Who is Quirke?

Quirke is a consultant pathologist in the Dublin city morgue—a tall, powerful character more at ease among the cold silent slabs than the company of his fellow men.

He lives his life mostly alone, savoring the pleasures of a tipple, a smoke, and a rich meal, sitting up most nights with a "post post-mortem drink" and wincing through most mornings with a hangover. Surly as he is, though, the outside world refuses to leave him alone: his gruff, inscrutable manner draws women and men alike, and his cold eye discerns every hint of deception and conspiracy.

Orphaned at a young age, raised at a corrupt Irish boarding school, widowed and childless, Quirke's depression is compounded by longing for his dead wife's sister, Sarah.

But unfortunately, Quirke's charming adoptive brother Malachy Griffin, who always seems to be one step ahead in matters of work and family, just happens to be married to her.

To most of his acquaintances, even his mates at the smoke-dimmed McGonagle's Pub, Quirke is impatient and intolerant. It seems at times that dead bodies are his only company. But in truth, his profession provides his greatest pleasure: inquisitive by nature, he is fascinated with unlocking the secret to these cadavers' deaths.

During a cursory investigation Quirke happens upon a few inconsistencies that won't leave his mind alone. He becomes an ersatz detective reluctantly, knowing that delving into hidden places-the dank streets of 1950s Dublin-may lead him to truths he would be better off not knowing. Quirke's instincts are irresistible, and despite his drinking, foul temper, and his distaste for most living souls, his commitment to the truth above all makes him an aggressive and shrewd hero.

Hunting down the answers to some intricate mysteries, Quirke discovers that the living might just be every bit as captivating as the dead.

"Yet even as he asked himself these questions, Quirke was aware of the old itch to cut into the quick of things, to delve into the dark of what was hidden—to know."

- The Silver Swan by Benjamin Black

"An enigmatic, melancholy, moral man whose secrets and past life are carefully doled out."

- The Seattle Times

"Black's sense of the Irish ways—religion's heavy step behind every decision, the siren lure of the pub, family secrets that rival anything of Faulkner's—shine through in rapturous prose, as if Raymond Chandler had been filtered through Nabokov."

- Steve Shapiro, Rainy Day Books