"In his mind sometimes he got it all confused, got it all out of sequence..."
These words form part of an internal monologue by a character towards the end of The Silver Swan by Benjamin Black and in many ways it sums up this novel.
Despite having 350 pages in which to plant clues and lay trails for the reader to follow which all converge in a moment of realisation Black ends up having to explain exactly what had been happening all along.
It is a bit like the end of an episode of Scooby Doo when Velma tells us who the bad guy was, why he'd done it an how he got away with it.
Again, as in Christine Falls (CF), reviewed a few entries ago, the central character Quirke fails to come to life.
He is fleshed out a little and there is a bit more psychological depth to him but Black still needs other characters or his authorial voice to tell us that Quirke is complicated loner rather than through characterisation.
The novel is peppered with inconsistencies, cliches, reliance on coincidences and just stupid mistakes.
Quirke's daughter Phoebe, who at the end of CF had had become an heiress following the death of her millionaire grandfather, is working as an assistant in a hat shop.
Despite trying to expose his foster father and foster brother for the wrong doings he uncovered in CF, Quirke still pays them reqular visits.
One of the main protagonists is The Silver Swan is an English spiv called Leslie who is straight out a 1950's Ealing comedy who all-but twirls his moustache and exhales 'well heeeellllloooo' every time a pretty girl walks in to the room.
Quirke's daughter just happens to get caught up with one of the characters linked to a woman whose death Quirke is investiaging.
A policeman comically twirls his tie "like Stan Laurel" - surely it was Ollie who did that?
Benjamin Black's alter ego John Banville can get away without a plot because his novels are carefully paced exercises in styalised prose.
In his Booker winning novel The Sea, the plot could be scribbled on the back of a beer mat. But the external incidents are less important than the slow disection of the narrator's psyche and flashbacks to a childhood summer which we eventually realise defined him as person.
Part of the pleasure in reading The Sea is the act of reading itself, the plot is something on which Banville hangs his prose.
However, as Benjamin Black, Banville, has opted for the crime fiction genre in which plot is much more important but as his character says "sometimes he got it all confused".
Its not all bad and The Silver Swan is an entertaining enough read but somehow you get the feeling that Black/Banville has taken an 'ah sure that'll do' approach.