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)
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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 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.)
I am a voracious reader with fairly eclectic taste. I like both fiction and non-fiction, biography, history and current events. I like well written mysteries and suspense and I love 19th and 20th century classical literature as well as modern fiction. My favorite author is Philip Roth but I also love Trollope, Hardy, Jonathan Franzen, Jane Austen and Edith Wharton. My favorite biographer is Robert Caro.
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.
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.
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