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Christine Falls: A Novel | [Benjamin Black]

Christine Falls: A Novel

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.
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Audible Editor Reviews

Why we think it's Essential: Whenever I'm asked for an example of the perfect marriage of a story's characters, language, and pacing and a narrator's talent and presence, this is my first recommendation. Timothy Dalton's smoky, boozy, world-weary Irish brogue is truly haunting. He is so convincing as the fictional lead that I felt as if he was Quirke, sharing a story as he lived it. —Steve Feldberg

Publisher's Summary

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, including 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.

©2006 Benjamin Black; (P)2006 Audio Renaissance, a division of Holtzbrinck Publishers LLC

What the Critics Say

"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." (Publishers Weekly)
"Christine Falls is deeply atmospheric. Clydesdales drag drays through the streets of 1950s Dublin, and the pubs are 'fuggy with turf smoke'. Nearly all the characters are painstakingly detailed and developed - even though they're likely to be morally mysterious." (Booklist)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.4 (932 )
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3.9 (469 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Marie Woodville, TX, United States 04-28-07
    Marie Woodville, TX, United States 04-28-07 Member Since 2013

    I love mysteries in the style of P.D. James, Rex Stout, Elizabeth Peters, Dave Duncan, etc. I love sci fi written by Issac Asimov (the robot books), Douglas Adams, Jack McDevitt (Alex Benedict series) and Susan Collins. I love fantasy written by Terry Pratchett, and Kim Harrison. I love Kate Morton. I don't like graphic descriptions of violence.

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    "The narrator makes this one a winner!"

    I try to avoid books that include the murder of infants, spousal abuse, and rape as part of the plot since reading is escapism for me and I want to escape to a better world this this one. However, there was no hint of those themes in the snyopsis or other reviews. But I am not sorry I chose it. In spite of those painful passages, this is a good book. But I am not recommending it for that reason -- it is for the narrator. Timothy Dalton took my breath away. What a disspointment that there are no other Audible books narrated by him. Wish I could listen to this one again, but I will have to wait for his next one.

    10 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    AmazonShoppingQueen Chicago, IL 04-02-07
    AmazonShoppingQueen Chicago, IL 04-02-07 Member Since 2012
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    "go for it!"

    Great story, excellent narration. Reminded me of Ruth Rendell.

    10 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Happy Woodstock, NY, USA 06-02-07
    Happy Woodstock, NY, USA 06-02-07 Member Since 2003
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    "A literary tour de force"

    I have listened to dozens of books in the past few years, and "Christine Falls" ranks high on my list of the best of them. It is well plotted, with breathtaking descriptions and rich atmosphere, and the reader, Timothy Dalton, is superb. I was engrossed from its dark, moody beginning to its surprising and twisted ending. I love mysteries that combine a strong story line with good characters and a smart, literary sensibility - Le Carre is one of my favorite writers - and this book didn't disappoint me in any way. I highly recommend it.

    13 of 16 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Polly Philadelphia, PA, United States 04-15-14
    Polly Philadelphia, PA, United States 04-15-14 Member Since 2010

    An avid reader, demanding of the story, characters and narrator. Mysteries and historical fiction are my favorites.

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    "Dreary and Pointless"

    I like "dark" books. Stories do not have to have unrealistically happy endings for me to enjoy them. But ... this book had nothing positive in it, from beginning to end. Dreary, depressing and hopeless are words I would use to describe the plot and the characters.

    The narrator is excellent. But the book is absolutely not worth reading.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Galadriel 07-05-13
    Galadriel 07-05-13 Member Since 2008
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    "Excellent writing, brilliant reading"
    What about Timothy Dalton’s performance did you like?

    Can you fall in love with sound of a voice? The timbre and tone of Dalton's voice is a thing of beauty, flowing effortlessly through the required Irish (tinged with his own Welsh) brogue, he creates one of the finest audiobook readings I've ever heard - powerful, nuanced and deeply felt. His Shakespearian roots (yes, long before James Bond) are obvious in the range and power of his skills, which would surely do justice to any work of the Bard's. Gorgeous man with a gorgeous gift. I wish he'd recorded more than just these three audiobooks.


    Any additional comments?

    Almost forgot to say that the material is superior, with fully realized characters - described in an incredibly rich world of language that only Irish authors seem to own. Could not stop listening. On to the next in the series. Can't wait!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    HIII 05-11-13
    HIII 05-11-13 Member Since 2010
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    "Quirkie Quark"

    Even with Timothy Dalton narrating this story was hard for me to continue listening. People with 'sick' behavior are always distressing. In Christine Falls to right the wrong Quark must destroy a close family member and the book becomes dark and sad. Dark and sad is the case here. I cannot recommend this listen only tell you the situation and let you decide for yourself.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana, United States 08-07-08
    Amazon Customer INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana, United States 08-07-08 Member Since 2015
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    "This is a good listen"

    I think this is a very good book. I had to listen to the first half hour twice as I found it hard to "get into" the story. After I did that, I really liked it. (Read the NYT book review before you buy it - helps you to know if you are going to like it.)

    8 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    BeckyC 08-23-07
    BeckyC 08-23-07 Member Since 2012
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    "A disappointment"

    This book had gotten great reviews, so I was very surprised at my negative reaction. I wonder if this is the first book in my experience that is worse in the audio version than the print version. I usually love atmospheric mysteries, and these get points if set in the UK or Ireland (William Boyd's Restless is excellent). But I just could not get into this one--the characters did not seem at all believable and they all just became annoying after awhile. There were no shades of gray; even the villain was so villainous as to be tedious. A major problem for me may have been the narration--it was really overwrought. And as someone who grew up in Boston, I found the southern (?!) accents of the characters living there to be very jarring. In fairness, I should say that I did finish the book and was curious to see how it turned out. But I'm not eager to try another book by Banville/Black or one narrated by Timothy Dalton!

    14 of 18 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ted Lancaster, PA, United States 02-27-15
    Ted Lancaster, PA, United States 02-27-15 Member Since 2010

    Don't know what I want to be when I grow up. Trip's cool though. Use Audible to make gym-training sane... And rip my imagination.

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    "Okay... I Give Up. What's the point here?"

    Four hours of heavy tedium have caused any interest I've got in listening to this... this... thing reveal what it's about to dissipate like a parking lot puddle in searing heat. Nope, bad metaphor. This book and the word "heat" should never appear in the same sentence. It is cold and not even interesting enough to be called boring.

    Perhaps this is a "literary" author's attempt to become more commercial by having his book marketed as a "mystery" or a "thriller"? The mystery here is what went through the publishers' minds when they green lighted this thing. Maybe they acted on a pitch instead of actually reviewing a manuscript and once granting an advance found themselves stuck?

    Dunno. But I do know that Benjamin Black is on my, er, blacklist. I'll return this book, but no way that Audio can give me back four hours of my life. Pity.

    Oh, and Timothy Dalton? His read was as uninspiring as the text. They made a good match.

    5 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Megan Hewins Spokane, Washington USA 06-23-14
    Megan Hewins Spokane, Washington USA 06-23-14
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    "Lubricious Narration Made Me Weak in the Knees"
    Any additional comments?

    I always read something entirely frivolous at the end of quarter to unwind from several months of complex literature and pedantic professors. I listened to this on audio instead of reading. I almost never get fiction for audio books because I like to multi-task when I listen to audio books and find nonfiction much more suitable attention span wise for that task, but I found this on Audible.com and picked it mainly for the narrator, Timothy Dalton, who is in my opinion, the finest example of masculine energy on planet earth.

    I knew it was a hard boiled noir kind of detective story, but oh. my. stars. I had no idea it would be so deliciously salacious. Combining the lascivious prose with Timothy Dalton's lubricious narration made for many awkward blushing moments while I was on the bus, at the laundromat, and grocery shopping with my headphones on.

    I wasn't expecting a literary masterpiece, and it isn't one by any stretch of the imagination. The books is stuffed full of trite cliches, exhausted metaphors and genre archetypes. The book was kind of like the restaurant Olive Garden - a corporate franchise that looks the same in each city with the same menu and prefabricated meals. I mean that you know exactly what you're getting when you walk in. That's the strength and failing of genre novels. But for chrissakes, as much as we all love patronizing the new avant-garde bistro with locally grown sustainable organic fairy dust, sometimes you just wanna go to Olive Garden and have some corporate pasta.

    I know a lot of reviewers want to imbue this with some kind of literary merit because Banville, the author behind the pen name, does write literary fiction. I don't know why everyone feels the need to puff up genre fiction and try and legitimize it. What's wrong with a book just being entertaining? I picked this up exactly because I didn't want to over-think and analyze something to death. It was a fun read from a highly competent writer who either enjoys the genre or is milking the old cash cow--neither of which detract from or add to the literary merit of the book. It isn't fine dining, but it was a good meal and Timothy Dalton's smutty narration has me queuing up the sequel.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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