The Silver Swan (Magill's Literary Annual 2009)
The Silver Swan by Benjamin Black begins in the middle of things with the protagonist, Quirke, puzzling over a note from someone who seems vaguely familiar but whom he does not recall until they meet in a bar. Billy Hunt, a former athletic classmate, informs Quirke, a Dublin pathologist, that his wife has drowned, and Billy pleads that her beautiful body not be disfigured by an autopsy. Quirke reluctantly agrees, only to renege on the promise when he finds a tiny puncture wound on her arm.
At an inquest, Quirke insists that the cause of death was drowning, though he harbors suspicions and spends the rest of the novel learning more than he expected about a host of lives and uncovering the sad truth about Deirdre Hunt’s life and death. His investigation uncovers exploitation, blackmail, drug use, and murder, and his primary motivation has less to do with issues of legality or justice than with simple curiosity and protectiveness.
The novel assumes a knowledge of characters and situations that transpired in the first Black mystery, Christine Falls (2007), with these events occurring about two years later. Quirke has lost his wife, has remained thoroughly alienated from a daughter he abandoned in childhood, and has betrayed his adoptive father, a judge, who has hidden behind his office. Additionally, although Quirke has given up the drink, he must continually struggle with alcoholic urges that haunt him, just as the novel’s...
(The entire section is 1598 words.)
Want to Read More?
Subscribe now to read the rest of this article. Plus get complete access to 30,000+ study guides!
Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 2009)
Booklist 104, no. 11 (February 1, 2008): 32.
The Boston Globe, March 10, 2008, p. C6.
The Christian Science Monitor, March 28, 2008, p. 14.
Houston Chronicle, March 20, 2008, p. 1.
Kirkus Reviews 75, no. 24 (December 15, 2007): 1254.
Library Journal 133, no. 2 (February 1, 2008): 51.
Los Angeles Times, March 5, 2008, p. E1.
The New York Times Book Review, April 20, 2008, p. 17.
Publishers Weekly 255, no. 1 (January 7, 2008): 36.
Sunday Times, November 18, 2007, p. 20.
The Times Literary Supplement, November 23, 2007, p. 21.
(The entire section is 55 words.)