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Editorial 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

Critic Reviews

"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 Ratings

Overall

  • 3.5 out of 5.0
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Performance

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Story

  • 3.4 out of 5.0
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  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Magical

Timothy Dalton's voice made me try this book and it also delivered the goods. Now I am on the look for more books by Benjamin Black!

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Interesting Enough

I'm glad I got this on sale, and I'm glad I finished it. It was interesting. However, there was nothing remarkable. In my opinion, it was slow and dull. It was slightly predictable. The conclusion felt flat, although it left you with some thoughts to ponder.
The narrator's voice was wonderful.
I struggled to follow along with scene changes, though. That was frustrating. There were not adequate gaps. I was constantly confused and had to rewind to figure out that the had scene changed and now we were hearing about a different character.

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  • Dan
  • Ann Arbor, MI, United States
  • 02-26-17

Don't Quit Your Day Job!

Timothy Dalton's overwrought narrative made this book a labor to finish. It seemed to be a parody of an actor who's trying way too hard. I was amazed that in the Audible review they mentioned Dalton's Irish brogue. Irish it wasn't, Gerald Doyle would have been much better suited for this story, The story was just ok. The lead character Quirk wasn't all that likable and the plot just passable and the twist and turns were easily seen coming. The best I can say about the book is that it wasn't horrible.

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  • Story

This story is nice.

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Yes! I love listening to Timothy Dalton Narrate this story. his voice makes the characters come to life. I could fall asleep listening to his mellow deep husky voice.

What did you like best about this story?

EVERYTHING!

What does Timothy Dalton bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

HIS VOICE. his accent, his knowledge.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes, Timothy Dalton voice is mesmerizing!

Any additional comments?

Nope, just keep them coming.

  • Overall
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  • Story

So bleak almost it becomes parody.

Everyone is so steeped in misery I lost interest in the story. The writing is good and it's well performed but it's a joyless slog and the plot just isn't that interesting.

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Disappointing story with non-sense ending. Excellent reader.

The story had an interesting premise, but went nowhere. The character development was fair. Timothy Dalton is an excellent reader.

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Not my favorite

This book did not get me going at all. It had too many un-redeeming characters I did not like any of them and therefore they were not interesting. Some like it but it was not for me.

  • Overall
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  • 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.

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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.

  • Overall
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  • Story

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.