A suspicious death, a pregnant woman suddenly gone missing: Quirke’s latest case leads him inexorably toward the dark machinations of an old foe
Perhaps Quirke has been down among the dead too long. Lately the Irish pathologist has suffered hallucinations and blackouts, and he fears the cause is a brain tumor. A specialist diagnoses an old head injury caused by a savage beating; all that’s needed, the doctor declares, is an extended rest. But Quirke, ever intent on finding his place among the living, is not about to retire.
One night during a June heat wave, a car crashes into a tree in central Dublin and bursts into flames. The police assume the driver’s death was either an accident or a suicide, but Quirke’s examination of the body leads him to believe otherwise. Then his daughter Phoebe gets a mysterious visit from an acquaintance: the woman, who admits to being pregnant, says she fears for her life, though she won’t say why. When the woman later disappears, Phoebe asks her father for help, and Quirke in turn seeks the assistance of his old friend Inspector Hackett. Before long the two men find themselves untangling a twisted string of events that takes them deep into a shadowy world where one of the city’s most powerful men uses the cover of politics and religion to make obscene profits.
Even the Dead is the 5th novel in the Quirke series by Benjamin Black. It’s slick and atmospheric in its depiction of Dublin, and has a solid storyline that slowly builds. The novel unravels the mystery surrounding the car crash and a woman who says her life is in danger but won’t explain why or how. I haven’t read any of the others from this series so may be missing out on crucial information because of this- there was quite a lot of information that seemed to link back to previous books, and which I didn’t quite get the relevance of.
However, I still felt that Even the Dead is very well-written and descriptive, leaving you with a vivid picture of Dublin’s streets and its alleys where Quirke and his colleagues- and criminals- roam. Quirke himself was a character easy to imagine- a bit jaded and determined, much like other well-known Detectives, but still family-focussed when it comes to his daughter, for example.
I think the issue for me with this novel was that it was quite slow at times, and I felt my attention wandering which affected my enjoyment of it overall. Quite simply, I just wasn’t dying to find out who did what. At times it almost felt like there was too many different storylines, each with multiple characters, going on and some characters just didn’t interest me enough to want to read about them. As the novel goes on we learn that various cases are linked, but despite this I just wasn’t pulled in to this story like I often am with other crime. As I mentioned, this might have something to do with not having read previous books, but I often start further along a series and this isn’t always an issue.
I’m aware that I’m no doubt in the minority, especially looking at other very high reviews for this novel, and can’t deny that overall this is definitely well-written and worth a read for those who may have read other books in this series, but it just didn’t do it for me.
* Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing a copy of this novel in return for an honest review *
Have you read any of this series? If so, what did you think?