Sunday 7 February 2021


Finished February 4
Snow by John Banville

This is the first book in a series, that is also related to another series by the author that he published under the pseudonym Benjamin Black. Here, the main character is a detective inspector with the Garda, the Irish police, and the time is late in 1957. The book begins just a few days before Christmas.
At the manor house Ballyglass, near the village of , in the county of Wexford, a priest is murdered one night. His is discovered by the woman of the house who often wanders in the night, and with the local officer under the weather, DI John Strafford is called in. Like the house owners, Strafford is Protestant, but the priest is Catholic as are most of the people who live in the area. 
The woman of the house, the second wife of the owner, Mr. Osborne is unreliable and often medicated. Osborne and his two teenage children all claim to be sound sleepers who heard nothing. The staff in the house live out, and there seems to be no forced entry. As Strafford delves in the lives of these people, and into the past of the priest, he must also look at his own life and his lack of direction, as well as deal with the power of the church, which is strong in this country. The church, it's history of coverups and abuse have a major role in this story, as they do in reality in many stories. 
The weather plays a role in the book as well, as one can guess from the title. Strafford is woefully unprepared, having only shoes and a thin coat, and he is often borrowing pieces of clothing, offered or not to venture out into the snowy landscape. The weather also affects the actions of others, from the priest staying over at the Osborne's due to the weather, to the delay in assistance arriving.
There are interesting elements of sexuality that also come up several times in the book. 
As always Banville's writing is wonderful, and this story develops slowly, with a few red herrings thrown in for the reader to consider, and a few clues that seem to lie dormant before being followed.
Strafford is an interesting character, who seems to have trouble focusing, and doesn't seem to take notes during his interviews and so loses track of what he knows. It will be interesting to see how he develops in future books.


  1. This title is on my TBR list and it sounds like I should move it closer to the top. Thanks for sharing your thoughts about it!

    1. If you've read the Quirke novels which he wrote under the pseudonym Benjamin Black, this one is in the same line. Quirke is mentioned here, but never is present. He is away on his honeymoon apparently. But I would expect that he might appear in future books in this series