Tuesday, March 09, 2010

BOOK REVIEW: The Silver Swan by Benjamin Black

Title: The Silver Swan
Author: Benjamin Black
Publisher: Picador
Year: 2009
A LibraryThing Early Reviewers book

The Silver Swan is a follow up to Christine Falls and features Garrett Quirke, a pathologist who just can't resist investigating a mystery; in this case, a suicide which turns out to be a murder. Benjamin Black (a pseudonym for John Banville) uses a noir structure in The Silver Swan to probe the human psyche. This probing of the darker areas of human activity and the human soul does not make for a very uplifting read, but that should be expected when dealing with the noir genre. The Silver Swan is full of typical noir elements: cynical characters, bleak settings, and a sense of hopelessness. I'm not a big fan of noir due to these elements and I'm sure this affected my enjoyment of both Christine Falls and The Silver Swan. In spite of my lack of enjoyment, it is clear that Black/Banville is a fantastic writer. I enjoyed his use of metaphor, and the ability to evoke such a strong emotional reaction left me in awe of his skill. I look forward to reading those works of his outside of the noir genre.

I would like to thank the publisher, Picador, for providing me with a review copy of The Silver Swan.


  1. I can definitely see what you mean about noir. It's not for everyone, that's for sure.

  2. I don't think I've read a truly noir story so I will keep this in mind when I'm in the mood for one. Thanks for the review, Terri!

  3. I've read one of Banville's novels, and I'm curious about his mystery stuff, but I'm not really a noir kind of girl. Dilemma!

  4. Thank you for your great review, Terri. I know you didn't quite enjoy this one, but your review has me more eager to dive into both this and the earlier book in the series. I love noir though. :-) It is a bit of acquired taste. It's not for everyone.