TITLE: ELEGY FOR APRIL
AUTHOR: BENJAMIN BLACK
Details: no. 3 Quirke Mystery
These mysteries, set in Dublin in the 1950's, are dark. Nobody appears to be having fun and Dublin's fair city comes across as gloomy. However, that is probably an accurate portrait of the city at the time. Rationing after WW II was not completely lifted yet and Ireland had only been an independent republic for about 30 years. The economy was struggling, jobs were scarce and progress seemed a distant dream.
It is in this atmosphere that the story is set. Quirke has spend some time in an drying out institute and has just decided to check himself out when his daughter comes looking for is help. Phoebe's friend April has been missing for about two weeks, and Phoebe is worried about her.
Reluctantly Quirke agrees to help Phoebe, but they soon find themselves facing April's family who are powerful players in the city with government connections and who don't want the girl's disappearance either made public or investigated. This attitude however does not stop Quirke or his daughter and with the help of Garda Inspector Hackett, they continue to investigate.
During the process Phoebe discovers that she didn't know her friend as well as she thought she did, and that the other members of the group she and April were part of are not quite what she thought they were either. Quirke finds himself up against the demon drink again, and not quite winning the battle.
For a long time it looks as if they will never find out why April disappeared, where she went or even if she's still alive. And when they do get to the bottom of the case it shows a very dark side to human nature and leads to a dramatic conclusion.
While this is a rather dark story, it is also a very well written book. The language is beautiful and depicts the gloom of Dublin City in all it's glory to such an extend that the reader can feel the cold and the fog. The mystery is very well plotted and the solution as credible as it is shocking.
I couldn't read several of the books in this series in quick succession. But at the rate of one book every year or so, this series works well for me.