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Christine Falls: A Novelby Benjamin Black
Synopses & Reviews
In the debut crime novel from the Booker-winning author, a Dublin pathologist follows the corpse of a mysterious woman into the heart of a conspiracy among the city's high Catholic society.
It's not the dead that seem strange to Quirke. It's the living.
One night, after a few drinks at an office party, Quirke shuffles down into the morgue where he works and finds his brother-in-law, Malachy, altering a file he has no business even reading. Odd enough in itself to find Malachy there, but the next morning, when the haze has lifted, it looks an awful lot like his brother-in-law, the esteemed doctor, was in fact tampering with a corpse — and concealing the cause of death.
It turns out the body belonged to a young woman named Christine Falls. And as Quirke reluctantly presses on toward the true facts behind her death, he comes up against some insidious — and very well-guarded — secrets of Dublin's high Catholic society, among them members of his own family.
Set in Dublin and Boston in the 1950s, the first novel in the Quirke series brings all the vividness and psychological insight of Booker Prize winner John Banville's fiction to a thrilling, atmospheric crime story. Quirke is a fascinating and subtly drawn hero, Christine Falls is a classic tale of suspense, and Benjamin Black's debut marks him as a true master of the form.
"In this expertly paced debut thriller from Irish author Black (the pseudonym of Booker Prize-winner John Banville), pathologist Garret Quirke uncovers a web of corruption in 1950s Dublin surrounding the death in childbirth of a young maid, Christine Falls. Quirke is pulled into the case when he confronts his stepbrother, physician Malachy Griffin, who's altering Christine's file at the city morgue. Soon it appears the entire establishment is in denial over Christine's mysterious demise and in a conspiracy that recalls the classic film Chinatown. And the deeper Quirke delves into the mystery, the more it seems to implicate his own family and the Catholic church. At the start, the novel has the spare melancholy of early James Joyce, describing a Dublin of private clubs, Merrion Square townhouses and the occasional horse-drawn cart; as the plot heats up and the action shifts to Boston, Mass., it becomes more of a standard detective story. Though Black makes an occasional American cultural blooper, he keeps divulging surprises to the last page so that the reader is simultaneously shocked and satisfied. Author tour. (Mar.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"[An] enjoyable crime novel....A good story, and gorgeous writing." Kirkus Reviews
"Christine Falls is deeply atmospheric....
"Christine Falls is a triumph, of classical crime fiction, finely, carefully made, not a single false move or wrong word — why oh why don't they write books like this anymore?" Alan Furst, bestselling author of Kingdom of Shadows
"Leave it to an Irish novelist to nail down what's so scary about parentage, family and belonging." Los Angeles Times
"Readers who enjoy a meaty, textured tale from a skillful novelist will be well satisfied." Seattle Times
"Mr. Banville, a k a Mr. Black, makes his plot almost secondary to the haunted, richly developed characters who ricochet through this suspenseful but unhurried book, all of them full of secrets and all very much products of their time." Janet Maslin, New York Times
The hero of Christine Falls, Quirke, is a surly pathologist living in 1950s Dublin. One night, after having a few drinks at a party, he returns to the morgue to find his brother-in-law tampering with the records on a young woman's corpse. The next morning, when his hangover has worn off, Quirke reluctantly begins looking into the woman's history. He discovers a plot that spans two continents, implicates the Catholic Church, and may just involve members of his own family. He is warned — first subtly, then with violence — to lay off, but Quirke is a stubborn man. The first novel in the Quirke series brings all the vividness and psychological insight of John Banville's writing to the dark, menacing atmosphere of a first-class thriller.
About the Author
Benjamin Black is the pen name of acclaimed author John Banville, who was born in Wexford, Ireland, in 1945. His novels have won numerous awards, most recently the Man Booker Prize in 2005 for The Sea. He lives in Dublin.
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