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When the body of his daughter's friend is brought to his autopsy table, Quirke is plunged into a world of corruption that takes him to the darkest corners of the Irish Church and State.
"At first they thought it was the body of a child. Later, when they got it out of the water and saw the pubic hair and the nicotine stains on the fingers, they realized their mistake."
So begins Holy Orders, the latest Quirke case set in Dublin at a moment when newspapers are censored, social conventions are strictly defined, and appalling crimes are hushed up. Why? Because in 1950s Ireland the Catholic Church controls the lives of nearly everyone. But when Quirke's daughter Phoebe loses her close friend Jimmy Minor to murder, Quirke can no longer play by the Church's rules. Along with Inspector Hackett, his sometime partner, Quirke investigates Jimmy's death and learns just how far the Church and its supporters will go to protect their own interests.
Haunting, fierce, and brilliantly plotted, this is Benjamin Black writing at the top of his form. His inimitable creation, the endlessly curious Quirke, brings a pathologist's unique understanding of death to unlock the most dangerous of secrets.
"Love was love, and always demanded more than a lover was capable of giving." The profound melancholy of that sentiment permeates Black's sixth Quirke novel set in 1950s Ireland (after 2012's Vengeance). The discovery of the badly beaten body of journalist Jimmy Minor, a friend of Quirke's daughter Phoebe, in a Dublin canal presents the pathologist with a highly personal case. Quirke, for whom happiness is one of "those words the meaning of which he could never quite grasp," and his friend on the force, Inspector Hackett, follow a trail that brings them into conflict with the Catholic Church. The solid detecting, as the doctor and the detective try to figure out what story Minor was pursuing that may have led to his death, will keep readers engaged, but the book's power stems from its multifaceted lead. Black is the pen name for Man Booker Prize winner John Banville.