The Black novels, as well as being well-worked mysteries, were also concerned with the moral and political condition of Ireland ... So too is this one ... Banville, unlike many authors who turn to crime, demands, deserves and indeed requires close attention, slow and careful reading ... There is no intelligent distinction to be made between his 'straight' novels and his crime ones ... [A] masterly book ... Not many crime novels merit, or indeed bear, re-reading, except in your laziest hours and then with a deal of skipping over descriptive paragraphs and without a suspension of disbelief. Banville’s do. Each scene holds the attention, invites question. The precision of the writing is a delight. I got an early proof copy of April in Spain, read it at once with pleasure, have since read it twice more, finding more in it each time. It is a social and political novel too, concerned with the arrogance of power and pervasive moral corruption ... In his eighth decade Banville is writing as well as ever—perhaps even better.
There is no clear distinction to be made between John Banville’s crime novels and his other fiction. There is the same elegant pacing, crafted prose and detailed examination of relationships—personal, social and political—that won him the Booker Prize ... The book is not a mile-a-minute crime thriller. Banville calls the reader to take time, to savour the intricate descriptions of people and place ... This is a slow-burning mystery, a love story and a study of the corruption and power of the Irish political elite—quite a lot to pack into one crime novel. Banville has achieved it with grace and poise.
An exciting page turner with plenty of dark and quirky characters ... an exciting page turner with plenty of dark and quirky characters ... Banville’s crime novels, those Greene-like entertainments, though, are written in 'as plain a style as possible, he says. That style is more akin to Raymond Chandler than [Henry] James.
Banville captures the Irish spirit in his tone and characters, all of whom are fully fleshed out. And his descriptions flourish like few authors’ can. When Banville leads a reader into a room, it comes alive with atmosphere, color and texture. The same thing happens with a charming town like San Sebastian; the feel of the sand, the sea mist and the warm Spanish nights are all brought to life. So how about an escape to a lovely seaside village? That sounds perfect right about now, doesn’t it? Besides, the bone-chilling race to stay alive in April in Spain will keep your heart thumping.
... this is an impeccably executed novel, incisive in its dissections of characters’ psychologies and unerring in its choreographic arrangement of the narrative’s dramatic revelations. Banville is characteristically virtuosic in excavating the obscurity of human motivations. The subtly playful, lyrically evocative and polished prose, meanwhile, is evidently of a calibre rarely seen in crime fiction today. That said, readers of literary fiction may find it hard to overlook the extent to which the morose, alcoholic, enigmatic Quirke is, if not quite a figure of cliché, then certainly cut from a thoroughly familiar cloth, his self-sabotaging behaviour following a fairly predictable pattern. Characters’ philosophical ruminations on the nature of memory, desire and loss likewise come across as rather halfhearted, even tired, compared to those found in Banville’s finest works ... April in Spain ultimately feels like a transitional work ... Nevertheless, Banville’s 'coming out' as a crime writer has undeniably injected fresh energy into his fiction ... the first instalments of the new Strafford series, which promises to elevate the crime novel to new artistic heights.
There’s nothing wrong with a slow-burn build and a coincidence or two ... But the payoff here feels cliché and melodramatic, with the would-be killer smart enough until the moment s/he’s not ... It’s possible April in Snow is for Banville/Black completists only and that it’s a chapter in a much more complex Banville/Black saga yet to be revealed.
A literary period piece featuring colorful characters and a mysterious crime ... Readers will savor the author’s imagery and playful language ... The plot is good, but the prose—ah, the prose ... Great fun from a masterful writer.