This review may (or may not) contain spoilers.
Richard Jewell, a newspaper magnate, is found in his study with his face blown of. Although at first it appears to be a straightforward case of suicide, neither Quirke nor Inspector Hackett is convinced and the two men proceed on an investigation. At first their digging and questioning doesn’t appear to clarify anything. But before long a dark and sinister picture starts to emerge. A picture including a seductive French widow, her disturbed sister in law and St. Christopher’s Orphanage, a notorious place where Quirke himself spend some time as a child.
As with the previous books in this series, Benjamin Black paints a very dark picture of Dublin in the 1950’s. It is a place where who you know and what your standing is counts for much more than what you are up to and what the consequences of your actions may be.
The writing style, the characters and the things they do, think and say all contribute to the gloomy vibrations coming of the pages in this book. It is a world where the guilty may not be punished and the innocent have no protection.
Dublin in these books feels more like a small town than a capital city, a place where everybody is somehow connected to everybody else and secrets are hard to keep.
However, the most shocking thing about this book probably is that the reader knows that the crimes which are so shockingly described in these pages went on for a long time after the fifties, as did the cover-ups.
This is not an easy story to read, but it is well told. It is also a story that needs to be told and is very current, despite its historical setting.