Quorren’s #CBR4 Review #48 The Silver Swan by Benjamin Black
Rocky Mountain News compares this book to Guinness – dark and Irish. I would add another descriptor, which hopefully won’t offend beer snobs or the Irish, and that would be bitter. Quirke, our anti-hero detective, is crippled emotionally and physically and doesn’t have, what one would call, a sunny disposition. Unlike Chandler’s Philip Marlowe, Quirke’s alcoholism is more A&E’s Intervention than AMC’s Mad Men. The events of Christine Falls has also taken a toll on Quirke’s health as well.
The Silver Swan takes place about a year after the events in Christine Falls. Quirke is still a pathologist in 1950’s Ireland. His family is in ruin and he’s pretty much to blame, which leaves him with even more self-loathing than in the previous book. Quirke is contacted by a school acquaintance, whose wife, Laura Swan, appears to have committed suicide recently. The acquaintance asks Quirke to forgo an autopsy to save his wife a shread of dignity. Quirke takes this as redemption for his actions in Christine Falls; before he spoke out about something and ruined many lives, now he has a chance to just keep his mouth shut. Unfortunately, his curiosity gets the better of him.
I highly recommend reading Christine Falls before this book. A lot of Quirke personal drama begins in the first book and is carried over to the second. It also figures heavily into the plot, so you’ll be quite lost without the background. I had read Christine Falls a few years ago and even I was a bit clueless during the first several chapters of this book.