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Falling Off Air Paperback – August 8, 2005


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Mysterious Press (August 8, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446695238
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446695237
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.5 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,098,883 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

At the start of journalist Sampson's smooth debut novel, Robin Ballantyne, a single mother of infant twins, sees a neighbor she knows by sight plunge to her death from her South London mansion during a storm. Was it murder, suicide or an accident? Ballantyne is stunned to learn that the victim is none other than Paula Carmichael, a driven, charismatic gadfly, the social conscience of the United Kingdom. Ballantyne, a television producer on extended maternity leave, discovers that some of her colleagues, including the father of her children, had been filming a documentary about Carmichael that was abruptly, puzzlingly scuttled. When Ballantyne herself becomes a suspect in the mess after a second death, she traces the crimes to a halfway house in foggy, off-season Cornwall. The author gives scant attention to setting and the plot unfolds slowly at first, but about midway through, the pace picks up and the last quarter is a first-rate read. As the mother of young children, Ballantyne makes for an unusual sleuth: how many detectives need to first hire a babysitter before going out to save the world? Fans of Ayelet Waldman's Mommy-Track mystery series will want to check out this thriller.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Single mother Robin Ballantyne happens to be looking out the window of her London row house one rainy night when she sees a woman's body dropping from the sky, or, more accurately, the neighbor's roof. Robin's neighbor, Paula Carmichael, lies dead on the ground outside. After recounting the story to police, Robin is shocked to discover that she is a leading suspect, thanks to numerous mentions of her in the victim's diary and other circumstantial evidence. Robin hardly knew Paula, a renowned liberal activist, and yet Paula seemed to know Robin's every move. Why would such a famous woman virtually stalk a single mother? Could it have something to do with Robin's career in broadcast news? Is it a coincidence that Paula had worked with Robin's ex-husband? Sampson, a journalist living in Beijing, makes a grand entrance into the mystery genre with this stellar debut novel. The story is told in the first person, and Robin's narrative voice is immediately compelling. She is portrayed with humor, subtlety, and dead-on accuracy, first as a woman seeming to come apart at the seams and then as an inspiring modern heroine drawing on untapped inner strength to overcome both commonplace and extraordinary adversity. Remember Sampson's name; it's about to become an important one in crime fiction. Mary Frances Wilkens
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on August 29, 2004
Format: Hardcover
London based TV news producer Robin Ballantyne takes maternity leave to raise her infant twins Hannah and William while the father of the children Adam Wills flees from the three females in his life. However, Robin quickly realizes how much she misses the news room when she watches her neighbor Labour Party MP and social arbiter to the nation Paula Carmichael fall to her death.

Robin asks Maeve Tandy, Chief of the Current Affairs/Documentary Division for her old job back, but is offered a loser's position as ethics editor. Doing an end around, Robin attends a ritzy awards ceremony attended by broadcasting leaders including that ship deserting rat Adam. He demands visitation rights to see his daughters, but the next day is run over by Robin's BMW. The media goes frenzy with one of their own in the hot seat as they see her vehicle as the weapon, her meeting with the victim as the opportunity and her inheritance of his estate as the motive. No one cares that Adam was filming a documentary about Paula and sharing much more. Robin realizes her peers and the police have convicted her; she must prove otherwise.

This engaging British amateur sleuth tale is kept fresh by the beleaguered heroine who finds her own community ready to devour her as a wounded piranha. Though two lovers and the media feeding turmoil are old hats, having an insider caught in the headlights provides newness as Robin struggles between motherhood, prime suspect, media hanging, and investigator. Fans will appreciate Robin FALLING OFF AIR as she tries to save herself from drowning in the media spotlighted fishbowl.

Harriet Klausner
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Hans Castorp VINE VOICE on September 8, 2004
Format: Hardcover
First we have our 1st person narrator, and her pre-toddling twins with our intrepid heroine witnessing the falling death of a neighbor , who we learn is a big time social activist, on a dark and stormy night. Murder,suicide, chance fall? Then the ex -boyfriend lout shows up, along with the police, a frenzied media, many corporate media types who once worked with the mom and her ex-boyfriend. Mix this together with some 1st class,very stylish writing, very unusual family situations, and a gradual semi-frantic pace into some tough English neighborhoods, and you have a sure winner! PS- See how soon you can pick the criminal. No doubt , you'll be very surprised by the finale! My only (tiny) criticism: too many "our eyes locked" phrases thruout. Nonetheless, an outstanding debut!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By D. P. Hock on November 1, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Smart, engaging story. Robin Ballantyne is a realistic-sounding single mother whose life starts to unravel when she is suspected of involvement in a neighbor's murder. The story is well-written, the characters believeable, the plot suspenseful. Well worth the time.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By hawthorne wood on June 10, 2007
Format: Paperback
Big shout out for this fantastic thriller - and I want more from Sampson. She's ultra-cool; a brilliant woman for her times, with all the conflicts that go with that: having kids AND needing her career. Great story. Couldn't put it down. The audio is extremely well done.
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Format: Hardcover
Robin Ballantyne has her hands full these days as this complex novel opens. Her lover abandoned her to raise the twins he fathered and her TV career has been on hold for a year. So too has her entire life as her world has shrunk to her children and their needs. While she loves the twins with very fiber of her being, she is lonely and depressed and struggling hard to cope with day-to-day problems. The fact that her neighbors are fighting one evening outside her small London town house certainly does not help much. Nor does it help when, hours later after she finally got the twins to bed, she happens to see a woman crash to the pavement across the street during a heavy thunderstorm.

Robin summons help, but she knows from the way the woman, who fell at least three stories is splayed out on the street, that she is dead. What she did not realize at the time is that the deceased woman was Paula Carmichael, a very vocal social activist and member of the Labour Party in Parliament. She also does not know why Robin is mentioned in Paula's dairy and why she comments in detail about the twins. Not only does Paula know the names and habits, the passages in the diary suggest Paula was stalking Robin and raise other questions for the police. Questions that Robin is powerless to explain no matter how many times or in what form, D. C. I. Finney asks them.

Robin also does not understand why, since she was so very good at her job of producing television documentaries before going out on maternity leave, she can't have her old job back. Instead she is made an offer for an ethics watchdog type position, something she does not want but may have to grudgingly accept to keep food on the table.
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