Snow by John Banville.
This book, on the surface, is a standard murder- in –the- big- house whodunit but underneath it’s a commentary on the state of the nation, the Irish Nation in 1957. Ireland (the 26 counties at least), has been free of British rule since 1921 and the Catholic majority now rule the roost. The sleuth, Detective Inspector St. John Strafford, is a the son of protestant landed gentry, burdened by the curses of his class – good manners, left handedness and hemophilia. He’s an outsider now that the caste system has been turned on its head and Banville, like the good writer he is, shows this in a variety of subtle and amusing ways.
Archbishop Mc Quaid, the archbishop of Dublin, is one of the characters in the book and his long and sanctimonious arm reaches into every aspect of Irish society. He serves as a reminder that the Irish traded one oppressor, the English, for another more subtle oppressor, the Catholic Church. There is a chilling chapter about abuse in Irish residential industrial schools which brings to mind what happened to indigenous children in Canadian residential schools.
On top of all that there’s a dead priest, an intricate plot and sex scenes you will not find in Agatha Christie.
Read it, recommend it to a friend!