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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

3.5 (722 )
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3.5 (286 )
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3.9 (292 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Vivienne Jacksonville, FL, USA 03-17-07
    Vivienne Jacksonville, FL, USA 03-17-07 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
    36
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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.

    24 of 24 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Stephen McLeod New York, NY USA 04-11-08
    Stephen McLeod New York, NY USA 04-11-08 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
    75
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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.






    21 of 21 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Judith Seaboyer 01-09-08 Member Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
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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.

    13 of 13 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Christine Richmond, VA, United States 07-28-09
    Christine Richmond, VA, United States 07-28-09
    HELPFUL VOTES
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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!

    12 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Steven Colorado Springs, CO, USA 01-03-08
    Steven Colorado Springs, CO, USA 01-03-08 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
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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.

    9 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    AmazonShoppingQueen Chicago, IL 04-02-07
    AmazonShoppingQueen Chicago, IL 04-02-07 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
    103
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    "go for it!"

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

    9 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Peggy INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana, United States 08-07-08
    Peggy INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana, United States 08-07-08 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
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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.)

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Doggy Bird Glen Ridge, NJ USA 05-03-08
    Doggy Bird Glen Ridge, NJ USA 05-03-08 Member Since 2001

    doggybird

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Powerful and Seductive Narration!"

    This is one of the best narrated audiobooks I have heard in years. The atmosphere of the novel and its setting were perfectly enhanced by Timothy Dalton's rich deep voice which almost hypnotised me, it kept me so focused on the story.

    Although the story is a mystery there is a feeling of foreboding throughout that makes events much less shocking and more inevitable than might be usual for this genre. THe writing is beautiful and much better than one is likely to expect from a conventional mystery story.

    THe story is also deep and complex and composed of many interwoven strands--it's really quite a stunning performance when you take apart the simple and direct pieces of which it is made and see the complexity of the outcome.

    Very much enjoyed, very highly recommended. Will look forward to hearing the SILVER SWAN with great anticipation and pleasure.





    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Heather CHARLESTON, SC, United States 07-02-11
    Heather CHARLESTON, SC, United States 07-02-11 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
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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.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Happy Woodstock, NY, USA 06-02-07
    Happy Woodstock, NY, USA 06-02-07 Member Since 2003
    HELPFUL VOTES
    27
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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.

    12 of 14 people found this review helpful
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