Christine Falls: A Novel

Benjamin Black

Henry Holt,  March 2007

In the debut crime novel from Booker Award winner John Banville, a Dublin pathologist follows the corpse of a mysterious woman into the heart of a conspiracy among the city's high Catholic society.

Quirke and Malachy Griffin were raised as brothers, though Quirke -- rescued from an Irish orphanage by Malachy's father, the eminent Judge Garrett Griffin -- was always the favored son. But Malachy married the American girl Quirke loved, and Quirke settled for her sister, who died in childbirth soon thereafter. Malachy went on to become a prominent obstetrician and Quirke a hard-drinking pathologist, and for the past twenty years the two have coexisted uneasily as brothers-in-law as well as rivals.

Then one night, after a few drinks at an office party, Quirke shuffles down to the morgue and discovers Malachy altering a file he has no business even reading. Odd enough in itself to find him there, but the next morning, when the haze has lifted, Quirke begins to suspect that his brother-in-law 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 -- which includes members of the Griffin family. But when he is urged -- at first subtly and then with considerable violence -- to probe no further, he nevertheless finds himself drawn inexorably down a trail that leads him across the ocean to Boston, and deep into his own past.

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'a debut marks him as a true master of the form.

hardcover | ISBN: 9780805081527 | Publication Date: March 2007

"Christine Falls is a triumph of classical fiction -- finely, carefully made, not a single false move or wrong word. Why oh why don't they write books like this anymore?"
--Alan Furst

"In Christine Falls, [Banville's] style is still there, immaculate, not a cliché in sight, but you read it at speed because it is, in that old phrase, a real page-turner . . . One can only welcome both Christine Falls in particular and Quirke in general. May he have a long life."
--Tom Rosenthal, The Independent

"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 . . . If there's any justice, Banville should be able to add the CWA Gold Dagger to his heap of trophies."
--Michael Dibdin, The Guardian

"A one-sitting read, an all-night enticement."
--Tom Adair, The Scotsman

"Superb . . . Christine Falls is by no means an ordinary crime novel: it is a book about sin . . . attaining an intensity worthy of any Greek tragedy."
--Mark Sanderson, Evening Standard

"Will certainly invite comparisons with [Graham] Greene's thrillers . . . There is enough of the thriller in Christine Falls to ensure that Banville (as Benjamin Black) gains a lot of new readers and enough pure writing to ensure that he loses no old ones in this memorably original seizing of a genre by the throat. Enjoy."
--Dermot Bolger, Sunday Independent (Ireland)

"Banville may have swapped the literary novel for crime, but he hasn't abandoned writing with elegance and beauty, to which he has added an absorbing plot, beguiling characters and evocative settings. He may well be the first author to add to his Man Booker a Gold Dagger."
--Marcel Berlins, The Times