Book Review: Christine Falls

Christine Falls

Benjamin Black


369 pages

Garret Quirke is a pathologist in Dublin, Ireland in the 1950s when he stumbles across a case that has been hushed up by an obstetrician named Malachy Griffin.  The case involves the death of a young woman named Christine Falls who apparently died in childbirth.  Quirke immediately becomes suspicious of Mal’s involvement due to the cover up, and he sets off attempting to discover the circumstances surrounding Christine’s death.

Mal and Quirke happen to be old friends who have since had a falling out.  They married sisters; Quirke’s wife died in childbirth years ago, along with his infant daughter, and Quirke is still carrying a torch for his sister-in-law, Sarah, who is the sister he wanted to marry  all along.

The tension between Mal and Quirke is thick, and Mal is adamant that Quirke stay out of Christine’s case.  Quirke is convinced that there is something untoward going on and he is unable to quit his inquiry, even when it becomes clear that there is danger involved.

Christine Falls is a split narrative, with part of the story being that of baby Christine, the infant that survived.  She is unknowingly sent to Boston and adopted out to a local family by a Catholic parish.  The adoptive family is not without their own hardships, which adds a complex layer to the story.

Benjamin Black is the pseudonym for Booker award winning novelist John Banville, whose work I have ashamedly not yet read (although I have had a copy of The Sea on my bookshelf for quite awhile, if that counts). It is for that reason alone that I bought this book for my Kindle.  For those of you that frequent my blog, it has become glaringly obvious that I have been on a mystery kick for the past few months, so this fit the bill.  Unfortunately, I didn’t enjoy this book as much as I would have anticipated.

I am not entirely sure what it was about Christine Falls that didn’t resonate with me.  I thought Quirke’s character was excellent, and I was also thought baby Christine’s adoptive parents were compelling characters and I looked forward to their portions of the book.  Despite that, I just couldn’t get into the story and I just wanted it to be over.  The mystery aspect was kind of weak, and I never had an AHA moment where everything came together.

I will certainly give Banville another chance, but I am unsure whether his mysteries are for me.

Other Reviews:

Caribous Mom

Shelf Love

Care’s Online Book Club

I purchased this book for my Kindle.

8 Responses

  1. Sorry the Quirke mysteries weren’t for you. I read the first two and enjoyed them well enough, but haven’t rushed out to read the third and fourth yet. Interesting that he writes mysteries with a pseudonym.

    The writing as Banville is gorgeous – I loved The Sea. Make sure you have a dictionary handy though!

  2. Sorry you didn’t connect with this one.

  3. Interesting — I love the premise and set up so I might have to give this a try — it sounds like this one works well as a stand alone, even though it’s part of a series?

  4. I was lukewarm to this one, too. but MUST concur with JoAnn abt THE SEA. I thought it fabulous.

  5. I borrowed this one from the library a few years ago and just couldn’t get into it. I thought the premise sounded fantastic, but something about the actual writing/story left me cold. I only read about 40 pages, but decided to put it aside for other books and I’ve honestly never thought about it until I read your review. I do have a copy of Banville’s The Sea, however, so hopefully I will have better luck with that!

  6. I’ve had this book for years but I’ve never read it. I got a hardbound copy at a sale but it just languished on my shelves after that. I think it’s because most of the reviews I’ve read had the same opinion as yours.

  7. The premise of this book sounds very compelling. Sorry it didn’t come together for you. Think I’ll be skipping this. I appreciate your honest review!

  8. I have The Sea on my TBR, but have been shying away from it for years now. Naming a character Christine Falls seems a little heavy-handed.

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