. When threatening phone calls escalate into violence, Quirke must watch his back. The failure of Black (the pen name of Booker-winner John Banville) to make much of the demise of such a powerful figure and Quirke's unlikely attraction to the dead man's wife help make this Black's weakest effort yet. (July)