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Christine Falls


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About the Author

Benjamin Black is the pen name of acclaimed author John Banville, who was born in Wexford, Ireland, in 1945. His novels have won numerous awards, including the Man Booker Prize in 2005 for The Sea. He lives in Dublin.


Black is the pseudonym for Booker Prize winner John Banville (The Sea), who may have selected a pen name to distinguish his decidedly highbrow prose from this crime novel, though he needn't have been so sly. 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. Quirke's a Dublin coroner, a widowed alcoholic with a complex relationship with his deceased wife's sister, Sarah. When he stumbles back to his office at the morgue after a night of drinking, he happens upon his brother-in-law, Malachy, tampering with the file of a dead woman named Christine Falls. Malachy's an obstetrician; Christine Falls had delivered a baby before her death; and Quirke is immediately, irrevocably involved in the case. Quirke soon realizes that Malachy's role in the shadowy Knights of St. Patrick is central to a plot that spans decades and involves the highest levels of the Catholic Church as well their family. A solid, dark tale, the first in a new series. For public libraries. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 11/1/06.]-Christine Perkins, Burlington P.L., WA Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

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. Quirke is pulled into the case when he confronts his stepbrother, physician Malachy Griffin, who's altering Christine's file at the city morgue. Soon it appears the entire establishment is in denial over Christine's mysterious demise and in a conspiracy that recalls the classic film Chinatown. And the deeper Quirke delves into the mystery, the more it seems to implicate his own family and the Catholic church. At the start, the novel has the spare melancholy of early James Joyce, describing a Dublin of private clubs, Merrion Square townhouses and the occasional horse-drawn cart; as the plot heats up and the action shifts to Boston, Mass., it becomes more of a standard detective story. 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. Author tour. (Mar.) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

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