John Banville is much more famous for literary fiction than mysteries. It shows in Snow.

The plot reads like a too-easy-to-solve Agatha Christie. A priest is murdered in a down-at-its-heels country manor house during a snowstorm with no signs of forced entry.

However, the setting in 1950s Ireland with the sharp divisions between its Catholic and Protestant inhabitants is extremely effective. You feel like you are really living there. The snowy atmosphere and the oppression of the time almost feel like characters within the novel. And the writing style itself is lush.

Unfortunately, the mystery is much too easy to solve. Here, you try it with just a few clues from the beginning of the book: 1957, Ireland, Catholic priest murdered with his “tackle” (genitals) removed, and daughter of the house calling said priest “like a Peeping Tom”.

Overall, literary fiction fans will enjoy this well-written peep into the past. But for mystery fans like me, Snow only receives 3 stars.

Thanks to Faber & Faber Ltd and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

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