*SHORTLISTED FOR THE CWA HISTORICAL DAGGER AWARD*
A Globe and Mail Best Book of the Year
A New York Times Editors’ Choice Pick
“Banville sets up and then deftly demolishes the Agatha Christie format…superbly rich and sophisticated.”—New York Times Book Review
The incomparable Booker Prize winner’s next great crime novel—the story of a family whose secrets resurface when a parish priest is found murdered in their ancestral home
Detective Inspector St. John Strafford has been summoned to County Wexford to investigate a murder. A parish priest has been found dead in Ballyglass House, the family seat of the aristocratic, secretive Osborne family.
The year is 1957 and the Catholic Church rules Ireland with an iron fist. Strafford—flinty, visibly Protestant and determined to identify the murderer—faces obstruction at every turn, from the heavily accumulating snow to the culture of silence in the tight-knit community he begins to investigate.
As he delves further, he learns the Osbornes are not at all what they seem. And when his own deputy goes missing, Strafford must work to unravel the ever-expanding mystery before the community’s secrets, like the snowfall itself, threaten to obliterate everything.
Beautifully crafted, darkly evocative and pulsing with suspense, Snow is “the Irish master” (New Yorker) John Banville at his page-turning best.
Don't miss John Banville's next novel, The Lock-up!
Other riveting mysteries from John Banville: April in Spain
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
We found the latest novel by the great Irish writer John Banville as juicy and delicious as a meal prepared by a master chef. The story’s set in 1957 in the cavernous family estate of an Anglo-Irish family, where the body of a Catholic priest is found gruesomely murdered and castrated. Banville gleefully riffs on the Agatha Christie model. The house belongs to a Colonel Osborne and his secretive family, the murder takes place in the library, candlesticks are found near the body—even the protagonist, Detective Inspector St. John Strafford, seems aware of the absurd similarity to a classic mystery. While it’s all done with an affectionate wink, Snow is an extremely dark tale that examines an Ireland still buried under a heavy cloak of Catholic–Protestant tension. It’s a gripping, entertaining read.
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.
A good read
I enjoyed the descriptions of the family and The sense of place. I did notice a few details discrepancies that careful editing would have caught - I didn’t quite see the point of one character’s flat head(pun)
Beautifully done mystery
This is a traditional murder at the isolated house with a twist, the house is in Ireland and the victim a Catholic priest.