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A Death in Summer    by Benjamin Black order for
Death in Summer
by Benjamin Black
Order:  USA  Can
Macmillan Audio, 2011 (2011)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book

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* *   Reviewed by Rheta Van Winkle

A Death in Summer is the fourth mystery in a series about Dublin pathologist Quirke, written by Benjamin Black (the pen name of Booker Award winning novelist John Banville). The story begins with Detective Inspector Hackett and Quirke being called to the rural estate of a wealthy, prominent member of Dublin society. There they find the owner dead, with his head blown off by a shotgun blast. They realize right away from the position of the shotgun that Richard 'Diamond Dick' Jewell could not have shot himself, and begin the difficult process of determining who shot him by interviewing his wife Francoise and sister Dannie.

The scene of the death is vividly described, but Francoise seems coolly detached as she answers their questions, even though she admits to having seen her dead husband. Dannie, on the other hand, seems distraught by the violent death of her brother. As the plot unfolds, we learn that Dannie is an old friend of Quirke's assistant, David Sinclair, and that Sinclair is becoming romantically involved with Quirke's daughter Phoebe. Dannie has serious emotional problems and the habit of turning to Sinclair for help when she becomes overwhelmed by depression. To complicate matters further, Quirke is greatly attracted to the French Francoise, and she seems to be equally interested in him.

Because Diamond Dick was a ruthless businessman, he has many enemies, but the mystery of who would want him dead deepens as there seems to be little reason for any of them to kill him. Even Francoise seems more indifferent to her husband's death than upset, and she gives Quirke the names of people to interview whom she believes might have been involved.

The narrator, John Keating, does a good job of differentiating between characters, but his Irish accent started to bother me, even though the story is set in Ireland. When he shifts to Francoise, she sounds French, but one of the other characters is supposed to be American, and that accent seemed more strange than American to my ears. Although the story becomes more exciting in places, especially as we get closer to the conclusion, Keating keeps his tone modulated and lacking in emotion, and I think that this bothered me even more than his Irish accent. I did enjoy the story and its convoluted resolution, though, and for the most part I thought the reader did a fine job.

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