The title is what caught my attention. I thought it would be interesting to read books with winter or winter-ish titles during this winter. I also thought this sounded like a potential series, and I have been looking for a new series. I knew the author only from trying, and failing, with his book The Sea. I decided to give this one a try.
Local squire, Colonel Osborne’s first wife died falling down the stairs. Now a local priest has died by the same method. Unfortunately, someone also took umbrage with the cleric’s proclivities and castrated him as well. The cast of characters includes the dissolute son, the obnoxious daughter, the much younger, baffling second wife, an odd young man who looks after the horses and more. Who would want to kill “Father Tom,” son of a hero of the Irish Civil War. Then onne of the detectives who comes along to the Big House to investigate disappears. The mystery has a mystery within it. Can the narrative be trusted? Several of the characters are likely suspects.
But this is not a Hercule Poirot or Miss Marple mystery like the publisher has sold it to readers. This veers off the G rating to beyond an X rating.
Until, late in the book, I hit the chapter “The Interlude,” [Spoiler alert] in which a character tells about and tries to justify his sexual abuse of a young boy, I was enjoying the book. I admit I fast-forwarded the audio after I got into “The Interlude” and kept going to the end of the book. By that point, I had easily worked out that character’s secret and had picked the most likely suspect. But the damage was done. “The Interlude” won’t leave me. Brain bleach is strong enough.
I do not want to use the phrase “in spite of this” for I do not think child molestation is a topic to be celebrated in fiction. Nonetheless, the rest of the book was pretty standard mystery stuff. It is unfortunate that the author once again decided to make such a showcase for child molestation–the very reason I threw The Sea back. Had I remembered why I threw back The Sea I’d have saved myself this trauma. If child sex abuse is all this author writes about then I will not be trying another title by him. The publisher deserves all sorts of criticism for mislabeling this book as sort of an Agatha Christie. Deceptive marketing at its worst. Had I bought this book, I’d have demanded a full refund for the deceptive description of the story.
A horrible topic in a the last book read in a horrible year.
Snow: A Novel by John Banville is on sale for $2.99 for Kindle.
1 Star due to the child molestation.
I’d give it a zero, but the Interlude came near the end of the book and, after skipping most of it, I listened until the end of the book. Had the “Interlude” chapter with the molestation not been in the book I would have given it a higher rating–3 stars.