From the standpoint of the story, I think this second Quirke novel is more successful than the first. I was quite intrigued by Christine Falls and, of course, admired the fine writing. But the plot was a bit out of control with so many unraveling threads, sadness heaped upon scandal, and none of it having a very satisfactory resolution, which was no doubt the author's point about life. The Silver Swan seems to me to be a more successful representation of its genre. It contains the many admirable qualities of the first Banville's fierce analysis of the Irish, his fine character studies, the elegiac descriptions of Dublin but presents the plot with more control and power.
Benjamin Black cannot write a bad book.
I love the way this author writes! Deep, dark, full of the texture of different characters' experience, a relatively simple plot with complex people who do not understand their own motivations. Characters with, to quote one of them, "cold hearts, hot souls." The novel is set in Dublin and the main character is a pathologist who gets much too curious for his own good. I recommend you read the same author's "Christine Falls" before this one.