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April in Spain


April in Spain

From the very first sentence, “Terry Tice liked killing people,” APRIL IN SPAIN is off like a shot and running full tilt. Readers are instantly filled with a keen sense of intrigue and quickly left wondering who Terry Tice might go after next. He’s a nasty little man just looking for trouble. Odds are, he’ll find it. Perhaps in Spain.

Dr. Quirke, a noted Dublin pathologist (with something of a reputation when it comes to fondness for the drink), has been persuaded to take a trip by his wife, Evelyn. She’s working to reform him in several ways, the imbibing of booze being one, and he’s making honest strides in at least that area. So she suggests visiting the picturesque Spanish coastal town of San Sebastian. She knows the place; her husband will be able to relax there if he will give it a chance. Quirke, who has no great love for normal enjoyments, grudgingly agrees.

"Booker Prize-winning author John Banville captures the Irish spirit in his tone and characters, all of whom are fully fleshed out.... [T]he bone-chilling race to stay alive in APRIL IN SPAIN will keep your heart thumping."

While giving the vacation a lackluster effort, Quirke spots a woman who strikes him as familiar. No, actually, he’s certain he’s seen her before. But then he realizes who it is, and that instills in him some serious doubts. Was he drunk? It couldn’t be April Latimer. April died by her brother’s hand. However, the closer Quirke looks, the more convinced he becomes. It definitely is April; his daughter, Phoebe, introduced them once.

Finally, the suspense becomes too much for Quirke, so he calls Phoebe. Maybe he shouldn’t have; maybe he’d had too much of the Jameson. Phoebe, back in Ireland, wonders the same thing. And she shrugs off the notion that the woman Quirke saw was her old friend. If she was still alive, why wouldn’t she have contacted anyone? No, her brother killed her; that’s all there is to it. Right? Or, if she had tried to disappear, surely she had good reason. Maybe it was to escape her family. The Latimers wield a lot of power in Dublin, and there was that awful rumor about some scandalous domestic goings-on. Phoebe wouldn’t blame April for running away if half of what she’d heard was true. Once the seed of doubt has been planted, Phoebe knows she won’t rest until she finds out the truth. Besides, April in Spain sounds rather inviting.

This story takes place during a time when young women don’t travel solo without raising eyebrows; there are proprieties to be observed. So when Phoebe leaves for San Sebastian, Detective St. John Strafford accompanies her. Naturally, this does not please Quirke, but then little does. Placed in this uncomfortable situation, Strafford merely wishes to do his job. Phoebe, faced with the reality of her father’s moods, regrets her rash decision to come to Spain. Since she’s here, though, she can think of no reason not to see if the woman is truly April. Then she and Strafford can leave Quirke and Evelyn to their holiday. Meanwhile, back in Dublin, other people are growing nervous. Could April still be alive? If so, she could cause a lot of trouble.

Booker Prize-winning author John Banville captures the Irish spirit in his tone and characters, all of whom are fully fleshed out. And his descriptions flourish like few authors’ can. When Banville leads a reader into a room, it comes alive with atmosphere, color and texture. The same thing happens with a charming town like San Sebastian; the feel of the sand, the sea mist and the warm Spanish nights are all brought to life. So how about an escape to a lovely seaside village? That sounds perfect right about now, doesn’t it? Besides, the bone-chilling race to stay alive in APRIL IN SPAIN will keep your heart thumping.

Reviewed by Kate Ayers on October 29, 2021

April in Spain
by John Banville

  • Publication Date: September 6, 2022
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery
  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Hanover Square Press
  • ISBN-10: 1335475095
  • ISBN-13: 9781335475091