Book Review | Snow by John Banville


Title: Snow

Author: John Banville

Publisher: Faber and Faber

Release Date: 1st October 2020

Source: NetGalley


The body is in the library,’ Colonel Osborne said. ‘Come this way.

A chilling mystery from the Man Booker Prize winner.

Following the discovery of the corpse of a highly respected parish priest at Ballyglass House - the Co. Wexford family seat of the aristocratic, secretive Osborne family - Detective Inspector St John Strafford is called in from Dublin to investigate.

Strafford faces obstruction from all angles, but carries on determinedly in his pursuit of the murderer. However, as the snow continues to fall over this ever-expanding mystery, the people of Ballyglass are equally determined to keep their secrets.


A library should be full of books, high back leather chairs and a roaring fire.  It should not be the resting place of the bloodied corpse of the local parish priest.

Set in 1950’s Ireland, Snow takes us back to a slightly more innocent time.  But don’t confuse that with people behaving themselves.  DI St John (pronounced Sinjin) Strafford is called to Ballyglass to investigate the death of the local Catholic priest.  His body has been found in the library of Ballyglass House, seat of the Osborne family, the nature of his death is gruesome.

Straight away Strafford encounters the almost numb Osborne family, when death occurs he is used to people being emotional, they are not, they are a strange bunch.  The lady of the house is drugged up to the eyeballs, the son and daughter are definitely sociopaths and the father is your stereotypical lord of the manor.

As heavy snow falls around Ballyglass, Strafford digs in to the life of the priest, a picture builds of what the man was capable of and then at that point you realise just about anyone could have killed him.

Religion does play a part in this book, the victim is Catholic and the detective is a Protestant, the tensions that go with this pairing are evident throughout the book notably the Catholic Church making sure what they want published in the papers is what they want to see, not the actual truth.

Snow is a good whodunnit, the setting is worthy of an Agatha Christie novel and the identity of the killer is kept close to the authors chest until the end.

A very enjoyable read.

Thanks to NetGalley for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

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16 comments

  1. This sounds super creepy! A snowy setting is one of my favorite murder backdrops😁

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    1. I’m the same, I think I’ve written three reviews for books (including this one) which have snow as the backdrop.

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  2. This does sound like a good fit for Christie fans. I'm intrigued! Glad to see that you liked it.

    -Lauren
    www.shootingstarsmag.net

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  3. I am getting back into books like these and this could be good :D

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    1. I never used to read so much of this genre but in the last few years I’ve really started eating it up!

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  4. Totally like the sound of this one! :)

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  5. This sounds like such a great mystery! I love the atmospheric approach.

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    1. The snow makes all the difference, I don’t think it would be as good if it was set in the summer!

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  6. This sounds very different from anything I've read by this author - can't wait to try my eGalley.

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  7. Snow covers always catch my eye and I love looking at them. There's something so desolate about a snowy landscape!

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    1. There is indeed, I’ve read a few books of later and the snow has been used as a very claustrophobic background.

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  8. My goodness, I have not read a book by Banville for quite a while. I have read Snow by Orhan Pamuk. I did not even know this one was coming. Thanks.

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