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