Christine Falls by Benjamin Black



Christine Falls Christine FallsJohn Banville; Henry Holt and Co. 2007WorldCat

Quirke is a pathologist working in the morgue at a Dublin hospital. After a party one night he comes down to the morgue to find his brother-in-law, Mal, working on a patient’s file. Quirke was drunk, a frequent state since his wife had died 20 years earlier. It was only later that he wondered why an obstetrician was writing in a dead woman’s file. When Quirke went back the next day to find the body he had seen briefly the day before, it was gone. So was her file.

Quirke was in an orphanage when Mal’s father took him into their home. He and Mal grew up like brothers, went to medical school together, even married sisters from Boston. They went to the different ends of medicine, though. Quirke is more comfortable with the dead. He has lived a despairing life for the past 20 years. Although he had married her sister, he is love with Mal’s wife.

Now Quirke comes out of himself to wonder about the dead woman, Christine Falls. He starts investigating and finding more questions. He starts visiting people in poorer neighborhoods, trying to discover what is going on. Christine Falls appears to have been part of something larger. Mal knows things he isn’t telling, instead warning Quirke away from the whole situation.

Christine Falls is a noir mystery novel written by author John Banville using the pen name of Benjamin Black. It is set in 1950s Dublin and Boston. It twists and turns, hiding and revealing secrets right up to the last pages. Banville/Black uses the attitudes and morals of the post-war years to create his story.

This book is slow to read, especially the first half. The second half picks up as the mystery becomes more tangled and Quirke begins to realize the danger to himself. He can’t trust his family. He has few other friends other than drinking buddies. He has his own secrets that he wants to avoid facing as well.

I found Christine Falls to be too slow and not overly interesting through the first half. Although the second half picked up, I didn’t find the characters sympathetic. Also, I am looking back at this story with views and morals shaped differently with a 50 year gap. I understood the problems presented but never got involved. If you don’t enjoy the noir genre of mysteries, you won’t like this book. The second half keeps the book alive but it doesn’t catch on for me.

Notice: Suggestive dialogue or situations

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