Its not the dead that seem strange to Quirke. Its 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 corpseand 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 insidiousand very well-guardedsecrets of Dublins high Catholic society, among them 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 Banvilles 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 Blacks debut marks him as a true master of the form.
Black's 1950s Dublin is a moody, atmospheric place where carthorses mingle with cars, the pubs are fugged up with smoke, girls take tea in hats, and the attitudes of society are dominated by the rigid dogma of the Catholic Church, but times are changing, as epitomized by Phoebe, the restless daughter of Mal and Sarah who is determined to make her own way and marry who she wishes, even if he is a Protestant. (Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).
New York Times - Janet Maslin
Christine Falls rolls forward with haunting, sultry exoticism ... toward the best kind of denouement under these circumstances: a half-inconclusive one.
A good story, and gorgeous writing.
Though Black makes an occasional American cultural blooper, he keeps divulging surprises to the last page so that the reader is simultaneously shocked and satisfied.
Booklist - Thomas Gaughan
Nearly all the characters are painstakingly detailed and developed--even though they're likely to be morally mysterious. But readers' advisors should take note: crime-fiction fans who favor garden-variety mysteries may find this complex and deeply ruminative novel more than they bargained for.
While Christine Falls reads like an accessible, classic detective story, its confident manner and psychological portrait of a conflicted, broken narrator set it apart from mass-market fare.
The Guardian - Michael Dibdin
It would be absurd to suggest that Banville writing as Black is better than Banville writing as Banville, but in a different and yet fascinatingly similar way he is every bit as good, and deserves to win a new, broader readership with this fine book.
Alan Furst Christine Falls is a triumph, of classical crime fiction, finely, carefully made, not a single false move or wrong word—why oh why don’t they write books like this anymore.
Benjamin Black is the pseudonym
John Banville who was born in
Wexford, Ireland, in 1945. He was
educated at a Christian Brother's school
and St Peter's College in Wexford. After
leaving college he worked for the Irish
airline Aer Lingus in Dublin, Ireland -
which gave him the opportunity to travel
widely. He lives in Dublin.
His first book - Long Lankin,
a collection of short stories, was
published in 1970. It was followed by
two novels, Nightspawn (1971) and
Birchwood (1973). Dr
Copernicus (historical fiction) won
the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for
fiction, and was followed by a series of
novels exploring the lives of eminent
scientists. The Sea (2005) won
the Man Booker Prize.
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