'Outstanding.' Irish Independent
'Exquisite.' Daily Mail
'Hypnotic.' Financial Times
'This is crime fiction for the connoisseur.' The Times
'The body is in the library,' Colonel Osborne said. 'Come this way.'
Detective Inspector St John Strafford is called in from Dublin to investigate a murder at Ballyglass House - the Co. Wexford family seat of the aristocratic, secretive Osborne family.
Facing obstruction from all angles, Strafford carries on determinedly in his pursuit of the murderer. However, as the snow continues to fall over this ever-expanding mystery, the people of Ballyglass are equally determined to keep their secrets.
'A typically elegant country house mystery.' Guardian
'A well-crafted story, peopled by superbly well-drawn characters, and put together in the finest prose . . . Masterly.' Irish Independent
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\n 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.