John Banville is an established Irish writer of both criminal and general fiction.
This novel is a blend of the two.
The story is of the Eire State Pathologist John Quirke going on holiday with his Austrian psychoanalyst wife Evelyn to San Sebastián.
There, by chance, he recognised April, a friend of his niece Phoebe, who was assumed to have died. The parallel story is of a violent young psychopath of a professional hitman Terry Tice who is contracted to kill April.
They say – and indeed Banville does so – that you “can take the man out of the country, but not the country out of the man”.
Thus Dublin, child abuse and the Catholic church all feature strongly in the novel.
Banville has the Irish gift of being a wordsmith.
Both San Sebastián and Dublin are graphically described and most of the characters are well fleshed out.
The plot is sometimes improbable but it’s always a good read.