Cover Image: April in Spain

April in Spain

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Member Reviews

DNF

This might be a case of, It's not the book, it's me.

When I requested this book on NetGalley, I didn't realize it was part of an ongoing series. There's enough detail at the beginning  to acclimate readers, so I adjusted to that part quickly.

What totally threw me off is that there's nothing in this book's description indicating it's historical fiction. I was so confused. Finally, I went on Goodreads and checked the first book's description, which places the series in the 1950s.

I finally settled in, but nothing clicked for me. I was bored with the characters and the plot. My policy this year is not to force myself to read books I'm not enjoying, so I gave up.
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Ahh man, I had so much hope for this to be a solid and creepy thriller. Unfortunately there wasn’t anything creepy in my opinion and I would’ve liked a bit more.
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A thank you to Netgalley for sharing the ARC in exchange of an honest review. 

Oops. I made a mistake (it happens) when I requested this ARC. While some say that the book can also be considered the sequal to Snow (which I read and loved, which I why I requested the ARC) it's actually a later installment of the author's more longstanding Quirk series - one that I had been unfamiliar with until now and albeit, it's hard for me to review it. The writing is strong and I particularly enjoyed the setting, snippets of history, and atmospheric tension, but the characters themselves remained a bit of a mystery. I attibute this, at least partially to the fact that I don't think that the Quirk series is one that can be read unsequentially and that doing so would enrich reader experience.
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I was disappointed in this Banville mystery. It lacked depth, but had interesting characters. When retired Dublin pathologist, Quirke, goes on holiday in Spain with his wife, Evelyn, a psychologist, he sees a woman he thought had died. This opens a can of worms back in Dublin as it is related to some shady dealings of one of the government ministers. I felt the story lacked development although the ending was a total surprise.
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John Banville has written at least six books in the Quirke, Dublin set, dark(ish) mystery series. The stories are set in the 1950s. For those who are looking for the older entries, they were published under the name Benjamin Black.

April in Spain hearkens back to an earlier case. That story was told in Elegy for April. Now, while on vacation, Quirke thinks that he spots April. Can it be her? What could this mean?

This book may be most enjoyed by those who remember April. As it true for other titles in the series, it is not a happy story. Still, those who like a Dublin (Spain) noir may want to give this one a read.

Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher. All opinions are my own.
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The book opened with a chapter about a hit man,  his background and how much he liked killing people.  I thought to myself, very interesting,beginning! 

    Then the book switches to a pathologist Quirke who is on vacation in Spain.   Rather slow moving,  even though this is the eighth Quirke book in this series.   This book switches back and forth between Quirke, Terry and St. John Stratford, a third character who has a series of his own.    It makes me wish I could go back in time to read the previous books in these two series.
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Very slow read.  Just seems to drag.  Just not my kind of book.  Very sad ending and storyline.  I kept reading hoping it would get better - and it did in the last 3 chapters.
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Set in Dublin and Spain in the 1950s, this latest in the Quirke series sees the pathologist on a vacation (against his will) with his wife Evelyn until he meets April, a young physician who bears a striking resemblance to Angela, who was murdered in Dublin by her brother four years earlier.  Or was she?  That's the conceit and when Quirke reaches out to home, he sets a series of things in motion, not the least of which is the arrival in San Sebastian of DI St John Strafford.  And a killer.  Banville does a good job of providing background for those who, like me, have a spotty history with the series.  This is very much a character driven tale with good period atmospherics.  It's not slow, exactly, but it's not a headlong race for answers either.  Thanks to the publisher for the ARC.  This one is for Banville's fans.
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I received an ARC of this novel from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. 

There were interesting portions, but the novel in whole was a struggle.
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In this noir series set in 1950’s Dublin, state pathologist Quirke finally finds happiness rather late in life in his marriage to Evelyn, an Austrian psychiatrist who puts up with his lugubrious outlook on life. While on a spring holiday in San Sebastian, Spain, Quirke is convinced he has met his daughter Phoebe’s friend April Latimer, thought to have been murdered years earlier. Quirke urges Phoebe to join him and Evelyn in Spain and to verify that it is, indeed, April who lives there under an assumed name. The problem is that powerful people in high places in Dublin don’t want April to be found, so a hit man is dispatched to do her in.

This is the 8th book in the Quirke series, and the third one in which Banville’s more recent creation Dublin Garda detective St. John Strafford appears. In many ways, the two men are opposites— Quirke is part of a powerful R.C clan that controls much of Dublin’s political world, while Strafford is scion of an Anglo-Irish landed gentry class. Unsurprisingly, they take an immediate dislike to each other when they finally meet. And yet, in many ways, they are similar. Both are loners, outcasts from their respective tribes. Both have a talent for solving crimes, and both are men women find attractive in ways that bemuse their peers. And, with Strafford’s unacknowledged attraction to Phoebe, it looks like their paths will continue to cross in future novels, as painful as that may be for Quirke. Highly recommended. Thanks to the publisher for providing an ARC via NetGalley.
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This was  slow in the beginning, but once it got going, it was a well written, enjoyable read.  Character development is strong, although may of them are flawed… atmospheric with Insight into some Irish history and culture 

Set primarily in San Sebastián during the era of Franco,  a good sense of time and place is created.
More literary fiction than thriller, this  is the eighth in a series, but the first one I have read.  It works well as a stand alone.
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Last year, I read and reviewed Snow by John Banville, and it was a solid five-star read for me. In fact, I said “I need to read more John Banville books!” So I was happy to receive April in Spain from Harlequin/Hanover Square Press and NetGalley in exchange for this honest review. 

The protagonist, Quirke, is a pathologist from Dublin who is in Spain on holiday with his psychiatrist wife Evelyn, when he happens to see his daughter Phoebe’s friend April who was presumed to have been murdered by her own brother. (whew) When Quirke contacts Phoebe back in Dublin, she decides to go to Spain and is accompanied by an inspector who is there to “aid” her. Then there is Terry, a hitman. Sounds promising, but here’s the thing: NOTHING HAPPENS for a looooong time. I confess that at about 40% I started skimming, and I’m not proud of the amount of attention I gave it…but it just didn’t do it for me. 

Banville is an outstanding writer, and he is great at developing both setting and character — but you have to be REALLY patient or just one of those readers who likes to savor a well-written story. The ending was a surprise, which is generally the case for me — and Quirke’s story is unfinished at the end, presumably to set the stage for more about him. Three stars, but only that low because of the pace, which was a bit slow for me, OK, it was WAAAAAY slow for me. I will still go for his next book, because he is SUCH a good writer, but hope either it moves along much faster or I develop more patience by then.
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Interesting characters draw you into this slow paced novel. You always get the feeling of creepy secrets lurking within and are compelled to uncover them. The novel slides around them in and out winding up with a surprising ending. Enjoyable read.
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This book gave me a old time Hitchcockian noir vibe. Set in Italy after the war and full of interesting well developed characters. Our protagonist was flawed, sad and unsympathetic at times, but his did not distract from the story.
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Updated review: This book has landed in the did not finish pile though I did make it to 52%; five days in, there is far too little actually happening for my taste. If you are looking for a book to lull you to sleep before bed, give this one a try. It's not bad, just very, very slow. 
Original review:
 I generally like Banville's novels but this one is mired down in tedious detail until about 25%. Geeze. Why did he spend so much time 'setting the stage'? Once we finally get to the emergency room, things started to pick up and we (may) get to the point. If it still drags on, I give up and will mark this a DNF.
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This is my first "Quirke" book. Quirke is a Dublin pathologist vacationing in San Sebastian, Spain with his wife, Evelyn, a psychiatrist.  (I really liked her character)  Quirke is trying to relax when he spots a familiar face- his daughter's friend April who is presumed murdered by her own brother.  Quirke contacts his daughter  Phoebe who then contacts her connections. Phoebe decides to go to Spain and an inspector is sent to "aid" her.  The plot also turns to our hitman, Terry.  Though I appreciate the author spending time for us to get to know this character- it just went on too long at times.  This book was a very slow read. I almost gave up several times.  In the end, there was a surprise at least for me regarding the motive that I don't want to reveal. The ending felt unfinished but maybe that is because Quirke's story still needs to be told.
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April in Spain is an interesting mystery involving many topics from incest to supplying arms and ammunition to the IRA but much of the book involves description and background of the characters and not much suspense and excitement. It was not one of my favorites.
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I  was a bit surprised to see the latest Quirke novel published under the author's real name, rather than the pseudonym  (Benjamin Black) he has used for the rest of the series.  I'm a long-time fan of the somewhat difficult character Quirke, as well as of Mr. Banville's writing as a whole. In a world of potboilers and "best sellers" that are poorly written and edited, it is such a pleasure to a find good, solid, well-written novel, especially genre fiction (as this is listed as a mystery, a genre which has, sadly, much degenerated over time).

The story itself unfolds like a slow-motion train wreck, from the time Quirke thinks he recognizes a young doctor in Spain to the (to me, at least) heartbreaking denouement. Many thanks to Hanover Square Press and NetGalley for the opportunity to read the eARC.
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Quirke, the Irish pathologist, and his wife Evelyn, a psychiatrist, are on holiday in Spain. As with Banville's novel Snow, this one is very atmospheric, only it's a sunny seaside vibe contrasting with Quirke's saturnine personality. This is dark, like his previous novels, but moves very slowly--the first third of the novel described the holiday in Spain. The pathologist, wonders if Angela, a young doctor in Spain, is really his daughter's friend April, who was reported murdered by her now deceased brother four years ago; he calls Phoebe to come to Spain to see what she thinks, The characters do things that seem baffling, like Quirke inviting an ER doctor, who is obviously not interested, out for dinner, and Phoebe going to a powerful politician with information that will prove lethal.  Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the ARC.
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April in Spain is the first John Banville/Benjamin Black book I have read. I am not sure how I feel about the book. I didn't really like any of the characters and the plot was very dark and twisted. Yet, despite all that, I was compelled to keep reading. I believe the book will stay with me for a long time . I'm not sure why.
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