- Series: Quirke (Book 1)
- Paperback: 369 pages
- Publisher: Picador; Reprint edition (January 22, 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0312426321
- ISBN-13: 978-0312426323
- Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 8.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars See all reviews (214 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #122,487 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Christine Falls: A Novel (Quirke) Paperback – January 22, 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Dalton uses all his pacing and vocal skills and his wonderful, deep Welsh tones to keep listeners engaged and on edge through this mystery set in 1950s Dublin and Boston. He skillfully sustains our empathy for widowed Dublin coroner Quirke, the alcoholic, angry and acerbic narrator who drags himself into solving the mystery of Christine Falls's death in childbirth and the disappearance of her newborn—a scenario that parallels Quirke's own experience. Black (pseudonym of Booker Prize–winner John Banville) is a fine writer, reminiscent of P.D. James in his care for language and his emphasis on psychologically complex characters, including Mel, Quirke's obstetrician stepbrother; Sarah, Mel's wife (and sister of Quirke's dead wife), whose love for Quirke is reciprocated; and Mel and Sarah's confused daughter, Phoebe. Black weaves his characters through a neat and original plot that descends into the dark depths of Quirke's family history and rises to the highest ranks of the Catholic church. Detective fiction readers will love Black's writing and Dalton's reading, and look forward to more from both.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
From Bookmarks Magazine
Christine Falls may be Benjamin Black's debut crime novel, but it's not his first book: Black is the nom de plumeof John Banville, the Booker Prize?winning author of The Sea (****1/2 Jan/Feb 2006). As expected, Banville's lyrical writing stands out (and is more accessible than in The Sea), but the expressive style doesn't eclipse the dark, suspenseful plot. Set during the all-powerful reign of the Catholic Church, the novel touches on themes of sexual repression, grief, and lost opportunities. Readers expecting a fast-paced crime novel may initially be surprised by Banville's slow, deliberate rendering of the plot and the complex charactersbut they will certainly look forward to the next novel in this projected series.
Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
I did have empathy for Quirke and his early life losses until the big reveal when I questioned the evidence of his depth of character and his heart.
The author does create vivid scenes with the use of descriptive prose. I enjoyed the glimpse into the 1950's Dublin.
But overall, I felt a lack of depth to the characters, the story, and the locations.
I do have the second book in the Quirke series which I will read in hopes of finding the depth and dimension I found missing in this book.
The protagonist is an alcoholic pathologist, pretty much a cad we must conclude after reading 2/3 of the
book. He is as devoid of natural light as the hospital basement in which he works. Unfortunately I like the people about
whom I spend time reading about to have at least one or two sympathetic parts to their personalities.
The most interesting characters to me were the young woman and her husband who receive the
smuggled newborn from Ireland. The only violence that seemed adequately motivated, or at least
real for the type of personality using it, was the shaken baby death and the rape later perpertrated by the
male half of the couple.
The woman whose name is on the cover of this engrossing tale of murder, betrayal, and corruption on high has arrived in Quirke's morgue, deemed a suicide by the police. When Quirke comes across his brother-in-law, Malachy Griffin, doctoring the records of the young woman's death, he develops an irresistible urge to examine the case more closely. Naturally, he finds that the reason for the woman's death was anything but suicide. Pursuing the investigation out of sheer stubbornness and curiosity despite warnings from all quarters to leave it alone, Quirke soon finds himself in jeopardy for his life. As he approaches ever more closely to an understanding of a mysterious scheme involving the Catholic hierarchy and high society both in Ireland and in Boston as well as members of his own family, the stakes continue to rise.
Christine Falls is an eminently worthy debut for the Quirke series. I previously reviewed the second in the series, The Silver Swan. And, yes, of course I wish I'd read them in the proper order. Nonetheless, even knowing in advance how the case would be resolved, I found Christine Falls thoroughly enjoyable.
John Banville, aka Benjamin Black, is an award-winning Irish author whose distinctions include the Booker Prize. He is reputedly often mentioned as a candidate for the Nobel Prize in Literature. Banville writes the Quirke series of crime novels -- four of them to date, themselves frequent award contenders -- under the pseudonym Benjamin Black.
We see such Irish Catholic youngsters being exploited in similiar ways even today.
With such a tale to be told it had it all going for it but ...'No!'
The writing was clumsy. In many aspects the characters weren't drawn as believable. They made 'out-of-character' decisions to take the plot from A to B. I found this happened more as the book came to an end. It wasn't a 'conclusion' that rang true for most of the characters.
Many aspects of the plot went nowhere...the letter that was written and posted. This led nowhere really and didn't add to the story as ven a 'red herring'.
I belong to a book club here in Australia and we all had pretty much the same opinion.