Benjamin Black

The Lemur

"... a simple story, told by a master."


Wilson Cleaver is a journalist from Ireland who has married into a very rich family. Now his father-in-law has asked Cleaver to write his biography. Cleaver is in a dilemma. Not only has he lost his passion for writing, but where do you begin with one of the most famous men in the world - the billionaire William 'Big Bill' Mulholland? An ex-CIA man, Mulholland has always endured whispers about his character. Is Cleaver expected to gloss over these unwelcome rumours?

Hiring a young researcher who Cleaver believes looks like a Lemur, the ex-journo sits back and waits for the information to arrive. But The Lemur has other plans and tries to blackmail Cleaver over information his has dug up about 'Big Bill'. Cleaver thinks he is really in deep but it all gets very sticky indeed when the young researcher himself turns up…dead.

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The Lemur is the third book John Banville has written under this pseudonym. This time, The Lemur is set in contemporary New York with Wilson Cleaver trying to assuage his vertigo in a huge tower block owned by his father-in-law. As with all Banville/Black's writing, he manages to convey his character's feelings in a few simple words, rather than reams of metaphors littering the page. As a result Black can tell this story in under two hundred pages. The reader often feels the sense of frustration Cleaver feels. Despite living a privilege lifestyle, he has many regrets about how things have turned out and opportunities missed. Even though the characters are sometimes sketchy, the author fleshes them out through their emotions and brings them vividly to life. The end is not breathtaking, but satisfying. As Black offers only a hand full of suspects it isn't long before you grasp the full story. Despite that, The Lemur is written by a master of words and this reader felt completely satisfied, having read a simple story, told by a master.

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