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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 (921 )
5 star
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4 star
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Overall
3.3 (453 )
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Story
3.9 (459 )
5 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Carole 02-12-15
    Carole 02-12-15

    Mystery lover from waaaay back when.... Especially love those dark police/detective procedurals and the comic caper. I'm pretty tough as a reviewer. Writing must be smart and well-edited. Plots must be credible and a bit of twistiness and surprises are always welcome. Favorite authors [partial list]: Donald Westlake, Tana French, David Rosenfelt, Ruth Rendell, Ed McBain,

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Predictable with unpleasant characters"

    Predictable plot that took a very, very long time to unfold. I can't think of a single main character who was interesting or attractive in any way. Waste of time and a credit.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    DesertLizzie Mesa, Arizona 02-08-15
    DesertLizzie Mesa, Arizona 02-08-15 Member Since 2012

    DesertLizzie

    ratings
    REVIEWS
    4
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "a plodding nightmare of a story"
    What disappointed you about Christine Falls?

    It's complete lack of plot is probably the first problem. I kept waiting for something to happen that I could wonder about: "how will Quirk figure this out?" But there were just things that happened that you knew must have something to do with the story but it could have just as easily been some boring persons diary (went to work today. Had lunch with John. Wondered about a dead woman. Got told to quit wondering. Didn't. Got beat up.) I mean, really? We never do find out why Quirk cares so much.


    Would you ever listen to anything by Benjamin Black again?

    No


    Have you listened to any of Timothy Dalton’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    No, but Timothy was the only thing that kept me listening. He could make a shopping list sound sexy (but NOT a boring persons diary, obviously).


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    In the end I was just happy the whole gloomy mess was over.


    Any additional comments?

    Even the big reveal at the end was ruined by the authors clumsy, boring, gloomy meandering. Instead of owning this twist the reader finds that it really isn't a twist at all. Just some bit of offhand information that most everyone, but the reader, already knew.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    PickyPicky 02-03-15
    PickyPicky 02-03-15
    HELPFUL VOTES
    9
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    14
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    "Ponderous and plodding first book in series"

    Not sure what made this book so unenjoyable for me. My guess is that it might have needed a lot more editing. Anyhow, after getting halfway through Part 1, I decided to skip the rest--which means I am not going to find out what happened to Christine Falls. :-(

    The tone of the part I listened to (most of Part 1) I found to be a relentless downer, partly because of the depressed tone of the reader, which happened to match too closely to the depression of the main character telling the story. That might have come to be resolved if the characters became real enough to care about them and their relationships to each other, and the conspiracy/crime/mystery solving story didn't drag on without any sign it would come together.

    Possibly this is going to become a good series and the main character. I just couldn't get through this first book, though.

    Fortunately it was a $6.95 special.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tom 05-14-14
    Tom 05-14-14
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "dashed expectations, irritating throughout"

    Someone recommended Benjamin Black. I wish I remembered who it was so I would know to ignore them next time round. The atmosphere is dark. The characters, all of them, are unattractive people. The protagonist is by far the most unpleasant, with snide remarks and axes to grind; he is unnecessarily obtuse with his family, making driving everyone nuts. A depressed alcoholic. His only arguably redeeming quality is his book long effort to discover what happened to the baby Christine. But, it's an obsession that seems out of character.

    The narrator is a famous actor with a beautiful deep voice. But his narration, which fits the book's style, is harsh and, for me, it became tiresome, almost oppressive.

    Why did I persist in listening to the whole book. Well, I'm rather ashamed of myself for thinking so little of the value of my time. But, I'm retired.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Red Emma Seattle, WA USA 12-27-13
    Red Emma Seattle, WA USA 12-27-13 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Voice is heavenly- Story is Mediocre"
    Any additional comments?

    Timothy Dalton's voice is why I listened to this. The story wasn't awful but I would say it was mediocre. But I listened to very word of it because it was so masterly narrated. If you are looking for more of an "audio experience" this would be a good choice.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Opule 11-27-13
    Opule 11-27-13
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "fine writing, thin plot"

    The author's ability to compose vivid descriptions of incidental details is remarkable. Unfortunately, the fine writing is dressing up a rather thin plot. The resolution of the "mystery" does not make much sense and really isn't very interesting. Dalton does a great job of the narration.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dave United States 06-27-13
    Dave United States 06-27-13
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    Story
    "Predictable and boring"
    What would have made Christine Falls better?

    More character depth and less predictability. Plot twists were pointless at times. Seems as if it was constructed on the fly.


    Has Christine Falls turned you off from other books in this genre?

    I won't order any Ben Black books again.


    Would you listen to another book narrated by Timothy Dalton?

    Yes


    What character would you cut from Christine Falls?

    Many pointless characters that were not developed and were simply put in as noise.


    Any additional comments?

    Not sure why this book has such high ratings.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    S. Koestler Woodland, Ca 04-02-13
    S. Koestler Woodland, Ca 04-02-13 Member Since 2012
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    5
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    "Timothy Dalton is an exceptional narrator"
    What did you love best about Christine Falls?

    Story line was well thought out and well written. Characters were clear and well defined. Main character was complex but likable,


    What did you like best about this story?

    The best part was the voice of the narrator, clean, clear, good delineation of characters.


    What about Timothy Dalton’s performance did you like?

    He is a talented, strong, very experienced actor, and brings all of that expertise to this performance. The story line captures your interest almost immediately, and holds it throughout the book. He doesn't let go of your attention.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Christine United States 02-10-13
    Christine United States 02-10-13 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
    4
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    "If you have trouble going to sleep this book is fo"
    This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    I think a person who enjoys reading books along the lines of Harlequin Romance novels may enjoy this.


    Has Christine Falls turned you off from other books in this genre?

    I will continue reading books in this genre but would not attempt to make it through another book by this author.


    Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Timothy Dalton?

    Timothy Dalton did the best he could with the material he was given. I don't think the narrator is the problem here.


    What character would you cut from Christine Falls?

    Andy, Claire, Phoebe


    Any additional comments?

    I am an avid audio book listener but this one was very disappointing. I wanted to like it since I love Ireland but the story bordered on silly and it the storyline was too predictable.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    N. Barnes 01-17-13
    N. Barnes 01-17-13 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    5
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    "Enchanting narration of engaging literature"

    I don't normally go for this type of novel, but the narrator Timothy Dalton has a luscious voice and tremendous skill. His narration of every character's part--regardless of sex or age--is flawless. Moreover, his deep and honey-toned voice made it impossible for me to stop listening. Black's writing is also very engaging, though I do think that this book is best enjoyed as an audiobook, when the skills of both men enhance one another. I've purchased the other two books in the series and am sure that I will enjoy them all.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
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