Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Christine Falls (Quirke, #1)” as Want to Read:
Christine Falls (Quirke, #1)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Christine Falls (Quirke #1)

3.45 of 5 stars 3.45  ·  rating details  ·  6,767 ratings  ·  919 reviews
Quirke's pathology department, set deep beneath the city, is his own gloomy realm: always quiet, always night, and always under his control. Until late one evening after a party he stumbles across a body that should not be there - and his brother-in-law falsifying the corpse's cause of death.

This is the first time Quirke has encountered Christine Falls, but the investigati
Published by Picador USA (first published 2006)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Christine Falls, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Christine Falls

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Ian Agadada-Davida
The End Justifies the Mean

I originally bought this as a remainder and left it unread for several years, suspecting it might be a vain or indulgent experiment in crime genre fiction by one of my favourite authors, John Banville.

Instead, it’s a masterful and easy to read pathological, if not necessarily surgical, dissection of family, social and religious issues in 1950’s Irish Catholic Dublin and Boston. Banville subtly utilises all of his literary skills to conjure a convincing irreverent, if no
Suprisingly Brilliant Noir

I didn't have high expectations for this book.

But I was taken by surprise.

It was much better than I expected.

Benjamin Black a.k.a. John Banville has written a suprisingly good noir crime novel, albeit a very dark one.

Quirke (whose first name we never discover) is a pathologist in a Dublin hospital. He's the guy who does autopsies and determines cause of death.

Late one night, after a holiday party, he is amazed to discover his brother-in-law (and brother by adoption) Ma
Having read two of the later Quirke books, I thought it might be a good idea to try the first in the series. I had thought initially that John Banville was simply amusing himself creating wry stories about a quirky pathologist and his police inspector side-kick as they tracked down the perpetrators of various crimes in 1950s Dublin. I now realise that Banville intends more than amusement, for himself as well as for his readers. There’s an underlying theme running through all of these books; the ...more
Stephanie Griffin
Feb 15, 2008 Stephanie Griffin rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no-one!
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
"I'm no more morbid than the next pathologist."
- Benjamin Black, Christine Falls

"The murdered dead,
You thought.
But could it not have been
some violent shattered boy
nosing out what got mislaid
between the cradle and the explosion."

- Seamus Heaney, from 'The Badger'


It is hard to review this novel without wanting to give the whole chreche away. The nasty, dark, secretive details of this book are where it's all at, but I'm afraid if I started swinging around just one detail, I would end up spilli
A joke from the 1970s : A stranger walks into a Belfast pub and orders a beer. The man next to him at the bar eyes him suspiciously for a few minutes, then leans over and says "what religion are you, then?". "I'm atheist.". "We're all atheist, but are you Catholic atheist or Protestant atheist?"

Mr. Quirke, consulting pathologist, is a Catholic atheist. He spent his early years in an orphanage until he was adopted by Judge Griffin, then a barrister. Griffin had a son, Malachy, but gave all his at
Filled with atmosphere, but not much else, opening Christine Falls evokes the kind of dark noir atmosphere of the early fifties, step into the book and you step back into smoky drawing rooms and corner bars, squat henchmen, sleek cars, and swirling gowns wrapping around the legs of elegant woman. Black (Banville) is expert at creating this sultry mood. I don’t read mysteries often, but when I do, it’s because I want to sink into a book where the many leads spin tighter and tighter, strands that ...more
I sort of enjoyed this book as I was reading it, but when I got to the end I felt let down. Not well written, and sort of boring, this book could have and should have been better. The descriptions of the protagonist as a bear-like man were totally overdone -- I think the words "lumbering", "big," "massive" etc. appeared every time he did. Tiresome.
If you like mysteries with hard drinking Irish pathologists in 1950’s Dublin & crazy Catholics this is the book for you
Apr 28, 2008 Aaron rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who really love Law and Order
Recommended to Aaron by:
So if The Night Gardener manages to be sort of like The Wire, only not as good, Christine Falls manages to be sort of like Murder She Wrote. Only not as good. And maybe a little darker.

Cars ooze up the road. Tulips are the flesh of dead men. The rise of moon is full of grim portent. All stares are baleful. Even the most minor characters insist on visually apprehending the world in a way that is grimly portentous and darkly baleful.

This is a paraphrase, but I remember the archetypal sentence of
Black, Benjamin. CHRISTINE FALLS. (2006). ****. This is the first of Black’s (pseudonym of John Banville) series of mysteries featuring Quirke, a pathologist in Ireland. I seriously recommend that you start off with this first installment, and not read a subsequent one before it. There is a lot of background into Quirke’s personal life provided here that is ofter referred to in the later novels. The title is the name of a young woman who died of post-partum hemorraghing, but whose death certific ...more
Izetta Autumn
This is a hard book for me to rate. Christine Falls, written by Benjamin Black (Booker Prize-winning author of The Sea, John Banville in psuedonym), is marketed as a mystery-thriller - a more erudite Da Vinci code. In truth, it's much closer to the noir genre - ultimately acting as a character novel, built on a mystery, and surrounded by deathly overtones. It's Banville, so of course the writing is strong - elegant, descriptive, and engaging. The character development is the central trope of the ...more
What I learned from this book? Don't insert "poetic", unlikely thoughts into the minds of my characters. Just as an example, do not write a rape scene in which the rapist, mid-thrust, looks up at the view of the ocean (he and his victim are in the back seat of a car parked by the beach), whose crashing waves are so dark and powerful or whatever that the sight of them makes him come. BECAUSE NO. This generally enjoyable and readable mystery was made considerably less enjoyable and readable by tha ...more
Do you remember that song 'This is the song that never ends...'

This was the book that never ends.
I ate up this novel in a day. It's crime noir, set in 1950's Dublin and Boston and deals with a baby smuggling ring endorsed by the church and supported by Irish aristocracy and Boston Brahmins. The protagonist is a coroner, an alcoholic anti-hero bruised and battered by his past and lonely present. The novel was unputdownable and I can't wait to read the next in the "Quirke" series, but I'll have to: it just came out in hardcover so I can't afford it and the wait list at the library is over 100 ...more
Christine Falls by Benjamin Black (aka John Banville) is a mystery story involving babies, unwed mothers, and relationships. I read it because a) I love mysteries; b) I love Banville's writing; and, c) I was curious as to how someone who writes fiction in which there's really minimal plot would fare as a mystery writer. I discovered a) it was only ok as a mystery-but ok enough for me to start another one; b) I love his writing as Black; and c) see "a)" (but seriously, I was fascinated by the cha ...more
Jessica Draper
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Bill  Kerwin

This, the first in the series of detective novels written pseudonymously by the Irish novelist John Banville, is set in 1950's Dublin and features the melancholy, mediocre pathologist Quirke, who, though scarred by failure and a widower's grief, still possesses a spark of intellectual curiosity and a few glowing embers of compassion. When he discovers his brother-in-law, a prosperous physician, altering the death records of young Christine Falls, he begins an investigation that leads him through
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
An excellent book by a writer I only knew so far from the foreword from the first newly printed Parker series by Richard Stark. I have as of yet not seen the TV show made of this book and its sequels.

The book does paint a dark and desperate mood in Ireland of the '50's, the main characters are not any ray of sunshine and the whole mood smells of alcohol and desperation. The main character is a nosy character who in his actions is willing to hurt anybody. He feels like a person who has lost it al
Lewis Weinstein
A terrific read. Black has constructed a series of inter-related plot lines which he reveals slowly and under total control. Many surprises. Many serious societal issues illuminated by his far from perfect fictional characters.
Brent Legault
Though Banville uses a different name on this novel, his voice is more or less the same as it always is. And it's his voice that saves it from itself, from the muck and suck of the deadbeat plot.

I was led to believe this was a mystery novel. I don't know why. Maybe I led myself to believe that. Maybe it was some review I read or thought I read. But Christine Falls is not a mystery novel. It is a mysterious novel. Nothing wrong with that. Except that it also has many mystery elements to it. Whic
Carolyn F.
I just finished this book. As I was reading this book, I feel like I have weighted blanket after weighted blanket added to my shoulders until I was hunched over almost in a ball of depression. The book is written well and while I don't mind a book that is deep and dramatic, this was so much more and beyond that I don't think I enjoyed (can I use that word even?) this book at all. It's not even a book that will make me question some kind of injustice, it just left me deeply depressed. So I have i ...more
Sep 22, 2014 Ms.pegasus rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: lovers of mysteries
Shelves: mystery, fiction
The crime would have gone undetected if Quirke hadn't stumbled back to his basement lair, and found his brother-in-law Malachy Griffin (Mal) hunched over his desk. This is a Dublin hospital morgue and Quirke is the chief pathologist. Mal is a distinguished obstetrician. What could he possibly be doing down there?

Black narrates in a third person voice from Quirke's viewpoint, but he adeptly pairs Quirke's own thoughts, muddled by inebriation, with the reader's natural hyper vigilance. Quirke reve
This is a very strange book to review. On the one hand, I stayed up late and got up early to keep reading it, on the other hand, when it was over I felt like I had just read the mental equivalent of one of those buttery flavored rice cakes: it tastes pretty good and you forget it's basically made out of air but thirty minutes later you don't remember having eaten it and you're still hungry. And while I have nothing against what some people call "beach" reads (because I usually think in terms of ...more
Hannah  Messler
During: It looks like I am reading slowly, which makes me feel self-conscious! so I must remark: I secretly was reading the new John Irving but was afraid to post it on here in case John Irving was monitoring for sneaks (some big fancy-pants authors DO that, I was not being paranoid) but then it was so stupid and bad and ridiculous that I had to put it down halfway through. Anyway I know it's dumb to be self-conscious about looking like I'm reading slowly, but I am NOT reading slowly is the only ...more
Sep 28, 2012 John rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to John by: Alisa
Benjamin Black is the pseudonym for Booker-prize winning author John Banville, and this novel reads very much like a practitioner of high literary fiction swapped his tweed blazer for a trench coat. And yet Banville does not seem able to match the concomitant gait and attitude of the trench-coat wearing type.

First, there's the dense, mellifluous prose, which was very enjoyable to read on the one hand, but as the action got underway it began to bog the story down. I'm all for delayed gratificati
NO. NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO. The fact that I found this in the "free books" section of the library should've been my first clue. Second clue should have been the review on the back including the words, "TOLD IN PROSE SO BEAUTIFUL." Never do I ever again want to read a book where the author spends all of his time with these rambling, wordy, metaphorical, "artistic," craptastic descriptions of things that do not need to be described. It was just the WORST, ALL OF IT. ALL OF IT. How does he win ...more
Not as much a who-done-it as a peel-back-the-layers mystery, set in Ireland and Boston. There's a mention (veiled) to the Magdalene Laundries, and morality in the 1950s in both countries. I liked that the "detective" was an insider and an outsider at the same time, and that his personal history was interwoven with the mystery, but that it wasn't banged over our heads (in other words, I guessed things that came out later, but didn't mind so much).

Interesting factoid for those that read "real" fic
Laura Leaney
Although the imagery makes for a dark chillingly damp atmosphere, this novel felt like a parody of the noir genre - but unfortunately I think it was meant to be the genuine thing. Initially, I got really caught up in the pathologist Quirke's investigation of the missing corpse of Christine Falls, especially as the woman seems to be connected to his incredibly strange brother-in-law Malachy; but then I began to tire of the clichéd characters (beak-nosed bad guys, gin drinking low class blondes, a ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
The Quirke Discus...: Discussion Questions 1 10 Jul 09, 2013 01:46PM  
  • Borderlands (Inspector Devlin, #1)
  • The Guards (Jack Taylor, #1)
  • The Midnight Choir
  • The Wrong Kind of Blood (Ed Loy, #1)
  • The Cold Cold Ground (Detective Sean Duffy, #1)
  • The Chicago Way (Michael Kelly, #1)
  • Eclipse
  • The Ghosts of Belfast (Jack Lennon Investigations #1)
  • The Year of the French
  • Haunted Ground (Nora Gavin, #1)
  • The Old School
  • Garnethill (Garnethill #1)
  • L'homme aux cercles bleus (Commissaire Adamsberg, #1)
Pen name for John Banville

Banville was born in Wexford, Ireland. His father worked in a garage and died when Banville was in his early thirties; his mother was a housewife. He is the youngest of three siblings; his older brother Vincent is also a novelist and has written under the name Vincent Lawrence as well as his own. His sister Vonnie Banville-Evans has written both a children's novel and a r
More about Benjamin Black...

Other Books in the Series

Quirke (7 books)
  • The Silver Swan (Quirke, #2)
  • Elegy for April (Quirke, #3)
  • A Death in Summer (Quirke, #4)
  • Vengeance (Quirke, #5)
  • Holy Orders (Quirke #6)
  • Even the Dead (Quirke #7)

Share This Book

“before he could stop himself he heard himself say:” 0 likes
More quotes…