by John Banville
It is 1957 in County Wexford, Ireland. The Catholic Church rules every facet of the country. Detective Inspector St. John Strafford is called to the aristocratic home of the Osborne family where a parish priest has been found dead. Strafford meets obstruction to his investigation at every turn as the “powers that be” attempt to sweep this murder under the carpet.
The manner of the priest’s death immediately had me determine the “why” of the murder, and the “who” followed shortly thereafter. I expected much more than the story that has played out so many times before in both real life and in fiction than what Banville hands us here.
The graphic and deeply disturbing description of certain events was, to me, completely unnecessary to the plot development. There were enough hints as to what had taken place without the need for such vivid descriptions.
I found Strafford a rather ambivalent character and as a result just did not find him believable. He was as disappointing as a DI as was the novel as a mystery. I expected more from this Booker Prize winning author.