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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 (983 )
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3.9 (512 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Stephen McLeod New York, NY USA 04-11-08
    Stephen McLeod New York, NY USA 04-11-08 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Great Listen"

    I start a lot of books I don't finish. I usually give it a couple of hours if it's an audiobook. Once I gave a book 7 hours before quitting because I thought it was going to get better; but it didn't ("An Unpardonable Crime"). This one got me from the first line. Timothy Dalton narrates with a deep rich Welsh accent - think Dylan Thomas if you've ever heard him, an octave lower, or Richard Burton. Of all of this audiobook's virtues, quite apart from how good it is substantially, the narration is its most attractive asset. If you like thrillers and mysteries that you don't have forgive the quality of the writing to enjoy, you'll love this. The writing is extraordinary.

    The plot follows a more or less formulaic path, but illuminates the genre even as it moves through its generic rules. The setting is Dublin for the most part, and Boston in the 1950s. The protagonist, aptly named "Quirke" is a forensic patholigist (in the US we call them coroners) who, in the book's opening scene, stumbles upon his brother in law - also a doctor, an obstetrician - in the act of falsifying information in a file of one of the corpses Quirke hasn't examined yet. This initiates an obsession on Quirke's fault to find out what happened to this woman (the eponymous Christine Falls), who allegedly died giving birth to a stillborn infant girl. Well, the little girl wasn't stillborn, the truth leads Quirke on a journey into a darkness of which Christine Falls was only one of many victims, and that's all I'm going to tell you about the plot. I loved this audiobook and would recommend it over the print version, which from me, is a big compliment.






    33 of 35 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Heather CHARLESTON, SC, United States 07-02-11
    Heather CHARLESTON, SC, United States 07-02-11 Member Since 2005
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    "Plodding, no plot, and incomplete characters"

    I wanted to like this so much. Timothy Dalton is a wonderful narrator and there is a sultry, atmospheric quality to the writing that appealed to me. However, the characters were never fully formed on the page, and the plot was not a mystery. I would question the characters' motivations if I ever saw them as people themselves. A disappointment that I would not recommend.

    11 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Judith Seaboyer 01-09-08 Member Since 2015
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    "Banville as crime writer"

    I'm not sure this should really be called a crime thriller, but it's gripping, dark, psychologically astute, intriguing historically. Can't get much better than that as far as I'm concerned!

    Timothy Dalton is a superb reader, though it might have been better not to have attempted American accents!

    I hope they'll record the second Quirke novel, The Silver Swan.

    17 of 19 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Christine Richmond, VA, United States 07-28-09
    Christine Richmond, VA, United States 07-28-09
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    "Excellent Choice"

    I hesitated after reading reviews. So glad I took the plunge. Timothy Dalton was most definitely NOT boring or monotonic. The story was compelling and all the elements were neatly tied together by the end. I could imagine a juicy entry for MASTERPIECE THEATER or MYSTERY!

    16 of 18 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jaxcat Florida 03-17-07
    Jaxcat Florida 03-17-07 Member Since 2007
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    "Engaging debut."

    This is an engrossing read, with deep character development and a great plot line. The first half of the book keeps you riveted to the story. Unfortunately the second half is not as fast paced and bogs down some in the emotional life of the central characters. Some interesting twists and turns keep you going. Enough of the story is unique that it is possible to overlook the places where it becomes predictable.

    25 of 29 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dave 03-30-12
    Dave 03-30-12
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    "A pretentious downer of a book"

    Although the author crafts some neat descriptions and the narrator is very talented, this is a pretentious downer of a book. My most unpleasant audiobook experience ever.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Galadriel 07-05-13
    Galadriel 07-05-13 Member Since 2008

    I have to admit that I'm a total Audible junkie. MUST have book going at all times. I may be the subject of a family intervention someday.

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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!

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kathi 03-26-13
    Kathi 03-26-13 Member Since 2010

    Love books! Classics and lighter fiction, mysteries (not too violent please :-). And selective non-fiction--whatever takes my fancy.

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    "I was glued to this book--couldn't stop listening!"

    There are already many, many reviews of Christine Falls--so I don't want to add what's already been said. But hard not to--since this was simply one of the most compelling mystery novels I've heard in a while.

    The meticulously detailed writing style brings the reader/listener directly into the story--that's what makes it so engaging I think--and the author's ability to create scenes in which tension builds, leaving the listener almost leaning forward--straining for all the next words to come is what makes it so fascinating. I don't know what this would have been like to have simply read it, but the narrator managed to infuse this with a good sense of the feeling of menace and evil from the beginning.

    I gave the narrator one less star--but I'm not sure it was his fault. It could have been the recording itself--but his voice was the slightest bit muffled in places--so I had to rewind to listen (but rewind I did--as I was unwilling to miss even one word of this gripping story!)

    Is this a true mystery crime novel? Not in the classic detective sense, but there are mysterious things afoot, there is murder, and there is someone who cannot give up on trying to find out what is going on that causes all this. However, it also read like a piece of fiction--powerful writing--that happened to have a mysterious, evil underpinning. Take your choice I suppose.

    This book spans a lot of territory--two continents, families, the catholic church, and only after it was finished, did I realize that it was also a subtle exploration of the ways women (at least in that time/place) were treated as diminished, demeaned and/or expendable in many of the roles. There are several plot lines that explore that topic without it ever being totally obvious. I don't know if the author intended the reader to put that with the culture and the church aspects--or if it was simply the way things were in the early 1950's, or just the author's perspective for this book. Whatever the intent of the author, I believe it was one of the sub-messages of the book.

    I highly recommend--but will suggest this. Don't listen till you have a whole day to sit and do nothing else. You shouldn't try to do your housework, exercise in a gym, or even drive in a car while listening to this--because you don't want to take your attention away for even one moment!

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mary Rancho Cordova, CA, United States 08-09-12
    Mary Rancho Cordova, CA, United States 08-09-12 Member Since 2011
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    "Can not recommend this read/listen"

    The author mostly spoke from inside the main characters thoughts and the actual dialogue played a lessor part. I kept hoping that I would care for or relate to a character in the story or the story itself, but it did not happen. For me, it was lacking from beginning to end. If I described it in a color, it would be Grey. At the beginning, there is an event which sparks the readers interest. Unfortunately as the story evolves, the characters are not that interesting and the ending is as the story read, flat.
    If Mr. Daltons delivery was to evoke the tone of the book, he was very successful.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Steven Colorado Springs, CO, USA 01-03-08
    Steven Colorado Springs, CO, USA 01-03-08 Member Since 2005
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    "A Good Listen"

    I received much enjoyment from listening to this book. It has a very different setting from my midwestern US life, and the character development is outstanding. Hats off to T. Dalton who narrated superbly. While he is not in the class with Scott Brick and others, he is easy to listen to. The book itself has dark and brooding tones. If you are looking for an uplifting and enlightening book, look elsewhere. But if you want your imagination to be stimulated, as well as your intellect, this book is a good choice.

    11 of 13 people found this review helpful

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