The Book of Evidence
Shortlisted for the Booker Prize, The Book of Evidence by John Banville is a gripping portrait of a cold, deceptive killer; an unreliable narrator with a dark story to tell.
Freddie Montgomery has committed two crimes. He stole a small Dutch master from a wealthy family friend, and he murdered a chambermaid who caught him in the act.
He has little to say about the dead girl. He killed her, he says, because he was physically capable of doing so. It made perfect sense to smash her head in with a hammer. What he cannot understand, and would desperately like to know, is why he was so moved by an unattributed portrait of a middle-aged woman that he felt compelled to steal it . . .
Banville has excelled himself in a flawlessly flowing prose whose lyricism, patrician irony and aching sense of loss are reminiscent of Lolita.
The Book of Evidence is a major work of fiction in which every suave moment calmly detonates to show the murderous gleam within. Banville writes a dangerous and clear-running prose and has a grim gift of seeing people’s souls.
One of the most important writers now at work in English – a key thinker, in fact, in fiction.
London Review of Books